In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to get fired at all. However, with 40 percent of people being fired at least once, it’s likely going to happen to you if it hasn’t already. How do you handle the situation with grace and aplomb?
When being fired, maintain your dignity by accepting the facts, getting all the information (such as whether you receive a severance, when you’re eligible for unemployment, etc.), and keeping your composure.
All this is so much easier said than done when you’re dealing with the emotional shock of being terminated. However, these skills are worth having, as you can make a final good impression and ensure your professionalism to the end.
The advice presented here today about How to Get Fired Gracefully should go into the back of your mind whether you feel secure in your job or have a niggling feeling in the back of your head that you could get let go soon.
The Dos and Don’ts of Being Fired Gracefully
DO Get the Information You Need
You can’t walk out of a termination meeting without a few basic facts.
Is your employer offering you a severance package? If so, for how much, and when will you receive it? Do you have to sign any paperwork, such as an NDA? If so, can you have an attorney look it over first? When will you be eligible to receive unemployment?
You need answers to these questions before you walk out, and your former employer should have the info available during the discussion. If not, keep following up until you get what you need.
DON’T Ask for a Reason
You might think you’ll feel better knowing why you’re being fired, but you really won’t.
Besides, you probably will only get the run-around anyway. In many parts of the world, an employer doesn’t need a reason to fire you. For those states where a reason is provided, you might get a vague non-answer.
This is for the company’s legal protection. If they told you exactly what you did wrong (assuming you did anything), you could then turn around and sue them on grounds of discrimination.
DO Accept the Situation, as Hard as It Is
You might not be able to do this immediately.
Getting fired arouses a million feelings, thoughts, and emotions, from the sudden shock of the situation to the fear of lost income, the anxiety about having to reenter the job market, isolation from being cut off from your colleagues, and the sudden change of the situation.
You might not feel all the emotions associated with your firing for days or sometimes even weeks and months. You might feel little more than numb for a few days, then find that your emotions are strong.
While it will take time to process, in the immediate aftermath of the conversation with your former boss, you have to accept the situation.
Your own personal self-acceptance can take longer, and that’s fine. Work on it in your own time.
Another reason why employers stay vague about why they’re firing you is to reduce the rate of altercations. Although you obviously won’t agree with your employer’s choice to fire you, if you review the terms in your contract, you will see they’re within their right to let you go.
Arguing your point might feel good in the moment but is ultimately unnecessary. It’s not like you can argue effectively enough for your employer will suddenly realize their mistake and decide not to fire you.
If anything, all you’ll end up doing is burning bridges.
DO Try to Control Your Emotions
Your employer might have a box of tissues handy and trust me when I say they will expect all sides of the emotional coin, from crying to shouting, disbelief, sadness, and anger.
You might not be able to control your emotions in the moment. It’s difficult, especially if you didn’t see this coming. Holding tight to your composure makes a better impression, and not only to your soon-to-be-former-boss but to your colleagues.
While the best bosses will let employees go at times when fewer people are in the building, you might see a coworker or two milling about as you collect your items and are escorted out of the building.
Drawing less attention to yourself is best. You can also ensure your last image of yourself to everyone you worked with is a relatively positive one.
DON’T Beg for Your Job
Just like arguing for your job won’t get it back, neither will begging for it. Understand that your employer didn’t come to this decision lightly and they didn’t make it suddenly, either. They could have spent months deciding whether to let you go, and then when and how to do it.
Their mind is made up, and there’s nothing you can say to change it.
DO Get Everything in Writing
In the shock and awe of the moment, please don’t leave your boss’s office without getting all the required termination documentation in writing. That goes for your termination notice to an NDA, unemployment, severance, all of it.
DON’T Leave on a Sour Note
You’ve just experienced one of the most unpleasant moments of your life, but you survived. Difficult moments may be ahead, but you’ll get through those, too.
In the meantime, wrap up this chapter of your life with dignity and class. Shake your boss’s hand, warmly thank them for the opportunity to work together, wish them the best, and walk out with your head held high.
You Just Got Fired – Now What?
Although this feels like the end of the world, it isn’t. People get fired every day, and while it never gets easier, having an action plan in place will help you navigate through the currents of change smoothly.
Let Yourself Feel Everything
First, get ready to feel some unpleasant emotions. Losing a job requires going through the stages of grief just like any loss. You might have an extended denial period, or you could feel angry about your circumstances for a while.
Don’t shove these feelings aside, as they’re valid and worth acknowledging. The sooner you process them, the sooner you’ll feel in a better place to begin moving on to the next great gig in your life.
It’s normal to feel upset about being fired for weeks, sometimes months after it’s happened. If you feel like your emotions are impacting your life beyond a normal degree, or you’re severely struggling to get through, consider talking to someone.
Apply for Unemployment
You may have your severance package, but if you’re also eligible for unemployment benefits, you should take them. Some money coming in each week is better than none, as you can use it to pay bills.
Give Yourself Time to Recover
Being terminated is a major life upheaval. Although you might think you’re ready to begin applying to jobs tomorrow, that’s very rarely the case. Give yourself at least a week to process everything you’ve gone through, settle your emotions from the last job, and get into a positive mindset.
Get Back Out There
Update your resume with your latest experience, polish your cover letter writing skills, and check with your network about openings.
How to Get Fired Gracefully – Bottom Line
Although there’s no easy way to be fired, the way you handle it speaks volumes about yourself and your professionalism. Avoid begging and arguing; they will cause the conversation to devolve without achieving any objectives.
Instead, try to focus on getting the information you need to move forward, from paperwork you need to sign to severance information. You don’t have to smile about it but offer a hearty handshake and try to maintain your composure on your way out.
You can feel good about how you handled an unenviable situation, putting this job in the rearview.