Whether you’re headed to a wedding (even your own) or just a barbecue, you may interact with someone who is unemployed. Do you offer a hug? Should you feign laryngitis and walk away? It can be stressful for the employed, or otherwise economically stable, to know how to respond.
Trust me. Since I was laid off, family, former colleagues, and especially, strangers, (albeit indirectly and always unsolicited) let me know how challenging my joblessness is for them. These rules of thumb will help you handle the unbearable lightness of being around the non-working class.
JUDGE: If someone admits to being laid off, fired, let go, or otherwise not working, let her know that her current situation is directly related to her defective character. Use strong simplistic (not to be confused with simple!) terms. Cloak statements in the form of questions like, “What did you do wrong?” or “Who can blame them (insert: corporation here)?” If the unemployed person seems defensive, remind her that you have a job for a reason.
Nepotism existed long before Downtown Abbey deftly displayed its perks. When I interviewed J. Robin Baitz, a Tony award-winning playwright, about breaking in, he said that nepotism is far more pervasive than most folks realize. “There’s this whole world of people who are just connected. It’s your worst fears always, come true.”
It’s easy to resent those who chose their parents more wisely, but kvetching about it is (almost) as obnoxious.
For starters, stingy CEOs, global economic pressures, and technological advances have made it necessary to Do-It-Yourself. Most businesses, even publicly traded Fortune 500 ones, still promote from within. Henry Ford’s great-grandson William Clay Ford, Jr. serves as the executive chairman of Ford Motor Company. The CEO of McGraw-Hill Companies is Harold Whittlesey McGraw III. It’s grating when those with trust funds, clan crests, or Ivy League logos dismiss what these privileges provide. That said, we shouldn’t inflate their value—we should find a way to beat it.
Every business “expert,” career advisor, and their mothers will warn job seekers to avoid vocal fry, up speak, mumbling, meandering, cursing, spitting, or slip-ups, Freudian or otherwise. I’m guilty of committing all of the above, but my worst verbal tick, I’m sorry to say, is over-apologizing.