“When one door closes, another opens;
but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that
we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
ꟷAlexander Graham Bell
We all know that COVID-19 has proven to be a formidable adversary–causing the deaths of many and the destruction of businesses–leaving millions unemployed. I am one of those casualties. After 22 years of service, I was unceremoniously released from my position.
I’m going to step out from behind the millions for a moment, and speak very simply about – ME. Although I have so many awesome opportunities and projects in front of me, the demise of a 22-year relationship deserves some air time—certainly more than I received in the 20 minute zoom call with HR that informed me of my “elimination”. There’s a lot I could say about the way this was handled, but that’s not important now. There’s a lot I could say about the words “your position has been eliminated”, but that’s not important now. There’s a lot I could say about the fact that my contribution will never be recognized or celebrated—but that’s not important now either.
What I will say is being separated from a job, even in the best of circumstances, is to be separated from a relationship—and that can be hurtful. Much of who we are is wrapped tightly in what we do, and what we do keeps us in a comfortable place—a place we know. Rejection, or rather, Ejection from our comfortable place launches us through all of the stages of grief, shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and eventually acceptance.
What I will say to anyone who has lost a job, pandemic related or not, is to be kind to yourself. It’s okay to feel what you are feeling, but don’t dwell there—and above all else, be very careful of public displays of emotion. Anger and hurt will make you say things that can damage your currency in the professional realm, so the HR zoom call is not the place to launch into a diatribe on corporate dysfunction. Speak calmly and take notes, as the haze of emotional may cause you to forget what is being said. Ask for the email address to communicate any questions that you might have after the call. Mirror what you have heard, and this might seem trite, but be Gracious. I could feel the blood rushing to my face—but I was gracious. There are a million things I could have said—but I was Gracious. I thanked them for my 22 years, an opportunity for which I am eternally grateful—and I was Gracious. I wished the organization well—and I was Gracious.
I’ve heard it said that one gets the brightest light from a burning bridge. Yes, you may get light, but you also leave debris in the water and soot in the air. When you leave the room, resist the temptation to be a flamethrower on social media and any other public space. Remember that you now have a new brand to create and nurture—one separate and independent of your old position.
You cannot build a new structure on the embers of anger. When you leave the room, leave a sweet fragrance behind. Let the last memory they have of you be that you were, above all else, Gracious.
Thank you, Angela, for your beautifully written and timely article. It is my pleasure to share it with my readers and have them gain from your unique experience and feel inspired by your “Gracious” advice.
On a Personal Note … There is such a need for compassion in everyday life! It is my hope that individuals in positions of hire recognize the need for compassion when the decision to release an individual from employment arises. An email or brief zoom call, without compassion is devastating. Instead, express your regrets, outline the positive aspects of what he or she brought to the position, and take the time to wish him or her the best of success. Be genuine, authentic, and supportive!
Angela is a graduate of the Global Protocol Academy. Perhaps the door that closed was meant for her to open a more powerful door that utilizes her 22 years of experience with her etiquette and protocol training to help others regain their sense of self and pursue a new career with inspiration. I am here to support Angela, as she inspired me as well.
If you are seeking a consultant on social etiquette as it relates to weddings, funerals, and memorials, please contact Angela Gregory at [email protected]. Angela was also a contributor to “The Art of Professional Connections: Event Strategies for Successful Business Entertaining.” You will find her submission in Chapter 7, Section 4, page 263, “Weddings and the Workplace: What to Do and What Not to Do”.