Unemployment should be addressed carefully. Most people who are unemployed are not so because it’s their first choice, and it is therefore a sensitive subject. While it’s great to be there for your friends, there are some things that aren’t okay to say to them about their unemployment situation.
1. “You must have tons of free time now.”
There is a 99.99% chance that the person you’re talking to would much rather be using that time to earn a paycheck. While it can be tempting to say this in an attempt to look on the bright side and make your friend feel better, you should avoid bringing free time up at all. That free time is most likely becoming suffocating and very boring, so try to keep this out of the conversation. Similarly, don’t complain about how busy you are. Your friend probably understands that you’re busier because of your job, but mentioning it would seem rude.
2. “Maybe you’re just not doing…”
If you have good suggestions as to where your friend might be able to find employment, that’s great. But it’s inappropriate to say that he’s doing something wrong or that he’s not doing something that he should be doing. That just places blame on your friend, and that’s definitely not something he needs right now.
3. “One of my friends was in this situation and she did this… you should try it!”
It’s very likely that your recently unemployed friend has a completely different skill-set than your currently employed friend. Whatever your employed friend did worked for her because of a specific set of circumstances, including her contacts, skills, education level, and location. Your unemployed friend is in a completely different situation, so it’s unfair to think that telling him about your other friend would be helpful. It actually turns out to be more discouraging, as it seems the other friend is simply more successful.
4. “So how is the job hunt going?”
Every so often, it’s great to check in on your friend and see how he’s coming along. But asking repeatedly about his job search will just force your friend to say over and over again that it’s not going well. That isn’t a position you want to put your friend in. After a while, let your friend approach you about the topic.
5. “You’re lucky you don’t have to deal with this at work.”
No matter how bad your day at work was, don’t compare your fortune with your friend’s. While it may be that you wish you didn’t have to deal with something or someone at work, you’re still fortunate to have a job. Your friend is not likely to find himself fortunate that he doesn’t have to deal with something because he doesn’t have a job.
6. “Don’t worry, I’ll get this.”
It is likely that your friend isn’t making any money at the moment, but offering too often to pay for the tab would seem patronizing, even if that’s not how you meant it at all. There is a fine line between offering to help someone out and doing it to the extent that it bothers that person. If your friend needs help, he’ll ask.
7. “I know how you feel.”
If you are not currently unemployed, don’t say this. Don’t even think it. Your friend is in a unique set of circumstances. While it’s good to talk with your friend and try to understand what he’s going through, you’re not in a position to truly know what he’s experiencing. Saying that you know how he feels simply trivializes his situation and makes you seem out of touch with how hard it really is to be unemployed.
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