If you know someone out of work, may I ask how long it’s been since you dialed them up and said, “How’s it going? Anything I can do to help you out?”
You know, as an Employment Counsellor, I often remind those with whom I am working of the importance of staying in touch with former co-workers, Supervisors, friends etc. The key reason for this is of course to possibly get a lead on a job. However, it is also important to stay connected on a human level. Unemployment can be very isolating, and social contact helps keep up the old self-worth.
The interesting thing that gets reported back to me though, is that the people who are contacted by the unemployed often seem distant, and conversations get ended abruptly, and it is obvious the person who has been contacted really doesn’t welcome further contact and usually ends by making some hollow promise to stay in touch. So why is this? Well some people believe that if you were a good co-worker with someone who the company fired or laid off, if you are seen to still be associating with that person, you yourself might be let go. Really? What have they got? Some medical condition that’s contagious called Unemployeditis?
It’s not likely you are passing company secret documents to your former co-worker is it? You know, there is so much pressure on the unemployed to be positive, upbeat, staying on top of everything, and keeping up those networking contacts is just one more thing on a long list of things to do. Would it be so very inconvenient for you yourself to pick up the phone or dash off an email that provides a little contact and shows some humanity?
It might be as easy as, “Hey John it’s Greg. Wondering if you’d like to get together say at Tim Horton’s for lunch tomorrow?” Okay so during lunch you just ask how it’s going. It’s a coffee shop and lunch will set you both back about $5 or $6 dollars. So you ask what’s up and show some interest in this person you used to speak to frequently. Whether or not the person accepts your invitation is not up to you but up to them. You don’t have to map out the whole conversation or worry about what to say. Talk about the job search, sports, the weather, relationships – whatever is natural and normal. Normal conversations are just what unemployed people need. You don’t have to pretend you have a job lead or some amazing opportunity.
I will bet that the unemployed person will welcome your call and your offer. If not, maybe they just aren’t in the right place mentally at this time to accept for fear of being seen as a failure somehow and they don’t want you to see them like they are. If that’s the case, it’s only because they value your opinion of them and want you to think of them as being better than they are at present. Be big and tell them it isn’t an issue between you and MEAN IT.
Of course this is a two way deal. If you are the unemployed person being called up and now having a luncheon meeting, don’t dump every little thing on your mate. This isn’t a free therapy session. Gather up yourself, get dressed, look upbeat and go for it. Can’t afford it? Buy yourself a drink and consider that $2.00 an investment in a relationship. That has to be a valuable purchase for $2!
Reaching out to others in a meaningful way shows some compassion, humanity, and empathy. Hey, good on you!