What Should I Tell People?: 8 Tips for How To (and How Not To) Talk About Your Termination, Part 2

In our last blog we provided four tips for how to (and not to) talk to people about your termination. Getting fired is never fun, but you’ve got to remember to be careful about how you talk about it — not only for any potential legal action you are planning to take, but also for your reputation and peace of mind. Click here to read Part I of this blog.

Today, we will outline four more tips to help you properly talk about your termination when coworkers or others ask you pointed, and sometimes difficult to answer, questions. (As always, please keep in mind that this information is not intended as legal advice for your specific situation.)

5) Ask yourself why they care

There are basically 3 motivations for people asking about your departure from the company:

  1. Their own fears about potentially being fired (i.e. “Could I be next?”)
  2. Gossip
  3. They actually care about you

Unfortunately, the third motivation above is also the most rare, so it is important that you thoroughly consider the potential reasons for the inquiry. For the most part, assume that anyone who is not related to you, didn’t get you a birthday gift, or has known you for less than a year is probably not primarily motivated by their concern for you. Frame your response in a manner that reflects your best guess at their motivation for asking about your termination. For example, if they ask what happened and you think they are worried about their own job, let them know that it didn’t seem like the company was making any more cuts besides your position.

6) Use humor, but not flippancy

Humor is oftentimes a good way to approach talking about a difficult or uncomfortable subject. Good humor can help bolster you through the most challenging of situations, and the termination of your job certainly falls into the category of “challenging.” For example, if a coworker calls you up and asks where you went, you could tell them “Sorry I didn’t say good bye, I won the lottery and moved to Tahiti!” Such humor can make the otherwise uncomfortable discussion about your termination much easier to handle. However, you should NOT respond to inquiries with flippancy. Getting fired is a big deal, and it is okay for your to recognize, acknowledge, and respect the seriousness of the situation.

7) Develop a narrative that you are comfortable with

We don’t mean you should revise history or get defensive, but there are many ways you can describe and present your separation from the company without lying about it. For example, rather than blaming the boss for not liking you or going into details about how you really blew it on a big potential sale, you could just say that it just wasn’t working out or there just wasn’t a good match between your skills and the company’s needs. You should not lie or blatantly mislead, but you do have the control over how you present your story to others, and you should choose a narrative which is comfortable and effective for you. This is particularly useful in situations where you may be asked by a future potential employer to talk about your separation.

8) Don’t talk about it

If all else fails, you always have the right not to talk to others about your termination. If a coworker or family member is prying, tell them you simply are not comfortable talking about it. In fact, not talking about it should always be your go-to if you have a pending lawsuit surrounding your termination.

Talking about your termination with others can be an emotionally challenging and frustrating prospect, but there are many ways to approach how you communicate the circumstances surrounding your separation.  What works for you may not work for someone else. It is important that you find a way to talk, or not talk, about your termination that suits you.

Don’t forget to check out Part 1 of this blog, and be sure to keep in touch with us here at the law office of AndersonDodson for all of your workers’ rights needs.

Written by AndersonDodson


AndersonDodson, P.C. is a law firm dedicated to holding employers accountable for paying their employees correctly. We are aggressive and tenacious when we need to be, if that’s what it takes to get the job done. Sometimes the playground bully needs to be brought down a notch, and we are plenty equipped for a fight if it becomes necessary. But we also don’t go looking for a fight. Our mission is to get our clients paid what the law says they deserve, not to stir up trouble where none is needed. Trouble is distracting from life, and living life should always come first.