This is how it all began

Original Spanish version published in El Comercio newspaper on June 9, 2019 

They gave him the news ruthlessly, with no respect, no consideration, and no professionalism whatsoever. Not only did they put him out of a job overnight, but they also destroyed his self-esteem and dignity with one stroke. They offended him and blamed him for everything that was happening to justify why he had to go. It is always easier to blame the one who has to leave.

The world as he understood it fell apart overnight; without any warning or any sign to alert him, he fell from feeling like a valuable and valued professional, to becoming a desperate man, one without any savings.

Living under the assumption that he was safe because he had a good job and a hard-earned career, without a salary he no longer had the money to pay the mortgage, or school fees. The perfect storms always come at a bad time: they were finishing remodeling the house that they had bought and their savings had been designated for that.

He never anticipated being in such a position. His monthly income was good; his annual bonuses increased every year together with his responsibilities and his prestige. His success was assured; there was no reason to put aside anything for a rainy day. This kind of thing –he always thought– does not happen to people whose careers have been on the rise year after year, who have an impeccable reputation, and have good contacts. There was nothing to cushion the fall.

However, it did happen, and he had to face it without knowing where to start, without understanding the demons that awoke inside him. He made many mistakes that wreaked more havoc in his life, complicating things. He handed out résumés in streets and squares, directly or indirectly, and asked friends for a job (and consequently lost several on the way). He thought about starting up several businesses, but he couldn’t breath from the anguish. He lived grief, rage, and bewilderment. Why me? What happened to my life? What are we going to do? Where am I going to work? Who am I now? Who will want to hire me? Why did I fail like that? Where do I begin?

I wasn’t very helpful. I was very scared and made many mistakes as well. Anyone who has been down this path knows the toll that uncertainty and anxiety have on everyone, of the impotence one feels, of the clarity of mind that is lost. But, I later learned to recognize that pain in people who go through those processes in order to try to help them mitigate it. It amazes me how even today there are still so many who let their people go that way, without any respect or consideration; as if it did not hurt or matter anymore, just thinking about doing it quickly and unfeelingly, without giving them any help to deal with what is coming.

This became my life and my vocation, to guide and raise awareness that respect and consideration are key when communicating dismissals at all levels, in each case, and with each person. And afterwards, always to help those who are on that path so that they do not have to suffer so much or have to make the same mistakes. I continue to work in this and we are making headway, but more respect, empathy, and, sometimes, even more humanity is still needed…

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The key is to reframe your attitude so that you don’t fall behind. Recognize your advantages and limitations in terms of the value you add to your employer and where you need to improve on your personal skills.


Original Spanish version published in America Economia (Latam) on August 21, 2015  Until a few years ago, many people thought that being out of work was a sign of personal failing: “Hmmm, I wonder what he did? I wonder what happened?” Now being in a…