Unit 23 :
How to Tell Someone They’re Being Laid Off




Repeat these word/ phrases after your teacher.

1. evoke (v)
to make someone remember something or feel an emotion

2. presiding over (phr.v)
to be in charge of a situation or place

3. take its toll (phr.)
to cause harm or suffering

4. let (someone) go (phr.)
to stop holding of someone or something

5. decompress (v)
to reduce in pressure or return to the original lower pressure

6. strike (v)
to refuse to continue working because of an argument with an employer about working conditions. pay levels, or job losses

7. oversight (n)
a mistake made because of a failure to notice something



Read the dialogue aloud with your teacher.



Tom, please have a seat.

Thank you.

Tom, I know that you have tried hard to succeed at your job. Nonetheless, for some months now, your overall performance has not been satisfactory.

There are too many instances of errors in the accounts payable reports and your attempts to carefully check over each report have slowed down the pace of your work considerably.

 We cannot retain you in this position and we must let you go.

You mean, I’m fired? 

Yes, we are going to have to let you go. I am very sorry that this did not work out.

 I know I can do the job. Give me another chance. I really like working here.

Tom, we have given you at least two written warnings and several verbal warnings.

But my supervisor says the quality of my work is improving.

Although the number of errors has decreased, the quality is still not satisfactory. 

And in working to decrease the amount of errors, your work pace has become unsatisfactory. I know you have tried . . . but it’s still not working out.

What about another position? I’ve never really liked payables. How about the entry-level position in accounts receivable? I’ll really give it my all.

Tom, it’s time to move on. We all like you here. This is a difficult decision for all of us. But the decision has been made. 

We have given this decision a lot of thought. We know it is difficult for you. And we did not make this decision lightly.

I don’t think this is fair. I think I should get another chance.

Tom, I sympathize with your feelings. But we have given the situation a lot of thought. It was not an easy decision to make.

We regret to tell you that this is our final decision. We will miss you here, Tom. We truly wish you the best.



Read the article with your teacher.

How to Tell Someone They’re Being Laid Off

1. Seek training

All organizations need an “effective, efficient, and standardized process” for handling layoffs “and everyone — managers and potential managers — should be trained in how to do it,” according to Stybel. “Training makes it a less frightening task,” he adds. Trouble is, says Molinsky, most organizations don’t “necessarily see the need to offer extensive training because it costs time and money and layoffs are a relatively infrequent occurrence.”

2. Practice

Don’t go into this task cold — and certainly don’t go in alone, says Stybel. It’s more comfortable and legally practical to deliver this news with at least one other person in the room. “Ideally you’re working closely with a consultant at an outplacement firm to help you manage the process,”. Practicing beforehand helps ensure you “strike the right balance.”

3. Consider logistics

The physical environment in which you deliver the news should be a private, quiet room or office, Molinsky says.The goal is to “maximize your comfort in delivering the message” while also granting “dignity to the person who’s being laid off.” 

4. Be direct

The script for letting an employee go is relatively straightforward, says Molinsky. “Get to the point quickly: Be direct, be honest, and no small talk.” Then hand over the meeting to the consultant or HR rep who will explain next steps. 

5. Be compassionate

When you’ve been tasked with laying off an employee with whom you have a good working relationship, “it’s likely you’ll feel genuine, deep sympathy” for that person, says Molinsky. In cases like these, “offer support” by, say, assuring him you’ll give a great reference or offering to introduce your contacts.

6. Decompress and debrief

Letting go of an employee is a demanding task that “takes a toll” on even the most experienced managers, says Stybel. Don’t neglect your own wellbeing. “Once you’ve delivered the news, find a way to physically and psychologically restore yourself,” he says. Take a walk. Take a nap. Lift weights. “Whatever you do, don’t schedule another meeting right after — give yourself time to calm down.” It’s also “important to debrief,” with the HR manager that helped you do the layoff, says Molinsky




Answer the following questions to your teacher.

1. Do you have any experience of being laid off in a company? How was the feeling?

2. Is it fair for the company to lay off their employees? Why or why not?


Let’s practice

Choose the correct answer.

1. Someone is  ________________if it is the fault of the employer.

a. Fired
b. Lay off
c. Oust
d. Hurl

2. Someone is _____________ if it is the fault of the employee.

a. Fired
b. Layoff
c. Idle
d. Discharge

3. Help with finding a new job that a company gives to someone they can no longer employ is ________.

a.Preside over
b. Take a toll
c. Outplacement
d. Layoff

4. If a plane window breaks, the cabin will rapidly ______________.

a. Decompress
b. Discharge
c. Debrief
d. Debunk

5. This government has ___________ some of the most significant changes in education this century.

a. Strike
b. Oversight
c. Discharge
d. Preside over