1. Be a Boy/Girl Scout.
    Be prepared for the termination interview – have a process you can use to help you get through it. Write a script for yourself, and practice it, in front of a mirror, in the shower, with a coworker. (Run it by HR or Legal beforehand.)
  2. Be ready for the six most common employee reactions.
    Know how to recognize the six most common reactions to being laid off, what is underlying each of them, and how to minimize your stress while dealing with them. For descriptions of these six reactions, and tips on dealing with them, go to Handling the tough task of laying off.
  3. Create your own mental space and perspective.
    Avoid emotional overload with techniques that allow you to see other people’s anger and anxiety, especially towards you, as not personal. For example, imagine the other person as a sturdy tree or beautiful flowering plant, which is battered from a storm but healthy at the roots; know that it will grow back. Or imagine the person as a localized natural disaster, such as a tornado or thunderstorm, which is only around that person and from which you are completely safe.
  4. Avoid sympathy paralysis.
    Feel for the other person, but not so much that you can’t say what you need to say, or you break down emotionally. Remind yourself that you’re not to blame, and use one of the techniques in tip #3.
  5. Take care of yourself.
    You may not think it’s bothering you, but it is. Studies show that managers who lay people off continue to suffer from stress-related illnesses for several years. Guard against emotional exhaustion, sleep problems, headaches, ulcers, and similar problems by eating right, exercising, practicing good sleep hygiene, seeing your doctor, and venting (safely) when you need to.
  6. Help yourself by helping your manager.
    After your colleagues and team members have left, you’ll be busier than ever. Ask your manager to help you set priorities for your work, and reduce feelings of being overwhelmed.
  7. Avoid survivor’s guilt.
    Don’t let survivor’s guilt keep you from being productive in your job. Remind yourself that the economy is difficult and that you are not to blame, and find someone to talk to. For more information about survivor’s guilt, see the article Guilty and Stressed, Layoff Survivors Suffer, Too.
  8. Hold a funeral.
    Whether you are the one laying people off or someone else is, you’re losing coworkers you liked and enjoyed working with. Find ways to mourn your loss.
How to Stay Sane when You Have to Lay People Off

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