Skip the Zig Ziglar Crap When Speaking to the Unemployed


speaking to the unemployed

I recently found myself in an unfamiliar state: unemployment. I’ve only been there twice in my life, the last time more than 18 years ago. For the record, I’m not unemployed in the traditional sense as I’ve run a small marketing consulting business on the side for more than 13 years. But this has always been on a part-time basis, not nearly the equivalent of having a full-time job. I wasn’t ready to make self-employment my full-time gig, and I really do miss the security of knowing there’s a paycheck on the way week after week.

Thankfully my husband has a great job with terrific benefits. I could not be more grateful that we have health insurance and some money coming in the door. But we’re a two-income family. Like many households out there, both of us need to be working and contributing in order to make ends meet. This whole unexpected unemployment thing (a major freelance contract fell through – one where my gut told me not to leave the status quo as an employee to become a contractor) has been a major game changer. And not in a good way. We’re feeling the pinch and having to make sacrifices. Which brings me to the point of this post…

When someone is in the midst of unemployment and their world starts to slowly crumble down around them, there are some things you should never, ever say to them. First and foremost, skip the motivational speeches and quotes. No unemployed person wants to hear things like, “There’s always hope” or “Something will come up” or “Things have a way of working out” or “When one door closes, another one opens.” Please. Please skip trying to invoke Zig Ziglar sales zap into a conversation with the unemployed. These phrases and moments of hoo haw do nothing to make us feel better. In fact, they cause resentment and anger. We need jobs. Not pep talks.

Take a cue from the image I used in this post. If we’re all working, our economy is stronger and communities prosper – so lend a helping hand! The best thing you can say to someone who is currently jobless is “What can I do to help?” Maybe you have some contacts you can reach out to or know of a suitable job opening. Ask what the person is looking for and what experience they have. Send any job leads you find their way and keep your eyes open. One day you might find yourself in a similar situation. Karma is a good thing to have on your side.


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