​​​Etiquette Tip of the Week: Without Warning

By Callista Gould, Author, and Certified Etiquette Instructor​

A layoff can come suddenly, swiftly and without warning. I've had to pack my box at least three times in my career – twice in the same company.

I've never experienced someone standing guard, watching me pack up my possessions and I've never been escorted to the door. But I've known people who have experienced both.

I've heard of people barred from returning to their office to gather their personal property – only told someone else would do it for them. In those cases, not all the personal effects get returned or returned in one piece.

Computer access is cut off suddenly. This is understandable, as the organization does not want the laid off person deleting critical files, grabbing client lists or sending pernicious emails.

If you have personal papers in your office or projects or numbers you would like to have in the future, keep digital or paper copies at home. When the axe falls, it's nice to know you already have what you need. Even if you think there's no way you would ever get laid off, do it anyway.

Keep two email addresses – one work related and one personal. Never sign up for a social media account with your work email. If you are laid off, you will lose access to that social media. The organization that let you go, may be less than accommodating after you're gone.

Don't burn bridges. Honor copyrights and non-compete agreements. Don't steal designs, plans or reveal any proprietary information that might cause you legal problems.

Leave peacefully, not kicking, screaming and issuing parting insults all the way out the door. Doing the latter, just confirms your employer made the right decision.

Look forward, not back. When we get kicked, we often get kicked in the right direction.​​


Culture and Manners Institute