I nervously surveyed the room as I sat down at the U-shaped table. A few of them look familiar but where are my co-, um, ex-coworkers? I focus on the door with laser intensity. Willing them to appear. Come on, come on… Where are you? We’re a team. There I go again, thinking in the present tense. We were a team. Were. Past tense.

Doubts plague me. I’m starting to regret my decision to attend this outplacement workshop.

Words are then written on a flip chart that spur an emotional conversation.

Am I in the right place? This is starting to sound a lot like grief counseling. Don’t get me wrong. I was emotional too. But didn’t you see it coming? We’ve already had two rounds of layoffs and our stock has been hovering around $2. It wasn’t personal. Yeah, right.  It’s so hard not to take it that way.

I feel bad for them.
For me.
For all of you going through this.

Please give us a moment. We’re grieving the loss of our jobs.

The classic ice breaker. We’ll go around the room and give our names, titles, and future focus. Oh, boy. Can you see my eye roll?

The woman farthest from me begins. Name, title and a very long winded description of what she did. She was a lifer at our former employer. So are the next two woman. They repeat her pattern. The man hasn’t been there as long but decides to share a lot of personal information. Too personal.

This is starting to feel like group therapy. I don’t like group therapy.

I glance at the white board. Name, title, future focus. That’s it.

“Hello, my name is Lee and I’ve been laid off.”

Done. I’ve identified and owned up to my issue. Now where’s lunch?