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Etiquette advice for the unemployed

Marketplace Staff Aug 7, 2009

Etiquette advice for the unemployed

Marketplace Staff Aug 7, 2009


Bill Radke: I mentioned the July unemployment rate comes out this morning. Losing a job brings all kinds of problems, of course — financial, emotional. It also raises questions questions of etiquette. From Chicago Public Radio, Adriene Hill reports.

ADRIENE HILL: It’s not something that most etiquette books cover in great detail — how to handle being out of work in the middle of a recession. And Mary Gustafson has a lot of questions. She was laid off from her job as an editor of a trade magazine in January. We meet up at a cafe in Chicago. She’s found herself wondering — how to be in touch, or out of touch — with old colleagues.

MARY GUSTAFSON: My friend and I decided there was a cooling off period before you can talk to your old co-workers without it being too awkward.

She’s pondered how to handle expensive dinner invitations, and…

GUSTAFSON: What to do when you you’re defriened or delinked in.

And, solving this social quandary:

GUSTAFSON: The hardest one is figuring out how much you can whine to someone without being too whiny. You can feel sorry for yourself for a while and you can let someone buy you drinks for a while, but how long can you complain?

AMY DICKINSON: I think you need to factor in a few days of Doritos on the couch, crying, you know angry, and then you really do need to set that aside.

Amy Dickinson is the advice columnist at the Chicago Tribune.

DICKINSON: It’s like when you know you’re dating. You don’t want to go on a date with a guy who’s like complaining about his ex. So you have to leave it. And I think you have to leave it as quickly as you can.

She says the people who do best are the one’s who just get on with life, who don’t hole up and withdraw. Job seeker Gustafson says its can be tough to feel confident meeting someone new.

GUSTAFSON: Chit chatting at wedding showers or any other public event it’s kind of awkward when they ask what you do and you have to say you’re unemployed.

Dickinson, the advice expert, suggests it’s time we all rethink the ways we interact.

DICKINSON: Small talk isn’t so small anymore.

Her recommendations for new topics? Maybe celebrity gossip. Or simple, perhaps more meaningful, questions like “How are you?”

For Marketplace, I’m Adriene Hill in Chicago.

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