The Tears of Termination
By Bryan Caplan
Earlier this year, I argued that Casey Mulligan’s theory of labor market contradicts introspection:
When someone gets laid-off, what is his main emotional reaction likely to be?
When someone gets a nominal wage cut, what is his main emotional reaction likely to be?
I was amused, then, to discover that the Handbook of Employee Termination has a whole section on “Dealing with Six Types of Emotional Reactions” to dismissal. “Crying” is #1. The whole list:
2. Shouting and Cursing.
4. Flight or Fight.
5. Offender. [When the employee is being summarily discharged for a criminal offense].
6. Defender. [When the employee is being discharged for insubordination.]
The “Crying” paragraph is worth quoting in its entirety:
Do not try to make the terminated employee stop crying; weeping can be therapeutic. Give him or her time to recover. Maintain your composure while you are waiting. Do not apologize to the individual, but show your concern. Offer a tissue or a glass of water. This will buy time and allow the individual to regain self-control. Keep your goal of efficiently conducting the interview in mind, and use this time to plan the next step.
Yes, unemployment really is a grave evil. Fortunately, this evil is avoidable. We just need to make wages far more flexible. The first step is radical labor market deregulation. The second step is a massive cultural shift: We have to know in our heads and feel in ours hearts that wage cuts are the potent, humane medicine that prevents and cures the plague of unemployment.