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15 Things to Say to Soften the Blow When You Fire Someone

15 Things to Say to Soften the Blow When You Fire Someone

If you work in management or HR, you know that firing someone is always difficult. Can anything you say make the harsh inevitability a little easier to swallow? According to managers who have answered the question, “What do you say to fire someone?”, how you phrase bad news makes a world of difference.

Are you looking for what to say to fire someone in your department or company without creating more conflict than necessary? Our list of situation-specific phrases will help you formulate what to say to soften the blow after you fire someone.


When circumstances demand layoffs


01When your company is having financial struggles…


iphone smartphone calculator
Photo by L.n.a. on reshot


“Mr. Mallory, this is to inform you that you have been laid off from your salaried position with us here at [company name].
The company’s current financial situation, which is precarious and has unfortunately triggered massive company-wide organizational changes; including staff lay-offs. I wish you the best luck in your next endeavor.”


02When the problem is an industry-wide issue…


“As you know, this organization and the industry at large are having a hard time in this digital economy, and companies are being forced to execute layoffs to survive. This is purely a cost-cutting measure and certainly nothing personal. I hope this unfortunate situation leads you to better opportunities.”


03When new management demands changes…


CEO boss formal suit and tie

Photo by Roland Samuel on unsplash


“New management is restructuring the entire organization by cutting back across all departments. This regrettable development has been triggered, in part, by the company’s newest top-level officials, who are looking to shake things up. Unfortunately, they’ve chosen to start by recalibrating the existing staff. I hope you find better luck in your next endeavor.”


What to say to fire someone: a supportive approach


04This job isn’t the end of your life


“I hope this development doesn’t affect you too harshly. There will always be other opportunities for you to consider. As difficult as this news is, I’d like you to remember that this job isn’t the only one in the world, and that any employer would be lucky to have you on their staff.”


05Everything happens for a reason


close up photo of four leaf clover

Photo by Amy Reed on unsplash


“This won’t change anything, but I’d like you to know that nothing happens without a reason. This could end up being the best thing that could have happened right now. Try not to view this as a setback; it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise.”


06The employee showed a lot of promise, and you wish them only the best in their next step


“I personally believe you are a promising individual with skills and talents any company would be interested in. I know that you will do something incredible and succeed in your next endeavor. Good luck.”



What to say to fire someone: looking toward the future


07You’re ready to write them a recommendation letter


black and silver fountain pen write
Photo by Álvaro Serrano on unsplash


“Following company policy, you will receive a positive recommendation letter, personally written by me, that we hope will help you in securing your next opportunity.”


08There are other opportunities available


foreign woman street

Photo by acworks author on photo-ac


“There is nothing that can make you process this news any easier, but I know of several fresh job openings that could work wonderfully for you. I will pass on the information so you can investigate if you wish.”


09This could be a blessing in disguise


“This is devastating news, and this won’t soften the blow, but I’d like you to consider the fact that this could be a blessing in disguise. It could be an opportunity for you to switch gears, so don’t lose hope.”


What to say to fire someone: Compliments and encouragement


10The employee was a strong member of your team


“I’d like to acknowledge that you were a fantastic staff member here, better than many surviving staffers. You have made a big impact, and we’ll miss you.”


11The company is grateful for their service


today i am grateful written

Photo by Freshh Connection on unsplash


“The board values all the years of service you gave this company. We appreciate all the work. We remain grateful for all the work you did with this company, and all the successes you’ve led us to. We hope you find even better opportunities in your next step.”


12The employee had a commendable work ethic


“Let me just add that this company was lucky to have a person of your skillset, work ethic and talents for as long as we did. It goes without saying that we will miss you here. Good luck in the next chapter of your career.”



Remain understanding and compassionate


13You didn’t want this to happen


“To be clear, this is not the development I had in mind for you or any other employee hired to work here. This is the last thing I wanted to happen to any of the staff, but I know you will go on to finer things and better opportunities.”


14It’s all part of God’s plan


God is faithful signage
Photo by Tony Eight Media on unsplash


“I hope you won’t be too thrown by this development, because, like many things we can’t change, God meant for this to happen. I pray that you find comfort in this thought. It’s just part of your journey.”


15You wish things would have ended differently


“This news is undeniably difficult, and the company still wishes that the outcome of your years with us had been different. We will have a very hard time replacing such a talented individual. Thank you for your service, and good luck in your next opportunities.”



At the end of the day, firing an employee can never be pain-free. But managers everywhere can learn what to say to fire someone to make the experience more manageable for both sides.
For managers looking for what to say to fire someone without causing unwarranted disappointment, these ideas above should work wonderfully.