Laying someone off, dismissing a member of your team, firing someone…
It’s not a fun situation, but eventually, if you lead an international team, you may need to dismiss someone or lay someone off in English.
As a neurolanguage coach, I know that when we are in situations that are more stressful, it can be harder to do your best with your English.
That means saying the right thing–using diplomatic language is more difficult exactly when it’s more important.
So it’s a great idea to learn the right expressions–and practice them–in advance.
Let me help you with the right expressions so you say the right thing, avoid confusion, and sound confident and diplomatic if you find yourself in this situation.
Get the worksheet to test what you learn in this lesson!
Did you know that I’ve made a worksheet to go with this lesson so that you can practice everything you see here today? I want you to make this part of the English you actually use in real life!
GET THE WORKSHEET: Make sure you practice these expressions so you can use them in real life with this worksheet made for you by a Neurolanguage coach (me!)
1. Advanced Business English: Don’t confuse ‘let go’ with ‘dismissed’!
Since this is such a difficult topic, you definitely want to avoid confusion!
In English, we have different expressions we use when someone has to leave their company. If you become confused about whether you are letting someone go…or dismissing them, it can cause a lot of problems!
Using the wrong expression could make you sound unprofessional too.
- Letting someone go, or laying someone off means you are ending their employment for financial reasons.
- Dismissing someone means you are ending their employment because of something they did.
Of course, ending someone’s employment is never as simple as saying one expression! So I have some ways to stay professional and diplomatic you can practice.
If you’re ever in doubt? Talk to Human Resources.
I want to remind you that I’m here to help with all your Business English needs.
But the rules around hiring and ending employment change and depend on where you live and work. So I can’t give you advice on that. Your human resources department knows best!
Also check out my lesson: 3 Communication Codes in American Business.
2. Business English Expressions: Ending unemployment for economic reasons.
First, let’s start with a common situation:
Let’s say an employee loses his or her job because of financial reasons. It’s beyond the employee’s control–or even the business’s control.
In that case, notice the expressions you’d use in these sample sentences:
To let someone go:
“Sam, we’re going to have to let you go.”
To lay someone off:
“Unfortunately, we’re going to have to lay you off.”
Other expressions you might use in this situation:
In this situation, it’s no one’s fault.
You may want to explain why it happened–like this:
“As you may know, business is not going well, we’ve been forced to downsize…”
In this case, you can also let your team member know you regret the situation.
You could say something like:
“I’m sorry this is happening.”
3. Business English Expressions: Ending employment for a specific cause–stay professional.
Of course, when you lead a team, there will be times you need to terminate someone’s employment because of something they did.
As the leader, you have to do what’s right for the company–and that may mean dismissing someone.
Terminating someone’s employment: don’t say this!
Another expression for dismissing an employee is “to fire” someone.
But it’s not very diplomatic language.
It would sound unprofessional to say “You’re fired!” to your employee.
Terminating someone’s employment: say this instead.
Look at the next two examples. They’re diplomatic ways of dismissing an employee.
You’ll sound a lot more professional if you learn some of the expressions you hear and see.
“John, today will be your last day at Z Company.
We’ve provided ongoing warnings about meeting your deadlines
and you were notified that continuing to be late would lead to your dismissal.”
Depending on your company’s structure and policies, you might also say:
“John, today will be your last day at Z Company.
We’re severing your employment.”
Also check out my lesson: 4 Differences of American Work Culture – A Quick Overview.
4. Business English for Your Career: Talking about unemployment.
I work with a lot of clients who are between jobs too. It can happen to anyone.
If you’re in the middle of a job search, you definitely want to find the right way of talking about your current situation.
Here are some things you can say when you’re looking for work.
“I’m currently unemployed”
“I’m between jobs right now.”
These are two ways of saying “I don’t have a job right now”
Avoid confusion during your job search in English:
You might be surprised to hear how many of my clients have accidentally told me they were “fired” from their last position!
But when I asked them, what they really wanted to say, they were let go, or laid off, or that their contract came to an end.
This is an example of a situation where knowing what to say and how to say it in English can change your career.
Learning the expressions in this lesson is an example of taking a small step that can add up to a big difference in your English & your life!
And if you’ve got a situation that is complex and challenging in English, don’t forget, my team and I are also here to help coach you through it.
Take the next step: Improve your English in the comments
The best way to become more confident using Business English is to practice!
Here’s your Confidence Challenge for this week:
In the comments, see if you can use the expression ‘to let go’ in a sentence.
If you learned something from this lesson, please share it with your coworkers & friends. You can send your message to them in English for more practice!
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