Unemployment Hearing Pep-Talk: 7 Ways To Battle Your Nerves On The Big Day

It's your big day: the day of your unemployment hearing.  Thousands of dollars worth of unemployment benefits and back-payments are at stake.  You just have to convince a judge that you earned those benefits, and that you did nothing improper to forfeit them.  Having reviewed your documents many times in the days leading up to the hearing, you felt prepared.  Today, though--the day of your hearing, the day that counts--you're so anxious that you can't focus or plan.  You've heard of nervous people having butterflies in their stomachs, but your stomach is full of pterodactyls! 

You've done all the research and aligned your arguments: now is not the time to blow it.  Here are seven constructive ways to conquer your nerves and claim victory at your appellate hearing:

  1. Stay busy.  Instead of fretting, devote your extra energy to preparation.
  2. Breathe often--and deeply.  In addition to being a basic requirement for all human life, breathing oxygenates your muscles and relieves tension.  Concentrate on taking slow, deep, regular breaths.
  3. Play the Quiet Game.  The day of your hearing--and, ideally, in the days leading up to it--set aside 15 minutes of each day for quiet meditation.  Shut off or avoid all phones, TVs, and attention-starved kitties.
  4. Choose to choose.  Learning to act deliberately--rather than reacting instinctively--is a habit you need to acquire through practice.  When you feel annoyed or angered by something, identify that feeling and replace it with a thought such as, "I have a right to be angered by this situation, but I choose not to feel that way."  
  5. Talk to yourself.  Work through your thoughts and feelings with an adversarial dialogue.  Play your employer and debate yourself, so that you can see the argument from all sides.  If that makes you seem like a crazy person, then so be it--at least you'll be a crazy person who receives unemployment benefits!
  6. Expect the unexpected.  Stay steps ahead of both your employer and the judge/referee, but be ready for something positive: consider, for instance, that employers often don't even show up to unemployment hearings.  You still must be prepared to deliver your case--but from a different angle.
  7. Have a banana--have two.  The ultimate brain food, bananas can elevate your mood, increase your concentration, and help to calm a noisy stomach.

These simple tips will help you remain composed and persuasive at your hearing--and as you prepare for it.  If, however, you remain doubtful, never hesitate to talk to an attorney.  (Remember: if you are unsure whether or not you need a lawyer, then that means you definitely need one!)