Leaving Well: Three Musts For a Well-Heeled Departure

We’ve all seen “poor exits” – from our company or organization. But how about good ones? If none come to mind, that’s because we don’t hear so much about those. Why? Those “leaving the building” do so professionally, in silence, even though they may have be wronged.

If you haven’t already been in the situation where you, too, are eyeing the door, don’t worry: Your time will come.

We all find ourselves at some point itching to move on; the situations that lead us to consider a, perhaps, less-than-classy exit strategy, are usually not precipitated by monetary issues – our pay is lacking, the benefits aren’t as rich as we’d like.


Usually these events are relationship or culture-centered. We’re frustrated and angry, and we want desperately to get out of what is, to us, a toxic environment.

Hold on, though. In our emotional, devil-may-care state, our manners go out the window. And you can kiss a lot more than manners goodbye if you act off of your emotions. Before you let fly on your feelings, remember, this isn’t the movies. This isn’t “Office Space,” and acting like Peter Gibbons won’t get you promoted. So, pause, breathe and, if you have to, do this:

  1. Bite your tongue. Bite it till it bleeds if you have to! That way, you won’t use that tongue to rattle off your subjective opinion about a person, or circumstance, or the entire organization as a whole. You want to be known for your conduct, yes, your GOOD conduct. Be known for decorum, even when everyone else around you may believe that your leaving is justified.
  2. Fulfill Your Obligations. Tie up any loose ends before you go, and finish all remaining duties to the best of your ability, as you always would. End on a high note, by performing thoroughly and professionally. It’s probably going to get more awkward, and your emotion or resentment may swell even more before you actually leave, but finish well. Period.
  3. Resist the Temptation … to talk … even after you leave said toxic environment. “Vengeance” and “chips on your shoulder” are never the “it” looks for the season, and nobody wears them well. Even if you’ve been wronged, don’t talk like you’ve been [wronged] to potential employees, peers, ex-colleagues – you name it – about your ex-employer. Vent to your significant other, a friend, or dog, if you must get it off your chest. Silence really is your golden ticket on this one.


In this moment of desperation, you may throw caution to the wind. Just don’t. Don’t let this moment define you as a poor prospect employee or person of questionable character and integrity. Don’t close the doors to opportunities; instead see this moment, even the tough events that culminated in it, as THE opportunity to go on to an environment that is a better fit for you, culturally and professionally.

Wear the Super Professional “S”; don’t be scarred with the Scarlet Letter “U” (Un-employable)!

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