How to Quit Your Job Without Burning a Bridge

You’re over and done with that place.

Your job is beyond tiresome, and sometimes you may find it hard to even get out of bed knowing that you have to go to *that place* again.

When you decide it’s time to leave the dance floor of your current gig, it feels as though the end cannot come fast enough, but you have to make sure that it’s on your terms or you could find yourself in an even more uncomfortable situation.

That, plus – let’s be totally self-serving here (because isn’t that what people want their coach to be – all about them? …they should…) and say that at some point you may find yourself needing one or more positive references from people you’ve worked with at that job you can’t wait to leave so you need to leave gracefully.

I’ve left positions both ways… setting fires to everything on the way out (the wrong choice) and on the opposite side of things have left very kindly (the right choice) despite believing the place deserved a blazing bonfire.

Being completely authentic and allowing my gritty humanity to show, I must admit that at the moment, setting off a bunch of fireworks felt better than leaving with my head held high and a (partially) genuine smile on my face; however, in hindsight keeping my mouth shut and taking the high road was definitely the better answer.

There are several “do not do’s” and several “absolutely do’s” for you to check off your list when it’s time to turn in your notice.

Make note of these and also check out the YouTube video we recently dropped on this topic.

  1. Be kind & never lie.

    I once worked for a complete tyrant who still to this day believes I like(d) her. I think she and I are “friends” on Facebook and I’m not one bit nervous that she’ll know I’m talking about her because she lacks the self-awareness to realize anyone would refer to her as a tyrant.
    On my way out of the time she was my supervisor and I handed in my notice, I thanked her for the example she gave me as a manager.
    My exact words to her were, “Thank you for showing me the kind of manager I want to be.”
    I totally left out the part about the way she showed that to me was through being one of the shittiest managers I would ever encounter.
    There was absolutely no reason for me to tell her what a loser she is – my words would not have landed in a place where they could have taken root and produced any fruit.

  2. Always find a positive spin.

    That last example is perfect for this point as well.
    My manager was a mean, spiteful, and small-minded person who would verbally abuse her team and then when it would turn out to be 4:00 pm on a Friday she would turn on a smile and want to chat about what people were going to do with their weekend.
    Hello, Dr. Jekyl, meet Mr. Hyde.
    She had two faces.
    I lacked the interest, energy, or opportunity of time to be able to fully educate her about the woes of her ways, so instead, I decided to find a positive spin.
    Through being, as I’ve already written, a tyrant and shitty manager, she showed me mistakes I did not want to make as a manager.

  3. Never take information with you.

    If you’re in a situation where you have generated a lot of contacts and business for your company, it stands to reason you will take contact information with you.
    That’s totally fine – and I’d even encourage you to do it.
    That’s not what I’m referring to here.
    What I’m talking about is taking it with you… and leaving no trace behind.
    I’ve encountered people as co-workers and as coaching clients who have deleted files after sharing them with their own personal emails.
    That’s stealing, y’all.
    Intellectual property law applies.
    When I was working with a nonprofit organization, there was an emotionally troubled narcissist working there on my team.
    She was the worst hire I’ve ever made – and she was in charge of data management.
    My leadership team and I knew she had to go, and we were working to fill the impending gap in our workforce while preserving the integrity of our digital files.
    Our plans met a quick end (meaning we showed her the door and locked her out) when we realized she had started destroying data files.
    No good.
    We were able to recall some things she tried to steal from the organization, and though we had an ironclad case, we chose to not prosecute her because it would not have been a good use of our time and resources.
    That said, we would have won and it would have ruined her career.

  4. Be humble.

    Nobody likes a sore winner.
    If you follow @drjane on TikTok, you’ll see several examples of a sore winner in my pre-teen daughter.
    She loves beating her little sister at anything – tic-tac-toe, a Nintendo game, or even making it to the door first.
    An easy way to set fire to your positive relationships at your soon-to-be-former place of employment is to have a big head about it.
    Remember where you learned some important lessons that helped you get your new position (if you’re leaving with a new position – and hopefully you are) and embrace humility.
    Don’t celebrate too much before you’re on the other side of the door… it could be a turn-off to people who you will need later or at least want to be friendly work-associates with later.

  5. Leave your successor a good starting point.

    This can be difficult if you’re leaving because of the organization’s choice and not yours but remember… it’s your integrity you’re taking care of, not the company in the long run.
    It’s always a good idea to be kind and leave the next person who will fill your seat some sort of an “owner’s manual” – you don’t have to do their work for them, but don’t leave a trail of bread crumbs that you know will be eaten by the birds, either.

  6. Be grateful.

    This piggybacks on our point about humility.
    Be grateful for all the lessons you learned at that job you’re leaving.
    Regardless of what has happened, why you’re leaving, or why you were/were not happy there, you did grow, learn, and experience some things that will help you build new professional and possibly personal experiences.
    Always be grateful.
    In all circumstances, find a point of gratitude.
    Each morning when I awaken our youngest child who we adopted into our family as an 8-year-old foster child who had many other foster homes before coming to be with us, I rub her back and guide her through a gratitude exercise.
    No matter how bad your life has been, is, or may become – one thing is true: your brain cannot focus on two things at once.
    If you intently focus on that for which you are truly grateful, the crappy stuff will end up melting away.
    If you’re like me, you’ll eventually forget most of it.

Bottom line: don’t burn bridges.

You never know when you’ll need to cross back over or when someone else would really need to approach from the other side.

Opportunities come from all angles; like I always tell GILD’s clients… there are no missed opportunities – only unrealized ones.

If you’re ready to uplevel your life, schedule a complimentary breakthrough session and let’s talk about it.

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