The Way to Leave

Last week I posted on “endings”, which led to further pondering on “ways to leave.”

Leaving is a part of life.  We leave jobs, cities, organizations, and sadly at times, even people.

There is an art to leaving, and learning it well can create possibilities and doors left open vs. slamming shut.

Within a year of my Deloitte job transfer from Tulsa to New York City, I got a job offer “too good to refuse” from the top PR Firm in the city.  It felt a bit premature to leave, but would I be a fool if I didn’t take it?

Rather than hide considerations and processing from my bosses, I decided to tell them openly and let them weigh in.  It felt a bit awkward, but immediately it positioned us as collaborators vs. opponents.

I let them in on my thinking which included financial, positional, and opportunity considerations.  Both bosses understood and by the time we were done discussing over a period of a week or more, everyone agreed it was an offer not to refuse.

Within the first six months at the PR Firm the economy took a dive and my role was in peril, something I was unaware of when one of my Deloitte bosses took me to lunch two weeks prior to my layoff, just to catch up. 

Now I was calling him asking if he might consider me for an opening he’d mentioned. Within just two weeks I was back at Deloitte in a better position with higher pay.

This experience was a great reminder of something I’ve learned many times since, on both ends of similar deliberations.  The way we leave matters.  It contributes to our “brand” and has the potential to involve and engage those we’re leaving or can leave them out in the cold with negativity that’s tough to break.

The world is small and relationships are more closely networked than you might imagine.  None of us can risk offending or disregarding anyone when we leave, even when a departure is logical or justified.

Leave well, carefully, and treat those you’re leaving like YOU would want to be left.  It’s a golden opportunity to make a lasting impression that keeps the door from slamming behind you on the way out.  “I hate that she’s leaving and sure hope I see her again,” is always my goal.

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