Case in point: After nearly two decades in radio broadcasting, I found myself unemployed during the Recession of 2009. My replacement: an automated jukebox and a syndicated talk show.
Needless to say, I was pissed. More than that, I was hurt by how all those years of service (not to mention blood, sweat and tears) were so easily cast aside by people I considered to be friends. My invitation to leave the company was sent via email. So much for friendship.
As I walked into my former employer’s office for my exit interview, I had my game face on and was ready to do battle if necessary. I listened as he explained the company’s financial woes and how wonderful an employee I was and how he just knew I would find a better job (which I did), and that I was to vacate my office by the end of the week.
I sat there thinking how best to respond to this back-handed compliment. Should I clown, curse, cry or scream? Should I calmly leave all while plotting my revenge to blow up the place? Both seemed like good ideas at the time, but thank God I knew better.
In the midst of it all, I remembered that how you leave a job can have a huge impact on your future. Sure, I could have caused a major scene but in the end, I’d still be unemployed or even worse, thrown in a jail cell with somebody named Big Sal. Also, news of workplace drama travels fast so you have to consider how your retaliation might keep you from landing another job.
It’s important to remember that we have a choice to play the victim or the victor, and I chose to be victorious. It wasn’t easy though. My co-workers whispered and questioned; my bosses were cautious, especially when I thanked them for the opportunity to work with them (there were some good times). But I was determined to redeemed my time by being the consummate professional. My goal had always been to leave the place in a better state than when I found it, and I was determined to walk away with a good reputation. Besides, you never know when you’ll cross paths with these people again.
So if you find yourself in a similar situation, remember the actor on stage: when it’s time for your final curtain, take a bow, thank the audience and exit the stage with your head held high. But don’t go far. Your next act is about to begin.
Love to you, and enjoy the balance of your day.