How to Say Goodbye & Tactfully Leave Your Job

GOODBYEIf you’ve ever given your two-week notice to your boss and then scurried to wrap up loose ends and train a colleague or two, you’re not alone.

Naturally, you’ve also experienced the fine line of keeping emotions in check as you’re mentally checked out. You’re eager to move onto your next job while still having to say meaningful goodbyes and gratitude to your current peers and boss.

According to a piece published by The Harvard Business School, endings tend to “creep up on us and catch us unprepared.” We may miss the opportunity to enjoy meaningful endings by focusing too much on the future as we “race toward the new.”

Here are a few ways to say poignant goodbyes:

1. Mark the occasion. Your department may take you out for lunch or mark your exit with a communal card full of gratitude but whatever the gesture, the point is there should be one. Rituals are effective to acknowledge and deal with emotions along with concrete endings and beginnings.22

2. Manage the emotion. The piece points out that endings are emotional experiences. And technically, they should be emotional. The ability to express emotions “help ensure that an actual ending occurs.” Without emotions, you may leave your job and colleagues feeling like important things were left unsaid and then there’s the weird feeling of not having closure.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean getting too emotional and sappy. Yes, it’s okay if you feel teary to go ahead and feel that emotion and if you don’t gear teary-eyed, there’s no need to beat yourself up over that either. Everyone deals with emotions differently but the piece recommends putting boundaries in place to “help us contain those emotions, conclude the experience and move on.”

3. Accept — and prepare for — the letdown. This point is important because you may feel like you’re handling an ending well but there could be a sense of loss when it’s over. This is particularly true if you lost your job instead of resigning in order to move on to another role. According to the piece, any type of reluctance to acknowledge finite endings can point back to resistance to feeling emotions. Let yourself sit with the loss, experience it and then get ready for new relationships and experiences brought forth by your new job.