Breaking Up With Boss

5 Things To Avoid When Breaking Up With Your Boss


Quitting a job – quitting well, at least – can be hard work. There are plenty of missteps you can make that can end up hurting your career in the long term.

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Check out our list of things to avoid when breaking up with your boss.

1. Don’t Pull A Johnny Paycheck

It’s been the subject of countless daydreams: quitting your job. You rise from your second-rate, back-breaking desk chair. You stride through the maze of cubicles, eyes forward, deftly deflecting queries and attempts at conversation from your colleagues – Forget the expense report, Cathy. No, Bill, I don’t have an opinion on the President’s jobs plan.

And then you reach the door. It’s closed. No knocking today. You grasp the knob. Twist. Throw open the door. Finally, eye-to-eye with your nemesis, you deliver your attack: “Take this job and shove it.” (Yes… we know, Mr. Paycheck didn’t write the song. But he made it a hit.)

Pretty sweet, huh? Yeah. But don’t do it.

Instead: You must suppress the rage, stifle the snark, subdue the frustration. Smile. Be respectful. Give notice. Offer to help in the transition. It is, as the animatronic children at Disneyland say, a small world, after all.

People talk… about you. And unless you’ve recently come into several million dollars and plan on leaving the workforce forever, a less-than-conciliatory exit can come back to bite you later in your career.

2. Don’t Annoy Your Co-workers

You’re beginning to feel like an inmate –imprisoned unjustly, of course – with a release date just around the corner. All those people you work with, however, are still doing hard time… with no end in sight. Don’t talk about all the great stuff you’ll be doing once you’re on the outside.

Instead: Leaving on good terms with your colleagues is just as important as leaving on good terms with your boss. Don’t badmouth the company you’re leaving, and don’t brag about that great new company you’re moving to. Answer questions honestly.

But bear in mind that these people (some of whom you may actually like) are still stuck in the situation that you’re fleeing. You want them to have happy memories of you. Who knows, you may need one of them as a reference sometime, or even end up working with them again in the future.

3. Don’t Act Like A Short-timer

You’ve given notice. See that down there, at the end of the tunnel? It’s light. Two more weeks and it’s on to bigger and better things for you (a new and happier job, we hope). This can be a difficult time. While your body is there at your desk, your mind is far, far away. A little slacking is expected. Anyway, what are they going to do about it? Wrong attitude.

Instead: Do your best to fend off short-timer syndrome. No matter how you feel about the company or your boss, you want to leave on a high note – be a pro to the end. In your final days, you should strive to work at the same level that you have during your entire tenure at the company.

People aren’t necessarily going to remember that you put in back-to-back 18-hour days to finish a crucial, last-minute project two years ago. Colleagues – potential references and networking partners – will remember, however, that you came in late, slacked off and left early before abandoning them forever. You can never make another last impression.

4. Don’t Get Lured Back

You have a new job lined up, or you’ve squirreled away enough money to sustain yourself for a job search (we advise the latter). Your mind is made up. You’re out of there. So long. Sayonara. See you later. And, then, they hit you with a counter offer to get you to stay. More money, more vacation, better benefits, promises that “things will get better next quarter.” Tempting.

But don’t take it!

Instead: The moment you gave notice, your relationship with your boss morphed into something that resembles the relationship between an estranged couple. Now your spurned boss, whatever his motives, has entered a bargaining phase that often accompanies a breakup (I can change!).

But things won’t get better, likely they’ll get worse. You’ve demonstrated your unhappiness and lack of loyalty by accepting a new job (though some say that employer/employee loyalty is, in fact, long dead). Stick to your plan. Just thank your boss for the consideration and inform him that you’ll still be moving on. Many sources say that most people who accept a counter offer end up leaving within six months, anyway.

5. Don’t Hold A Grudge

And… you’re outta there. You cleared your desk of personal stuff, surrendered your iPhone and laptop, said your goodbyes and crossed that threshold for the last time. You strolled – maybe even swaggered – through the parking lot, fired up the car and headed off toward the horizon.

Congratulations. You have made a successful exit. Finally, you can start trashing your former company, boss and colleagues to anyone who will listen.


Instead: Let the past be the past. Don’t go around badmouthing your former employer, especially not to a new or prospective employer (or through social media). You’ll come off as vindictive… and, maybe, even a bit obsessive. It’s not healthy for your career or your psyche. And you never know when you’ll run into these people again.

This post was originally published at an earlier date.

Related Posts

6 Ways To Avoid Burning Bridges By Leaving A Job
6 Things To Do Before Leaving Your Job
Am I Ready To Quit My Job? Read This First


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  1. I agree with most of the points, especially with the social media tid bit.. Too often, people forget that what they put on the internet will probably stay on the internet well past the years they live. And people are not too easy to forgive and forget, even if it was a poor work experience…None the less, that experience probably got you to where you are today.

  2. Good point Ramesh. Still, fair is fair for everyone and at times it is not the fault of a well intentioned and hard working employee who was professionally seen having to leave due to a boss he or she faced that was nasty, unethical or unprofessional or a team or environment that is so. It should finally come as law of karma that anybody at any level who acts out in any way must be let go after not getting behavior together.

    Also, even though it is true that we cannot control who we will ever run into, we need a boundary from such toxic people who do malice or engage in drama as unacceptable or unprofessional and sadly there can be ex seniors, coworkers, subordinates or even clients who act as such and sadly I see no matter how good you act there will be one who writes a badreference or is negative and I wondee what to do and how not to have them win when they are clearly the problem.

    Seriously, there must be a way to get around someone from previous workplace even if you did everything you could to be on good terms but they acting out and with no human decency.


  3. Just a question…do you really mean it’s better to quit a job and then start a job search? Or was that meant to say “former”? I was always under the impression it was better to be employed when you’re searching!

  4. All excellent points. The world is indeed a small place, as we never know when we may bump into the very same people whom we chose to move away from. It’s always wise to maintain a ‘courteous’ relationship even with ex-bosses & ex-colleagues. Besides, there’s always the thing about prospective employers asking for references from the previous job. No one wants a bad reference, does one ?

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