Leaving the job gracefully

Imagine a co-worker who trashes his cubicle, plays practical jokes on his replacement and slinks off with the fax machine on his last day of work. Is this a person you’d recommend to a prospective employer? Or expect your company to rehire? Or want to work with again? Probably not.

When leaving a job, it’s best to use decorum, whether the move is voluntary or forced. To make the best of an awkward situation, here are some tips to remember:

Be discreet. Leaving a job is strictly a private matter, and waving your dirty laundry serves no positive purpose.

Stay cool. Even in the context of a “confidential” exit interview, you gain nothing from expressing anger or listing grievances.

Keep your distance. Soliciting support from your co-workers (or creating dissent) might create the impression of a conspiracy or coup.

Don’t burn bridges. The company you left yesterday may need your services tomorrow, and vice versa. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.

It’s easy to be gracious when everything has gone well. But it takes an extra dose of character to show grace in a difficult situation. If you’re ever caught in a sudden job shift, keep your composure and consider the consequences of your actions.