Planning a Dramatic Exit? 5 Reasons to Go Quietly

by Cathy Vandewater | August 02, 2011

  • My Vault

Okay, that Whole Foods letter was pretty epic, as was Steven Slater's slide-out. And you've gotta love sweet, best-selling book deal revenge (we're looking at you, Lauren Weisberger). But short term glory via job-related rants does not always equal long term success.

Rather, it almost guMiltonarantees consequences for years to come. Steven Slater can't find another job. Lauren Weisberger has to hide from Anna Wintour at fashion shows. Whole Foods guy ruined his chances of working at any other Whole Foods stores and Walmart. (Though we doubt that's too devastating).

Still, if you must quit, reconsider the dramatic exit: it may seriously hurt your career in the long run, not to mention friendships with coworkers, your reputation, and even the way you feel about yourself.

Seeing red? Here are a few points to consider that may just talk you down from the "I don't care if I embarrass myself" ledge. Because you will care later. We promise.

1. Your grievances will be overshadowed by your behavior

Take Cops. You know how as that shirtless drunk guy gets pushed into a police car, he always has some kind of weak excuse for assaulting someone? Like, "She wouldn't give me back my phone!" Sounds lame, huh?

However tyrannical your boss may be, your more recent (and public) transgressions will appear far worse in comparison. Also important to note: everybody's had bosses that gave them too much work, spoke rudely to them, or made them get coffee. If you cite that as a reason for unprofessional behavior (or in this case, a dramatic exit), you'll just look petty.

2. Acting out will weaken a lawsuit

Sexual harassment or discrimination is an understandable motivation for throwing coffee in someone's face—but we suggest you put the mug down. If you think you have a case against your boss, get a lawyer. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. And definitely don't pitch a fit at the office. Every angry word or action you take can undermine the event that took place, and give defense lawyers plenty of juicy material for a countersuit, or even libel charges. Zip it.

3. You'll burn bridges—and not just with your boss

Chances are, the Whole Foods worker who penned an angry manifesto had many coworkers on his side. Until he outed them in an angry manifesto. Workplace drama doesn't just damage your relationship with your boss (who'll you'll need a reference from someday, remember), it also hurts the trust of your coworkers, who will not appreciate being used as ammunition for a personal battle.

Even if you think they're justified, outbursts or other unpredictable behavior just aren't appropriate at work. And remember: you get to leave, but your coworkers will be stuck in the unsettling working conditions you leave behind. Be a team member, even as you quit, or risk being LinkedIn-friendless during your job search.

4. You'll live in fear

Being an office legend sounds good now, but what about when it comes time to find other jobs? Imagine spending the next few years of your life dodging interview questions and references requests regarding your old job. That kind of stress and shame (and possible lost opportunities) is not worth 10 minutes of personal glory.

Want to really make your boss look like a jerk? Use the power of juxtaposition. By modeling your own behavior as stark contrast of restraint and politesse, you'll make your boss's misconduct look all the worse.

5. You'll cast a permanent shadow over the job

If you're unhappy, it's definitely time to move on. But don't make your run with a company all about your last day. Chances are you had some positive experiences too: learning new skills, making friends with coworkers, or even just discovering what kind of job or workplace definitely doesn't work for you. It may be hard to imagine now, but you won't always feel this badly about your job, so don't taint your memories of it with an ugly scene.

Instead, take a deep breath, resign gracefully, and set a date to meet up with old coworkers for drinks and laugh about it all. Or, console yourself with the knowledge that, thanks to a quiet, professional exit, the "oops, I forgot my keys at my desk" run to the office 10 minutes after you quit will not be as excruciating. Well done.

--Cathy Vandewater, Vault.com

Filed Under: Workplace Issues

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