How to Quit Your Job: What to Do If Your Boss Freaks Out

Photo Credit:  Marcel

Photo Credit: Marcel

Resigning from your job should be a straightforward conversation to have with your boss. However, whether you’ve worked at this organization for seven months or seven years, it’s never easy to say you’ve accepted a better offer elsewhere. It’s uncomfortable and tough. Most bosses usually understand, but there are some who don’t handle the news very well and some who totally reject it.

Even though you’ve been preparing your resignation conversation by establishing your key talking points and practicing what you’ll say with confidence, you should also be ready to handle an emotional reaction. Hopefully, you’ve been working with your boss long enough to predict how they’ll react. If you anticipate a potentially negative response or a full-on freak out, you should be prepared to deflect some pretty harsh comments.

How to Quit Your Job: What to Do If Your Boss Freaks Out

For a boss, an employee quitting can feel deeply personal (especially if they value loyalty) and if you’ve become an integral part of the organization’s success or operations, the very notion of your absence could send your boss into a panic. Though you’ll do your best to keep the conversation from being emotional, it’s important to have short and clear answers to questions like “Why are you leaving?,” “Why didn’t you say you were unhappy,” or “What did I do wrong?” and statements like “I can’t believe you’re just leaving” or “this is really going to hurt this company.”

Depending on your boss’s level of emotional maturity (or immaturity), they may really say some harsh things. It’s important to remember that your current job description likely does not include managing your boss’ emotions or bearing the brunt of a freakout. Don’t take the bait on something hurtful, rude, or flat-out insulting; rather, restate the facts. Have a script in mind to fall back on—use the one below for inspiration.

“It’s time for me to take the next step in my career, to better align my responsibilities with my long-term career goals, and I have the right opportunity to do so. I can see this is really affecting you right now, and I know this presents challenges for this organization and what the next phase of the company looks like. This is exactly why I want to get focused on making the most of my remaining weeks, and ensuring the company is prepared for my departure. When do you think you’ll feel ready to have that planning conversation?”

Resigning from your job could feel like a messy breakup, but it’s not your job to handle your boss’s emotions. Maintain your composure despite what they might say and keep it professional. You need to focus the conversation on your news and creating a plan for your departure. And immediately after the meeting has concluded, send an email confirming your resignation effective date.

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