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Don’t hang yourself over cutting ties

Published on Friday, 05 Apr 2013
Photo: iStockphoto

"I quit!” What put-upon worker hasn’t fantasised about saying those words and storming out the door? While it’s already fairly common for people to feel the urge to quit their job when  they hit a rough patch, it’s a thought that is surfacing in the minds of more employees these days, says US-based clinical psychologist Nancy Molitor.
 
Many of Molitor’s clients have hunkered down at the same company over the last few years and are just grateful to have a job. Some were promised raises or bonuses once the recession ended, she says, but now that better times are here, companies are hanging onto their cash and holding back promised rewards. This can lead to worker resentment and a higher likelihood of heading for the door.
 
Sometimes an employee wants to quit because of an untenable working situation, such as anoverbearing boss, a difficult co-worker or a crushing workload. Often, the reasons for feeling upset and wanting to quit are legitimate, Molitor says.
 
She adds, though, that because resigning has huge consequences, you should never make that decision while in the grip of intense emotion. Wait at least a week and in the meantime discuss your feelings with a close friend or family member. Colleagues are another option – they may have a much better grasp of office politics – but make sure you trust them completely to keep your confidence.
 
Anytime you cannot concentrate, or find yourself thinking the same thoughts about your job over and over again, is a huge red flag, Molitor says. You are reacting to pure adrenaline and emotion. Take some time to calm down and if necessary seek professional help. If you feel you are in danger of quitting suddenly, take a day off to clear your head.
 
Sometimes when we feel unhappy or helpless in our personal lives, we project that onto our jobs – and onto the boss, who has power over us.
 
Many employees need to work harder at advocating for themselves, Molitor adds. If you felt that you deserved a raise and didn’t get one, try asking for one and you might succeed. When preparing to talk to your boss about your concerns, it’s wise to write down your points in advance. “That forces you to be coherent,” she says.
 
After careful consideration, you may determine that your only option is to resign, but do so politely, and with plenty of notice. If you quit in a huff and make a dramatic exit, you can  probably forget about using your employer as a reference, and word will most likely get out that you left your company in the lurch.
 
Suzanne Lucas, who writes a blog called the Evil HR Lady, said in a column that it’s generally a bad idea and “just darn rude” to quit a job on the spot. But she notes exceptions that would justify a quick departure, such as if staying in a job would put you in some kind of danger – for example if there was a violent co-worker or a safety violation – or would make you break the law or violate your ethical standards.
 
According to the “peak end rule”, the final memory that your co-workers have of you is likely to be much more vivid than most others, says Robert Sutton, a professor and organisational psychologist at Stanford University. If possible, you want that memory to be positive.
 
“I’m a big fan of quitting,” he says, “so long as it’s done for the right reasons and in the right way.”
 
New York Times News Service

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