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Don't Win the Breakup

No working relationship lasts forever. Every employee on earth will eventually quit or get fired, so it's important to do it well.

We often sense that the other person is slandering us (or our team, company, etc). Reputations are important, so the stakes are high. It's easy to fool ourselves into this line of thought:

  • If I don't assign blame to the other person, they'll assign it to me!
  • I should "fight fire with fire" (or strike preemptively).

This isn't how reputations work, though. Once the accusations start flying, the amount of blame grows exponentially. If you just let them gossip about you & don't retaliate, you'll come out cleaner than if you fight to clarify everything.

The best predictor of how a person will handle future breakups is how they handled their previous ones. If someone talks poorly about former co-workers, they'll eventually talk poorly about their current ones. Therefore, everyone who hears their gossip today will, eventually, be gossipped about by the same person. The arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

This specific advice applies to quitting, but the more general idea is that work is personal. If we truly care about our jobs, then our messy human side will inevitably spill over into our careers. Boundaries can help, but it's easier to just be a virtuous person, so that whatever spills over is good.

May our daily lives reflect the longing in our hearts.