Perhaps you know the feeling well; that burning desire to stand up in a meeting, flip your notes in the air, scream at your boss that you’re done with ‘this’, and storm out towards a better and more successful working life.
But as comforting and exciting as this daydream may seem when you’ve got deadlines breathing down your neck and a punitive boss demanding more from you while he or she swans about having long lunches, truth is, it probably isn’t the best strategy for your career in the long-run.
Psychologist and career expert Suzie Plush shed some wisdom on how you should actually leave and what to do when you work for a manager who really pushes your buttons.
“You don’t want to burn bridges in your career,” Plush says. “You want to make sure you leave on good terms. It’s a small world and you don’t know how the way you leave will impact you in the long run.”
“No matter what good work you’ve done; people will remember how you left, not what you’ve done.”
Particularly if you’re in a niche industry, or you’re going to be relying on your previous workplace for a future reference, you should be careful about how you leave. “No matter what good work you’ve done; people will remember how you left, not what you’ve done,” she says.
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Plush recommends tuning into your own values and asking, “How do I want to be remembered?” The situation might be dire, but you can still be polite to the person causing the conflict.
Learn to control your emotions
“You don’t want to set up a pattern of being emotionally impulsive, where you let the emotion of the moment dictate the choices you make. Check in with yourself emotionally. Have a breather and get to a calm place before you make that call.”
For those moments when you are literally biting your tongue and breathing through the urge to throw it all in, Plush suggests, “Waiting a week before you resign, so you aren’t in an emotional state when you do it. You’re more likely to say things you’re going to regret when you’re highly emotional.” Remember her first tip of leaving well?
Control what you can control
“Ask yourself, even though circumstantially this is tough, what can I control?” You can control the standard of your work and how you respond to the difficult situations. “Do things outside of work that recharges you and gives you satisfaction. This will help it balance out a little bit,” Plush recommends.
Perhaps if you’re feeling creatively dry, book in a pottery class. Or find a lecture on an interesting topic to get you thinking. Take a lunch break and go to the gym or a yoga class. Getting away from your desk and doing something for you will make you feel more in control of your situation and able to respond well.
Dealing with difficult managers
Maybe you love the work you do, or you can’t leave until you find another job. So can you try to confront the situation and work towards a solution?
“If you don’t get along with your manger and there’s no indication that they are leaving the business, you should think about finding another job,” says Plush. “If you’re constantly being micromanaged, or they’re trying to push you out, it’s a losing battle. And, most importantly, it’s not good for your mental health.
“Although you can try to build relationships with other people in leadership, so you have more allies. If you’ve got one direct manager and you’ve got a linear hierarchy, you need to think about how you confront the manager or if you take it higher. In most cases, it won’t work in your favour, unfortunately.”
So if you’re struggling your way through a tough situation, remember to look at what you can control, stay true to your values, do something that makes you happy outside of work, and aim to leave on good terms.
Suzie Plush is a psychologist and career expert.