Saying Goodbye at Work – 6 Tips When Someone Leaves

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empty-cubeMy friend called this morning for advice.? He couldn’t understand why the email he had sent to a person he met Friday had been returned.? It turns out that the person had been fired without notice late Friday afternoon.? Perhaps she worked for one of the Bobs (Bob Slydell and Bob Porter) from Office Space.

Sudden or lengthy, work goodbyes are a reality for all of us.? Here are some points to keep in mind the next time you find yourself watching a co-worker packing up for the last time.

Don?t Lie

Some people are not all that pleasant to work with.? If the person leaving is someone you don?t care for, the saying, If you can?t think of anything nice to say, don?t say anything at all is good to remember.? It?s sometimes far easier to say all kinds of falsehoods.? If you have to say something, instead of making something up, why not try this: I sincerely wish you well.

As the Rabbi said in Fiddler on the Roof when asked to provide a blessing for the Czar, May God bless and keep the Czar far away from here!? It?s okay to be happy that someone is going out of your life.

Remember Successes

This is a wonderful opportunity to recall genuine project and task successes that were accomplished through the efforts of the person who is leaving.

What do you Admire?

Take the time to come up with one or two traits or skills that you truly respect about the person.? It?s good to tell them in person, and to give some examples of how you?ve seen them in action.? If it feels uncomfortable to speak this out loud (guys – this is directed to you), it?s even more effective to send in a private email direct to the person.

Don?t be surprised if such an email is treasured for years to come.? Most people very rarely get true and positive feedback out of the blue.

Offer to be a Reference

If you respect the person and believe that you can give a glowing recommendation, offer to do so.? Better yet, write a paragraph or two and send it to them by email or post it on LinkedIn.

Feel free to make a Clean Break

Feel comfortable making a clean break – if that?s what you want.? If you don?t plan on remaining in touch, don?t imply anything to the contrary.? It?s a small world – and a very big one, too.? You really may not see them again unless you go out of your way to do so.

Make a Point to Stay Connected

If you like the person, and want them to remain in your life, set an intention to do everything in your power to make that happen.

  • Set a specific date to meet for lunch 2 weeks from now – and keep it.
  • Add them to your twitter and IM accounts.? Make them one of the people that you contact regularly.
  • Invite them to dinner or for drinks sometime in the next month.

Transitioning relationships from work into other parts of our lives requires a little work – but can happen.? It won?t happen automatically though.

Goodbyes are sad and hard for most of us.

They remind us of our own vulnerability.

What do you do when it?s time to say goodbye?

This post was previously published as How to Say Goodbye When a Workmate Leaves.
(ccPhoto credit: ssssteve.o)