Quitting your job can be daunting, but telling your co-workers that you’re leaving, well that can be just as difficult. And how you choose to undertake this task has the power to set the tone for your entire service to the company, your departure and your farewell celebration.

Regardless of the circumstances leading to your departure, it is never easy to say goodbye. It is important to leave on good terms though and that starts with informing your employer of your intention to move on (assuming you weren’t fired!). You don’t want the rumour mill taking care of this responsibility for you. Once that nerve wracking task is out of the way, it’s time to let your co-workers know that your days with them are numbered.

For some of you it may be difficult to find that balance between excitement and saying just enough for your colleagues to be genuinely happy for you. Believe it or not, resigning can incite jealously and resentment in others if communicated with too much enthusiasm! You want your team to know that you enjoyed working with them, that they’re amazing and while you will remember them with fondness, you will miss them.

Many of you will send an email to let your colleagues know that you are moving on, a task that can generate some strong emotions for you. Of course you don’t want to entitle your email, “Later losers!” or anything to that effect. You do want to deliver a heartfelt goodbye. “A fond farewell” would be a much better opening to entice your colleagues to read about your departure with less bias.

Your email may mention that deciding to leave was a tough decision as you enjoyed your time with the company and your co-workers very much. You may thank your employer and your colleagues for all they have taught you and were grateful for the opportunity to impart some of your knowledge too. Highlight the length of your tenure, the teams and the projects you were involved with and the exciting contributions made to the future of the company. Chat about your next chapter and include your contact details for those that would like to stay in touch. It isn’t really always goodbye, it’s just a divergence of your pathways and you will again meet up. And if you have some insightful words of wisdom for the future, well, it’s a great time to share them. Words of inspiration will long be remembered and so will you for sharing them.

There will be some colleagues that you will want to personally say goodbye to. Yet be sure to say these goodbyes ahead of time. Rushing your farewells with one foot out the door is neither professional nor personal and may offend. It’s likely that once word of your departure has spread, your colleagues will seek you out for a more in-depth discussion about your future, leaving you with their warm well wishes. Be mindful though that you are in a professional environment, so keep your goodbyes brief. There will likely be many of them! And if you’re not already connected through social media platforms, be sure to make your Facebook connections before you leave. You can add to your LinkedIn contacts in the weeks following where you would like to maintain a professional relationship. You never know when you will need to network with a connection or seek out a reference in business.

Clearly not all of us leave on the best terms. So even if you have been pushed out the door or are leaving in frustration, maintain your composure, despite this proving to be quite a challenge. Above all, don’t take the opportunity to express to your boss exactly what you think of them. Or the company. You don’t want to be remembered for a farewell that rivals the Jerry McGuire ‘firing’ scene. Even though the movie had a great ending! No. Stay positive, you will be glad you did so. You can invite your closer work friends out to a more relaxed setting where you can say your goodbyes without the pressure of the working environment.

It’s certainly is a tough gig, voicing your departure to your co-workers. You develop bonds with one another and they are not always easy to let go of. Many of us never let go as we recognise our work colleagues as much more than our right hand, they are our friends. And there will be ample opportunity to continue the friendships once you have ‘left the building’. While working through your final days of employment with your current employer, keep your behaviour professional, your goodbyes short and sweet, and the door wide open for a return or favour in the future. You never know where your path will lead you, perhaps you will come full circle…literally!

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