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Work Daze: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

You’ve been dreaming about it for years — the singular, magical moment when the ball and chain is removed from your ankle. Your sentence has been commuted; your time has been served; and you can leave your job forever.

Whether you’ve been fired or you actually made good on your promises to quit, you no longer have a job. You’re free!

And what is the question that haunts you as you carry your box of Hummel figurines to the parking lot? It’s what should you say in emails to the wonderful, caring people who made your work life a living hell.

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That’s right!

“Whether you loved your role or hated it, saying bye to the people you’ve worked closely with is enough to inspire some sweaty palms,” writes Kat Boogaard in her posting on the muse.com, “and maybe even a lump of sadness that mysteriously lodges itself in your throat.”

Putting aside the probability that the lump is better explained by your final visit to the bottomless macaroni and cheese bar at the company cafeteria, the desire to permanently end your business relationship with a series of carefully-crafted farewell emails could make sense.

But what do you write? That’s what Boogaard tells you in “7 Goodbye Email Templates You’ll Need When You Quit Your Job.”

Since you’ve been composing your goodbye email from Day One, you may think that you don’t need help, but let’s face it, not everyone deserves the same email farewell.

“I hate your teeth. I hate your shoelaces,” is a lovely sentiment for a manager, but not particularly appropriate for your co-worker, who, in fact, has lovely shoelaces. That’s where Boogaard’s work comes in handy.

As it happens, all seven templates have certain similarities.

For example, each starts with a greeting. For a co-worker you’re really close to, the greeting is “Hey, (Name.)” For everyone else it’s “Hello, (Name.)”

I recommend more specificity. “Good news, (Name,) you toxic bozo,” is a more personal greeting, and sure to be appreciated.

The next line is a variation of “As you already know, I’ll be leaving my position as (job title) here at (Company,) and my last day is (date).”

Theoretically, you are supposed to fill-in the parentheses with specific references related to your particular job. I recommend that you don’t. Even the dimmest of your recipients probably knows the name of the company where you both are employed. Since you did so little work, they surely never knew your job title, so why upset them now with the news that you actually had one.

Don’t worry about mentioning the date, either. All the balloons and banners going up on your last day will give them a clue, as will the 30-piece marching band management hires to escort you out the front door.

As Boogaard suggests, certain parts of your goodbye email should be customized. For your manager, she suggests, “I’ve learned so much from your experience, advice, and guidance over the past (length of time.)” You can certainly insert the actual time, but I think your manager would appreciate honest feedback. Write in “30 seconds.”

There is also a separate template for your direct reports, which includes the great line, “It has been such a pleasure to lead you here.” Don’t let the fact that you have no direct reports stop you from using this language. Just think of the weeks of consternation you will leave behind as your co-workers chew on the idea that you actually thought of yourself as their boss.

If you had clients in your job, there is an email template for them, too. You can certainly use the recommended, “It’s been a pleasure getting to know you better” and the helpful “let me know if there are any loose ends you’d like me to tie up before I leave.” But don’t forget to let them know you treasure the personal aspects of your relationship, as in “I will never forget our night at the (strip club) when you told me about the time you (activity) a member of the (department.) I’m sure your (spouse) would love that story, which I will keep secret for a payment of (amount) in Bitcoins deposited to my account at (offshore Caribbean bank.)”

Yes, it will take some effort to send farewell emails to the people with whom you’ve worked, but if you can make their lives just a little bit more miserable after you’ve left, it will certainly be worth it.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com

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