In the doghouse...again
In the doghouse...again (Photo credit: maxymedia)

by Phyllis Korkki

"I quit!"

What beleaguered worker hasn't fantasized about saying those words and walking out the door? Wisely, most don't go that far, at least not then and there.

It's fairly common to feel a passing urge to quit your job when you've hit a rough patch, says Nancy S. Molitor, a clinical psychologist in Wilmette, Illinois, and a psychologist and public education coordinator for the American Psychological Association. But she said the idea is surfacing in more employees' minds these days.

Many of the clients have acquiesced at their jobs over last five or six years, just grateful to be employed in an uncertain economy, Dr. Molitor siad. Some were promised raise or bonuses or stock once the recession ended, but now that better times have arrived, companies are hanging onto their cash and withholding those promised rewards, she said.

One result is employee resentment.

Sometimes an employee wants to quit because of an untenable working situation: an overbearing boss, a difficult co-worker, a crushing workload. Often, the reasons for feeling upset and wanting to quit are legitimate, Dr. Molitor said.

But resigning has huge consequences, so you never want to make that decision while in the grip of intense emotion, she said.

Wait at least a week. Discuss your feelings with a friend, family member or therapist. Colleagues are another option -- they may have a much better grasp of office politics -- but amek sure you trust them to keep your confidence, she said.

Anytime you cannot concentrate, or if you find yourself thinking the same thoughts about your job over and over again, "that's a huge red flag," she said. You are reacting to pure adrenaline and emotion. Take some time to calm down, and if necessary seek professional help. If you feel you are in danger of quitting suddenly, take a day off to clear you head, she advised.

Sometimes when we feel unhappy or helpless in our personal lives, we project that onto our jobs -- and onto the boss, who has power over us, Dr. Molitor said.

Once you have cleared your head and separated emotion from reality, you may be able to find a way to change your work situation so that it's no longer intolerable, Dr. Molitor said.

Many employees need to work harder at advocating for themselves, she said. If you felt that you deserved a raise and didn't get one, try asking for one and you might succeed, she said.

When preparing to talk to your boss about your concerns, it's wise to write down your points in advance, she added: "That forces you to be coherent."

After careful consideration, you may determine that your only option is to resign, but do so politely, and with plenty of notice. If you quit suddenly and make a dramatic exit, you can probably forget about your employer as a reference, and word will spread that you left your company in a troubled situation.

Suzanne Lucas, a former human relations professional who writes a blog called the Evil HR Lady, says in a column for CBS News that it's generally a bad idea and "just darn rude" to quit a job on the spot. But she notes exceptions that would justify a quick departure -- for example, if staying in a job would put you in some kind of danger (a violent co-worker, say, or a safety violation), or would make you break the law or violate your ethical or religious standards.

In most cases, though, you can give notice. Just try to be gracious, because "how you end things is incredibly important," said Robert I. Sutton, a professor and an organizational psychologist at Stanford University in California.

According to the "peak end rule," as articulated by the psychologist Daniel Kahneman, the final memory that your co-workers have of you is likely to be much more vivid than most others, Professor Sutton said. If possible, you want that memory to be positive. He said that you, too, would feel better about the experience in retrospect if you quit in a graceful way.

"I'm a big fan of quitting," Professor Sutton said, so long as it's done for the right reasons and in the right way.

Taken from TODAY Saturday Edition, April 20, 2013


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