Friday, December 28, 2012

The "I'm leaving..." talk

Many of you have been asking lately about the actual conversation in which you break the news of your leaving to your dad/mother/family member. I know the thought of this talk turns your stomach, and I hope this post helps calm that by providing some guidelines around dos-and-don'ts.

But before I begin, I want to take a minute to talk about the emotions surrounding this talk. The emotions — which by this time are high (probably on both sides) — make keeping calm and staying cool almost an impossible task. Plus, at these levels, they tend to beat rational thinking. You are dreading the talk because deep down you know that emotions will probably take over, preventing you from thinking straight and getting your message out clearly. You are worried that you will end up sounding like a child... And really, by letting the emotions take control, you are sitting the child in the driver's seat. And that's never a good idea! So how do we sit the adult behind the wheel?

I put together this short list of things to keep in mind to help focus your thoughts, and by that reduce your stress levels:
  1. Relieve some of the stress by preparing your message in advance.
    Sure, you've been thinking about this talk from the get-go, but you've been thinking about it with a lot of emotion, which needs to be removed from the equation. Make sure your message is concise and to-the-point. Writing it down beforehand helps, as having it prepared in your head is another way to avoid letting the child take over. (If you feel that the stress or emotion will get the better of you, then by all means, read it from the paper if you think it will help.)
  2. Don't use feelings to legitimize your actions.
    Saying things like "I feel like I am being smothered" opens the conversation up to debate as each side will try to explain/retort the feeling/emotion (remember, feelings cannot be rationalized). Instead, keep it simple and straightforward: "Working in the business is not for me anymore. I have decided to leave". With that in mind, you should know that there is really no need to legitimize your actions at all. You have decided to leave — for whatever reasons — and you are letting them know.
  3. Don't cast blame.
    Don't say things like "it's your fault — you never appreciated the work I did". This will start an argument in which each side will try to prove (or avoid) the blame, taking the attention away from the real reason you are having this talk in the first place: you're leaving. (Remember: you do not need to legitimize you actions; casting blame is a form of legitimization.)
  4. As hard as it is, be sympathetic.
    The family you are leaving, has not prepared for this talk like you have. This could be a punch in the face to them (and could be out of nowhere). Allow them to exhibit their emotions and remember, they are just people overcome with emotions — they don't think rationally. Another reason, why your message should be very clear and lacking feelings or blame.
  5. Expect the best, plan for the worst.
    This talk can go anywhere from deep sadness to bitter anger, each leading to different outcomes. Be prepared for a "storm" and understand that there will be plenty of time — once you've all calmed down — to talk more. For now, for this specific talk, your only worry is to convey the message that you are leaving.
  6. There are no victors or losers.
    This isn't a battle. You do not need to win/beat/defeat your family member. There is no need to be right. You are here to deliver the message that you are leaving and you want to do it in a way that will cause the least damage. Understanding that this is not a fight goes a long way to calm the emotions.
The most important thing though, is that you show up yourself and deliver the message. In the long run, it will have a long-lasting effect on your self-esteem.

Stay focused, stay calm. You're almost there...

Monday, December 24, 2012

Season's Greetings!

It's been a while since my last post, I know... My mind has been elsewhere, thinking about careers and life and planning it all (I'm coming to the conclusion that this is not really possible, but more on this later...)

Anyway, I'm organizing my thoughts and will be back shortly to share.

In the meantime, know that I am always here (as promised) so feel free to drop me a line.

I hope you have a peaceful, joyful and restful holiday season; and that 2013 brings lots of health, happiness and great success to us all. (And that we all continue to follow our hearts' calling!)