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Etiquette on a Coworker Leaving

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Saying goodbye to a coworker who is leaving a workplace can constitute a difficult social dynamic. If the person is leaving because he has been fired, relations between employees who still have their jobs may become awkward, as he may resent those who are not leaving under the same circumstances. However, if a coworker is leaving a job because he has found a preferable alternative, saying goodbye should be a bittersweet experience of sadness for his impending absence and happiness for his future.

Providing Support

Put the emotions of the coworker who is leaving before your own feelings. Even if you feel sadness because of the loss and do not know how you will continue to complete your work, do not complain. Instead provide support and allow the person who is leaving to express her frustrations and apprehensions. Help a coworker by displaying selfless behavior as she goes through a difficult time.

Dealing with Guilt

If you are responsible for a coworker leaving, either because you reported poor conduct on his behalf or because you are taking over his job, you are not required to acknowledge fault when saying goodbye. However, consider whether your role in the loss of this person’s job will weigh on you in the future. You may both feel better if you take advantage of a final opportunity to apologize.

Staying Positive

If a coworker that you are fond of has been laid off and is feeling depressed and negative, try to improve his mood and boost his self-esteem. Tell him that you’ll miss him and that you’ve enjoyed working with him. Comfort him by reassuring him that the company that fired him has lost a fine employee. Having supportive friends will make it easier for your coworker to begin the job hunt with confidence.

Celebrating New Beginnings

Whether your coworker has been fired or is leaving to pursue other options, you can turn a potentially sad day into a celebration of new beginnings. Chip in with other employees to take your coworker out to dinner or buy her a going-away present. Turning a day of goodbyes into a celebration will remind your coworker that people care about her and will make the transition easier for her to bear.

  • “Business Etiquette for Dummies”; Sue Fox; 2008

Emma Rensch earned her B.A. in writing for contemporary media from Scripps College in 2011. Currently, she lives and writes in San Diego.

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