Quitting Your Clients or Your Job: How to Do It With Grace

What happened in your workday today? Raise your hand if you:

  • Explained something you’ve attempted to explain numerous times before to a department that you need to do your job effectively.
  • Sent another request to a partner asking them to qualify the results of an initiative you’re in charge of?
  • Spent all your mental energy saving a situation, putting out another fire and/or navigated someone’s self-interests and lack of understanding once again in order to be effective in the work you’ve been hired to do?

As provider or employee, you’re expected to work cross collaboratively with multiple people, partners, and stakeholders as a baseline requirement of our jobs today. In doing this, you’ve most likely experienced situations where working with others has become challenging for any number of reasons:

  • Other partners/agencies have different working styles that don’t align with yours.
  • People within the company have different levels of abilities and levels of understanding that make execution or programs challenging.
  • People don’t possess the skill sets required to do the jobs they’ve been tasked with and your job becomes even more challenging to accomplish.
  • Or (let’s be honest) people are more caught up in their own self-interests and have no desire to work as part of a team to accomplish something because it doesn’t serve their plans.

Today, right now, are you thinking about leaving a client and/or quitting your job?

Leaving a client or quitting your job because of communication barriers, unreasonable requests, lack of value in your work has been written about a lot. Most of these articles provide strategic advice on how to “fire” and/or extricate yourself from bad working situations. If you’ve read any of these articles, the best advisors encourage you to find constructive ways to turn the not so wonderful working dynamics into something better and/or stick them out for long periods of time before you decide “leave” them.

But here’s what they don’t say –– SOMETIMES IT ISN’T THAT EASY. Business relationships can be as messy as personal relationships because of dynamics involved. Yep, insert whatever separation horror story you’ve heard here.

When you get down it and do the research, there’s very little writing about “How to Work with a Client Who’s Ego is Larger than Opening Weekend at the Box Office” or “How to Deal with the Colleague that Acts Worse Than Your Ex.” In personal relationships, if we really want to commit to them, we attempt to:

  • Talk to the party involved,
  • Build more effective ways to communicate,
  • Take time to listen to other parties in order to better understand them,
  • And attempt to make changes that both people involved need in order to make it work.

Sometimes this approach works if we’re really committed to the relationship. In business, it only works if you know how to talk to the client or your boss in a way that allows you get them open up and share their POV on what’s working or not. And it’s at this point where you’ll have to assess if you can continue to do the work you’ve been hired to do.

If your client/boss doesn’t see that there’s a problem, and you see that your world is going to continue to play out like an episode of “The Real Housewives,”  and that makes it detrimental to stay involved with them.  This can kill your future growth, credibility, and success –– and that means it’s time to leave.

Doing the same thing over and over and getting the same result is this the definition of what?

Once you’ve decided to go, do so with grace, patience and tact. You’ll need to create a short and speedy exit plan; make that your responsibilities are well documented (or at least a well organized Dropbox folder). Don’t just cut ties and run because the bridges you burn may light your way now –- but they won’t be there if you need to go back. But you also don’t need to stay involved for a prolonged period of time either.