Graceful Exits (How to Walk Away)


One of my favorite pieces. I wrote this one a year ago, and it has become timely for me once again. I needed the reminder today. This must be something that we all struggle with, because this is one of my posts that is found most often via Internet searches.

There are times when we need to walk away.  Different situations and relationships reach their inevitable conclusion, and we must determine the best way to extricate ourselves.  We need to keep in mind that how we choose to exit impacts both us and those we leave behind.

Make a graceful exit from the workplace.  Most of us will switch jobs at least once in our lifetime.  You may receive a better offer, you may find you can no longer tolerate the environment, or you may be seeking to find career alternatives.  No matter the reason, I advise you to proceed with caution in how you exit.  (Yes, this is the voice of experience speaking.)

Upon handing in your resignation, thank your employer for the opportunities the company provided you with.  Even if you feel you are leaving a toxic environment, resist the urge to point out all of the things you think are wrong with the company.  Once you are gone do not speak ill of your former employer.  It serves no purpose other than to breed animosity and to provide fuel for gossip.

Chances are you will continue working in the same field.  Remember that thanks to social media and networking sites the people in your profession are likely linked by common relationships.  You do not want to say anything negative that can make its way to a prospective or new employer as it will not cast you in a favorable light.  Additionally, you may find that a former employer can help you in the future.  If you leave a job to pursue new opportunities it makes sense to keep your prior boss as an ally.

How to exit counterproductive interactions gracefully.  We all know that social media sites are teeming with vicious people seeking to incite and escalate arguments online.  I have learned that it is best to avoid these leeches and the pages they visit altogether.  However, we can be drawn into conversations or debates with friends or online acquaintances, and this can lead us to areas that exceed our comfort level.  There are times when you need to withdraw yourself from a situation without leaving bad feelings behind.

As most people do, I have strong opinions on a variety of topics to include politics, abortion, religion, and law enforcement.  I prefer to limit sharing my thoughts on “hot button” issues to my closest friends and family.  However, there are times when I find myself engaged with others on these subjects.  When this happens I am open to a dialogue taking place as long as it is conducted in a polite manner by all parties.

At times a conversation reaches a point where it seems futile, or it becomes too emotionally difficult, to continue.  When I am ready to close out a topic in an inoffensive way, I find it works best to thank the other party for participating in a respectful manner and for providing me with a new perspective to consider.  More often than not I receive a similar response, and I am open to having future interactions with these people.  There will be those who will try to prolong the discussion by ignoring your hint.  In those situations it is best to simply shut it down and walk away.  You do not need to have the last word.  Sometimes saying nothing is the most effective way to make your point.

You can make a graceful exit from an unhealthy relationship.  Not all connections are meant to last a lifetime.  Some run their course naturally with both parties drifting off in different directions.  At times we hang on in situations that are clearly not benefiting us, and in some cases may be harming us emotionally.  When we feel that we have given far more than we have taken from a relationship it can cause stress, sadness, and resentment.  We need to give ourselves permission to step away, be it from a friend or even a family member.

You can choose to end a friendship without drama.  You are allowed to distance yourself from a relative.  You do not have to make a scene or create animosity.  If a relationship causes you more pain than happiness it is time to reevaluate its worth.  If your attempts to revive it are unsuccessful you may need to consider the reasons.

The hard fact is that the person on the other end of the relationship may have already moved on.  They may have priorities that do not include you.  As painful as this realization is, do not cause yourself further damage by lashing out with hurt feelings.  Odds are it will not end well, and it will close a door that cannot be reopened.  If you need closure consider writing the person a letter or requesting a meeting.  Be honest without being confrontational.  If you do not receive a positive response it is in your best interest to move on, but do so in a way that allows for future reconciliation.

Knowing when to walk away is not easy.  When the time comes, though, you can put your best foot forward.  Just as you want to make a good first impression, so should you aim to make a good last impression.  Graceful exits leave us free to make grand new entrances.

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50 thoughts on “Graceful Exits (How to Walk Away)

  1. Well said! I agree with you on the employment exit strategy 110%. You never know when you’ll run into your coworkers in the future, especially if you stay in the same field. Six-degrees-of-separation is a very real thing, and in the work world, it’s more like 2 degrees.


    • Two degrees is much more realistic! I’ve left jobs both the right way and the wrong way, and I would never pick the wrong way again! No matter how intolerable a work situation is I recommend saving that discussion for your close friends and family only! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Not easy for sure. I’m struggling with the last one myself right now and it’s so hard! I appreciate this post. It’s nice to have support even when it isn’t directly solely at my own situations! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great set of thoughts on graceful exits. I think to many people tend to burn bridges. One never knows when circumstance might bring them back around and they need to cross a bridge again. Thanks for sharing.


  4. That is a great post Karen. You are so right about ‘walking away from something gracefully.’ It is sometimes to have to rein in negative thoughts and emotions when leaving certain situations, but always better in the long run. At least you have left with dignity and have some dignity left!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, recognizing the correct timing is certainly beneficial. I would not dismiss good advice, though, especially if it is a product of lessons learned by staying too long the first time around.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


  5. Thanks for writing that. This is valuable advice.
    You touched many important points. Like that we have to give ourselves permission to not like a situation and leave it. That is important. In the spiritual teachings, there is so much talk about acceptance that one could get the idea that we have to just accept any situation without doing anything about it. But this is not true. We have to accept what the gut level knowing tells us to do.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree that acceptance can only go so far, and then we must have a walk away point. We have discussed this in the past, and I believe in trusting your gut instincts above all else. Thank you for reading and sharing your insights! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Although I enjoy my job, I have often had dreams I won the lottery which would allow me to exit my job in the wrong way. You know, just to see what it feels like. Just once. Knowing me though, I would wait until the check clears, then give a generous notice.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I couldn’t agree with you more, Karen. I worked in HR for a lot of years and I was always surprised at the way people spoke and acted as they were walking out the door. As if this was going to be the last job they ever had and their actions and reputation would not cach up with them at some point down the road. The business world is very small. As for realtionships, just be classy and do the right thing, regardless of ego and emotions.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Oh boy, I’ll bet you heard all kinds of things in HR! You are right, emotions need to be left out of it, though that made at times be easier said than done. I have been given the opportunity to return to former employers based on the work I did for them and the way I left.


  9. Your post is so powerful… Your words ring true in all the areas you mentioned… Thanks for reminding me of the importance of graceful exits….
    Have an amazing weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Graceful exits are important. The worst is when you’re trying to make a graceful exit and the other person gets offended anyway. A few summers ago I quit a nannying job that I just COULD NOT handle, and as the mom was writing me the check for the week, I said, “Look, I don’t think that I can handle this job much longer. It’s too much for me. I’d be completely willing to stay on for two more weeks while you find a replacement, but I definitely can’t keep it up all summer.” She handed me the check and said, “Don’t bother.” So I thanked her for the opportunity and left. And it was uncomfortable. But I was also highly relieved because the position was causing me way too much stress.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You offered to give notice and thanked her for the opportunity. I don’t see where you could’ve done much more. We cannot control how others react, only how we do, so in walking away without feeling the need to expound about why you were leaving you took the high ground.

      I had a job at a pizza place in high school, and the owner used to chase all of the girls around trying to swat at us with a pizza spatula. Why must our earliest experiences by awful? To make sure we know what we are NOT suited for? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Ah,very wise words. I have stepped back quietly, many times in many different situations. BUT there have been a few instances (as I grew older and much less tolerant of stupidity and casual cruelties) when the exit has reverberated forever. And I have to say, In those very few instances, I would deliver my message the same way. “But I was so much older than, I’m younger than that now.” Clare


  12. Reblogged this on Fill Your Own Glass and commented:

    In honor of my blog’s upcoming one year anniversary later this month I thought that I would share some of my most viewed posts from the past year, along with some of my personal favorites. This post is my ninth most viewed post, and it is one that I read on days like today when I need a reminder that I am doing the right thing in disengaging from an unhealthy, one-sided relationship. Thank you all for each and every visit you have made here!


  13. Good post.
    When my first husband and I split up, I was very bitter and disillusioned with the whole marriage thing. But in hindsight, we were foolish to get married in the first place, he asking me out on a dare, and me in love with the idea of a ‘big’ wedding.
    Fast forward to another relationship which turned sour, and after 8 years I finally accepted why he wanted me around, and it wasn’t love. I never spoke ill of him to his children or family, though no doubt my name was not very complimentary from the day I left.
    Now I’m happily married again, but had not those previous relationships contributed to my learning curve in Life, I don’t think I would appreciate what we have as much as I do.


  14. I remember when you touched on the that subject Karen, and yeah I need to hear this remember as well. All about the right way and the wrong way of doing things!

    Thank you for sharing! 🙂


  15. Glad you shared it again. It’s a fantastic post with good advice. You are right. It’s important to be graceful. And once we have enough distance to it, we can look back and be really proud of ourselves.


  16. Pingback: My Picks Of The Week #31 | A Momma's View

    • I think it’s natural to need a break every so often. I would assume even more for someone like you with a large following that requires a ton of interaction. We all
      need to disengage once in a while. 🙂


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