The responder can’t blame his response exclusively on the initiator’s tone. Too often, the person on the receiving end of the departure accepts the emotional tone set by the initiator and thoughtlessly follows through. An angry initiation is followed with a counterattack. An indifferent layoff is followed by a listless transition. An excited departure announcement is followed by a resentful spurning.
Although you can’t control your emotional response to such an important event, you can govern your behavior. When adults tell me that they yelled at their boss because their boss yelled at them, they sound like impulsive third-graders blaming others for their outbursts.
Although the initiator sets the tone, you are responsible for how you behave in reaction. It’s a choice.
Fairness matters. Regardless of the reasons for the split, both parties want to feel fairly treated. (Of course, there will be times when no one agrees on what fair treatment may be.) Employers who lose employees want to feel that they are not being left in the lurch, that they have gotten reasonable notice given the importance of the person’s position, that they can reasonably transition to others. Employees who are terminated want to feel that their past contributions have been valued and that they are receiving fair compensation for their loyalty in the form of severance and support.
In the end, how people comport themselves in these difficult situations shows more than they know about who they are and what they value. Also, people not involved in the situation notice, may decide that they don’t like what they see, and decide that it’s time for them to move on too.
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