Can We Be “Gracious” During Farewells?

Can We Be “Gracious” During Farewells?

800 371 Kamal Karanth

I am a big fan of Virender Sehwag. But his recent farewell speech got me to reflect on the unsaid part of his speech, yes’ he missed thanking Dhoni, maybe he forgot as he had many people to thank, he was on mike in front of cameras, anxiety maybe? It was difficult to reconcile with any of the arguments as we have heard/read about the frosty relationship between Dhoni and Sehwag.

I still believe these rumors that they don’t like each other (Gossip) 🙂 Sports Icons have once in a lifetime farewells and are likely to be in spotlight for the wrong reasons on their farewell timing or speeches. In workspaces we have more opportunities for farewell speeches; the high rate of job changes we see around tells me that each one of us may have at least 10 farewell opportunities in our career life; which means we can always improvise on our farewell speeches and get better at it with every changing employer.

When I reflect on the few times I bid adieu to my employers, I get mixed feelings about what I chose to say over what I should have said (off course this is in retrospect). My first farewell speech was funny as it was organised by my boss, everybody who had assembled there knew I was leaving Becoz of my boss, it was emotionally difficult one as I did not have a job in hand and I thought I was supposed to say things which were positive, I thanked 6 of them in the room who worked with me; the list wasn’t longer, people were in front of me, so it was easy. In the end out of sheer courtesy, I thanked my boss for all the learnings. Then I did not really mean it and also did not know how to make neutral thanksgivings. See’ I still have not grown up!

When the email world took over farewell speeches, we started documenting our friends and foes in office via the farewell notes, the devil in me would look into it to see who all were thanked and who were omitted. It was quite obvious that in a group email when we take names of few and ignore the obvious, we are making astatement about our preferences. Some of them write very lengthy farewell emails with long list of names to thank and it takes a while to spot who got missed 🙂 Some of them even go on to the extent of saying if I missed out thanking anybody please consider this as my gratitude to you as well. Oh common! That’s just like some of my relatives who do pass through the road I stay and forget to personally invite for a wedding only to tell me later that they got busy in the preparations. Hmm I get it!

  • No PR Please : Marking farewell emails to un-connected people in the organisation makes for great PR, but if you are not thanking them, why write an email, they will anyhow know or get to know that you are leaving, so maybe you can hold the urge to announce your grand departure
  • Personalise: If you worked 20 years in a company (oh god!), where attrition is minimal and you have a large fan following, please don’t spam by writing lengthy emails addressed to hundreds of people in one go. Choose to write individual emails if you really mean to inform or thank them.
  • Rise to the occasion: if you have found your calling and excited about your next job, use that high to be magnanimous, thank everybody who worked with you, avoid any sarcasm towards anybody even if the urge is high to give it back. Even if you are leaving due to push factors than pull factors try not to be negative (I know this one can be emotional and very difficult). In a connected world word spreads and things do circle back.
  • Notepad: If you have to address a crowd in a town hall setting, it’s fine to note down names of people you want to mention and reading out to ensure you don’t miss them out. Farewells can be emotional affairs and we can forget names due to stage fright, people would appreciate your attention to detail than your ability to speak extempore.
  • Show up: if you are in an office set-up, walk around to people whom you know and make an attempt to say bye in person (or is it C U in a small world?)

What about organisations who do not give farewells and are less considerate about departing employees, my take on that is coming soon in another post 🙂

Today my thoughts are on what you and I could do as employees while departing, let’s be gracious, let our employers feel the pain of losing us. I rather not leave with a behavior which justifies our separation.

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