The Right Expression!

The Right Expression!

800 371 Kamal Karanth

One of my colleagues called me soon after her resignation was made public throughout the organization.

“Kamal,” she said, “I heard you were unhappy over with my decision to leave the company.

“Wouldn’t it be odd if I were to say that I was happy you were leaving?” I asked. Not surprisingly, she laughed out loud!

“Yes! That would have been nasty!” she agreed.

While it is common knowledge that tactful communication and thoughtfulness at the workplace is influential towards preserving relationships and building credibility, can we draw clear demarcation of what are the right, wrong and neutral expressions to make when any of our colleagues choose to leave the organization?

Below are a list of some of the most commonly used phrases by senior colleagues/management to the rest of the organization when co-workers or subordinates resign. Are these said to mean without being mean? 🙂

said to mean

  • She received a better offer and I’m happy for her.
  • She could not get along with her boss. I empathize with her.
  • I’m glad she’s making the move.
  • She found her calling.
  • I’m annoyed that she is leaving.

Could it also be?

  • She was grossly underpaid here. I’m happy someone else saw her worth as our bosses disagreed to give her a raise!
  • Sigh…we know we have a bad superior but we continue to put up with it!
  • Good riddance to bad rubbish!
  • We promoted her a little less than a year ago. How ungrateful of her!
  • What kind of company are we running if our employees failed to connect to the cause of what drives our colleagues?

So, do you have an affinity for “politically correct” expressions in such a circumstance? You’re not the only one, if you’ve answered “yes” to that. Chances are, we’ve all engaged in “expressions with euphemisms and corporate-speak” when a superior, co-worker or subordinate leaves the organization. The question is, can “politically correct” expressions be the right ones to make as real ones might hurt feelings?

I think, different types of expressions (real or otherwise) take on different meanings with different people who are known to have different motivational hot points. In addition, the audience who is the benefactor of the expressions have their own filtering that zero in on certain expressions points while ignoring some others. Does it come as a surprise if I were to say that there is no such thing as a perfect expression when it comes to managing resignations at the workplace?

Here are a few resignation-related expressions I have made over the last few years which may have meant something else based on individual hot points:

said to mean

  • He disagreed with our new strategy.
  • She wants to go back and work with her ex-boss.
  • He’s leaving the industry.
  • Frankly, I’m not sure why she’s leaving.
  • He’s leaving India as his wife refuses to stay here.
  • I need some “implants” with the competition.
  • I can’t offer him the growth he is seeking.
  • She had a good stint with us

Could it also be?

  • Its best he leaves.
  • Our industry sucks.
  • Truth be told, I’m cheesed off with her and I can’t tell you why!
  • Frankly, if he can’t manage his wife’s expectations, I don’t know how he’s going to manage my business.
  • I can’t wait for him to realize how much better we are than our competitors.
  • I can’t offer any of you the growth you are seeking.
  • She has worked with longer than she should have.

In my view there isn’t such a thing as “the right expression” to make on the heels of a departing superior, co-worker or subordinate or at least I have not mastered it. Even at the height of my diplomacy, you’re most likely to hear me choosing the real expression over its counterfeit.

So what’s your take on how real your leaders are when they talk about departing colleagues? I am sure irrespective of how real they are you’ll have enough gossip on your lunch plate to last the week!!

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