The publicity surrounding the dramatic exit of Jet Blue flight attendant, Steven Slater, raises questions about the best way to quit a job. It's reported that Slater cursed an unruly passenger, grabbed some beer, deployed and slid down the emergency slide. Shortly after this incident, a Facebook page was created in his honor and he was hailed a modern day flight attendant hero. While we have all thought about saying, "take this job and shove it," few of us act on it. So does that make Slater a hero?
Emotions can spill over at perceived or real mistreatment in the workplace. And we know there are a lot of poor leaders in positions of authority. But it is rarely appropriate to break into a verbal rage at your boss or customers. Bosses can be demanding. Customers can be rude. Colleague's may irritate you. It's enough to make anyone angry. The rage often stems from the lack of effective communication. Most people do not know how to engage in healthy disagreement, negotiate a deadline, listen with empathy or just move on. If you do not share the work ethic, values, rules or pace of your workplace it is truly best to leave. You'll know if you should leave after 3-6 months. Sometimes sooner. Create an exit strategy that allows you to consider your finances, family and other responsibilities. It may not be easy to decide to leave, but your mental health is more important.
Even in this tough economy and job market, you must consider moving on if things are really that bad in your workplace. Rather than exploding at the boss or customers, be sure to ask your self what is it you are looking for in a workplace or boss? Does it really exist? Are you flexible or offended when asked to do your job more efficiently or in a different way? Are you secretly harboring insecurities or prejudices against your boss or co-workers? Do you have healthy stress relievers outside of work (exercise, volunteering, church, etc.)? Do you have a good personal support system? Does your support system always agree with you or challenge you to see both sides of a situation? Before leaving your job, honestly ask yourself these questions.
If you decide to leave your job what do you really gain by telling people off? When you leave by sticking it to the man (or woman) the baggage can follow you for the rest of your life. Despite momentary satisfaction and fame, Slater still faces criminal charges and its reported that he could have injured ground crews and others during his dramatic departure. It's been estimated that the slide deployment cost the airline $25,000. Many people have worked for and with difficult people. There's an abundance of unhealthy rage and resentment toward jobs, bosses and customers. The truth is there is no perfect boss or workplace. You should never accept insults, public humiliation or harassment by a boss, colleague or customer. Absent a genuinely abusive situation, we need to assess our work environment expectations and maintain a healthy, full life outside of work. If you choose to stay, it means learning to respect personality quirks, communication styles and other differences. It means trying to anticipate more and whining less. It means knowing the difference between a valid complaint and when you are simply being immature and selfish. Most of all, it means moving on if you don't see a way to remain emotionally and physcially healthy in that environment.
The Steven Slater story saddens me as I think about how many people support and encourage him because they are walking around with similar workplace anger and rage. Check out this tribute to quitting. Interesting, truthful and funny, but no matter what, do you prefer coach or first-class? I choose first-class. Always quit your job with grace, dignity and clear communication. Share your comments with me...