Like any relationship there is a beginning, middle and an end. Each part holds a special memory for you whether it was a good relationship or not. Your reaction to and your unique situation tells you a lot about your coping skills and how emotionally invested you are in the relationship. This holds true whether we are talking about a relationship with your spouse, child, sibling, co-worker or boss. You are as much a part of the equation as the next person and your ability to handle the complexities of your work relationship has everything to do with your ability to move on and move up in your career.
In a recent post by Esther Perel, “Relationship Redefined” she talks about the four areas she defines as “relationship accountability” that can easily apply to the relationship you have with your job. I’ve taken the liberty of applying those principles here. No matter what stage you are in your career relationship, you might be able to relate to some if not all of the stages when you know it’s time to move on:
- Ghosting: When you are at the point in your job relationship that you no longer want or need to share information with anyone and you are in a funk or worse yet, you have no desire to even show up for work under any circumstances. Your reaction to your boss or your co-worker may be so extreme they can hear, “crickets” when dealing with you and you are in no position to confront or react to the frustration or pain your job relationships have caused you. You basically shut down and are operating on autopilot.
- Icing: You can’t show up for meetings, you don’t want to participate in after work social activities, you are avoiding one on one time with your boss or your co-worker just to prove a point and hoping someone will read between the lines. You may have built up so much anxiety over your work relationship the best thing for you to do is to make yourself so “busy” with other duties as to not have to deal with the situation or people that are now causing you job stress. You start to build up resentment towards your boss and co-workers because you don’t have the courage to end it. EVERYTHING at work bothers you from the old coffee filters to the new plants in the conference room.
- Simmering: You may have been suffering through a bad work relationship for quite sometime but you see no other options and are afraid to end it without another job lined up. You begin to distance yourself from your co-workers and your boss and make excuses for your work and your inability to communicate and be “part of the team”. You don’t like what you are dealing with but you don’t have enough courage to make a clean break. Your fear is keeping you from hating where you are in your job and afraid to make a move for fear you may repeat the same mistakes over again. You are experience inertia.
- Power Parting: You’ve come to the end of the road in your relationship with your job and you know it. You see no way out but to leave. You may have tried any and all of the previous steps in an effort to re-engage with your boss or co-worker to no avail. You are clear that leaving your job is the only step to your future success and you tender your resignation happily. No regrets, no excuses you tried your best and you are clear that you are making the right decision for you. You trust your decision and you don’t look back.
You may have experienced the slow and steady decline of a work relationship but knowing which stage you are in may help you navigate how quickly you can either resolve or quit your current role without feeling like you will hurt the one you love. Remember not every work relationship is meant to last forever but knowing when it’s time to move on is the first step to building a healthy career.
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