Rage-Quitting: Why Are We So Quick to Quit?

There probably aren’t too many people out there who haven’t dreamed of telling off their boss once and for all. I mean really letting them have it—desks swept clean, chair overturned, shouted denunciations, the whole bit.

Remember in “Office Space” when Milton burns the office down because management kept moving his desk and taking his stapler? That’s the sort of thing I’m talking about. It’s called “rage-quitting.”

Rage-quitting is a concept that emerged from video game culture. When a player who isn’t doing well gets angry and throws down his controller, it’s known as a “rage-quit.”

On the surface, rage-quitting has the appeal that comes with getting the last word, and in the heat of the moment, that release seems like the greatest thing in the world. The reality, however, is that the momentary satisfaction of rage-quitting can have negative consequences further down the road.

How Unleashing Your Beast Can Come Back to Bite You

When it comes to quitting, there are a number of reasons why you should avoid using an overly dramatic exit strategy.

  • You lose a potential reference. Once you make a scene in front of an employer, you burn a bridge with a person who can vouch for your skills.
  • You might have difficulty finding another job. Depending on how you rage-quit, if word gets around,it could hurt your chances of getting hired somewhere else.
  • A rage-quit is difficult to explain to future employers. In your next job interview, you’ll likely have to explain why you left your previous job, and the person doing the hiring might call your former boss to cross-check your story. Or you might have to leave your old job off your résumé entirely, forcing you to explain why there’s a gap in your work history.
  • You might lose compensation. If you come to terms with your employer, you might be able to work until a time that suits you both and earn potential compensation beyond your last paycheck.

Here’s a great example of a rage-quitter who didn’t consider her actions. Is it funny? Sure. But moving forward, how will her video venting serve her? She definitely gave up any chance of getting a reference, and the video could make it difficult for her to get another position in her field.

4 Questions to Consider Before Quitting

Before doing something that you can’t take back, there are a number of things you need to think about.

Why are you quitting?
You might feel like you have definite reasons, but if you give it some thought, it might provide a new perspective and shed some light on deeper personal issues that may have little or nothing to do with your employer.

What have you done to end up in this situation?
It’s easy to blame everyone else, but is there something you could have done to improve your working conditions?

Are there alternatives?
Can you speak with your boss and find a solution that would keep you employed?

How easy will it be to find a new job?
It’s a competitive market out there. Consider other job opportunities before calling it quits.

Doing It Right: How to Quit the Smart Way
If you ask yourself the above questions and quitting still seems like the best solution, then it’s important to go about it in the right way. Here are a few things to get sorted out before you hand in your notice:

  • Your Financial Situation
    Your sabbatical may last longer than you think, so be prepared. Remember that quitting a job often voids your eligibility for unemployment benefits.
  • Your Exit Strategy
    If you can work out a mutually beneficial exit strategy with your employer, you position yourself to get a positive reference and financial compensation. This might mean staying on until you finish a project or train your replacement.
  • A Game Plan
    What’s your next move? Don’t rush into quitting without having next steps in place.
  • Your Employment Contract
    Check to see whether there are any conditions or clauses that may affect your resignation.

When the big moment comes, there are several things you can do to make the transition as smooth as possible.

1. Use up your paid vacation.
If you have two weeks of paid vacation saved up, consider using that time to polish your résumé or interview for your next position.

2. Give advance notice.
The more time you and your employer have to prepare for your departure, the better.

3. Be the bigger person.
Don’t tell anyone you work with that you’re planning to quit before telling your boss. He won’t appreciate hearing secondhand from office gossip. And even if you think you were treated badly, remember that burning bridges never helps anyone.

4. Be clear and concise.
Explain why you’re quitting without going overboard. For example, try saying something like,“The schedule is too demanding” rather than “Only a slavedriver asks people to work 10-hour days.”

The next time you dream about your dramatic exit, consider this: When all is said and done, rage-quitting might help you blow off some steam for a moment, but it does nothing to help you in the long run. Don’t handle your career the same way an exasperated gamer handles “Call of Duty.” If you’re going to quit, do it strategically and respectfully, and leave with your dignity intact.

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