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STICKY SITUATION: About a month ago, I had a disagreement with my boss
of three years, and I impulsively walked out and quit the job I loved.
I cleared out my desk and split without even giving two weeks' notice.
I also left behind a huge project I was in charge of midway through. I
have not spoken to my boss since I left. I really blew it, since I'd
had excellent reviews for three straight years. I just saw my old job
advertised in the paper. Should I try to mend fences and apply for my
old position? I haven't had any luck landing a new job.
WHAT THE EXPERT SAYS: Ah, would've, should've, could've. Sometimes
we are our own worst enemies, as you were when you abruptly quit your
job. You broke a few rules by walking out the door. First, you gave in
to your emotions and did not look at the big picture. Second, you left
your boss in the lurch, appearing to be not only hotheaded, but also
irresponsible, and hurting his opinion of you. And third, you let the
situation fester by never calling your boss to straighten things out.
This has led you to rehash the situation to a point where you have lost
perspective and now think that your old boss would even look at your CV
without tearing it up and tossing it into the trash.
But you must talk to your boss -- not to approach him for your old
job, but to straighten out this mess so it does not impact your ability
to land a new position elsewhere. Best, ask him out to lunch. Since you
knew each other for three years, he may be amenable to that idea. If he
declines your offer, take care of this over the phone.
Write out your speech ahead of time. Apologise for walking out on
him in the middle of the big project, and admit that you overreacted
and now regret your actions. If your old boss tells you how awful you
were, don't argue with him. Just listen and repeat that you are sorry
you left him in a lurch. Say it was all a big misunderstanding.
Next, tell him you would like to use him as a reference. Refresh
his memory about the many successes you had at the company, and appeal
to his sense of humanity as someone you worked well with for three
You'll get a sense during the conversation of whether or not you'll
be able to use your old boss as a reference. If you can't use him, call
another manager in the company who you've worked with over the past
three years, and ask him to be your reference.
And the next time you're tempted to walk out, make a trip to the
corner Starbucks to cool off. Then return to work within 15 minutes and
say you just needed a break.
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