How to Tell Your Boss You’re Leaving: An Example Script

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Laura Simms

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You’re ready to quit your job. Congratulations! If you’re feeling unsure about how to tell your boss you’re leaving, I’ve got an example script that can prepare you for that conversation. 

Plan A

Plan B

Even if coordinating your pocket square to your backup singers is not your style, you’ll still want to rehearse what you want to say to your boss on Quittin’ Day.

The biggest fear most purpose-driven people have when it comes to quitting is coming off like a flake. Even if they’ve been mistreated, underpaid, and underappreciated, they still want to do things the right way and not leave anybody in the lurch.

The good news is you can quit your job with integrity. Quitting and flaking are not the same.

First things first: do you have a written agreement with your employer? Haul that out and read the fine print. Most contracts include details about what happens if you breach the contract. Others stipulate how much notice you have to give, with 2 weeks being pretty standard. If possible, follow the guidelines laid out in any written documents you’ve signed. You can always check in with HR if you have questions. If this is an emergency exit, be aware of any potential consequences from bailing early.

Once you’re clear on the legal aspects of leaving, write your resignation letter and then it’s time to prepare for The Conversation. 

Why You Need to Practice Telling Your Boss That You’re Leaving

You’ll be nervous.

Even if this has been a long time coming and you’ve fantasized about this conversation a hundred times and you know it’s the right thing to do, you’ll still probably get a nice adrenaline rush as you walk towards your boss’ office (or log into your Zoom account). Your heart rate will go up, you’ll be sweatin’ through that silk blouse, you might even get a case of the shaky hands.

With your body feeling off-kilter, there’s a good chance you’ll ramble, get apologetic, open yourself to being talked into staying, or leave feeling like you could have handled yourself better. 

This is why you practice.

How to Calm Your Nerves Before You Tell Your Boss You’re Leaving

Having a script of what to say and rehearsing it will help, but you may still feel nervous. Intentional breathing can help settle you, but my absolute favorite trick for dealing with nerves is one I learned from an acting professor:

Go into a bathroom stall, close the door to your office, or find somewhere else you can be in private. At the same time, hold your breath and tense up every muscle that you can. Hold for as long as you can without passing out. Ha! It’s longer than you think. Repeat several times and you’ll find that you’ve burned off a lot of those nerves and feel much more calm. 

Once you’re feeling more settled, it’s time to Say The Thing. 

The 5 Step Outline of What to Say When You Quit Your Job

Here’s the breakdown of what you’re going to say:

1. Start with the weird

So, um, awkward. You don’t have to pretend that you don’t have feelings about this. If you’re afraid that your boss is going to think bad things about you, that’s a perfect icebreaker. It’s kind of a neat psychological trick that makes people more open and less defensive because you’re being a little vulnerable. Mwah ha ha.

2. Explicitly state that you’re leaving

Plain and simple, say the actual part about quitting. 

3. Give a reason

Why are you leaving? This doesn’t have to be the whole truth if you’re not comfortable going there. Even a vague version of the truth will do.

4. Offer to help (optional)

If you want to, you can offer to help find or train your replacement.

5. End with gratitude

Because it’s the classy thing to do, and you’ll feel better if you do it. You are leaving this place, but you can leave with your integrity intact and feel proud of how you handled your departure.

Example Script of How to Tell Your Boss You’re Leaving

Tailor the outline above to create a custom script for your situation. Here’s one example: 

1. Start with the weird

Hi, Marion. I’ve actually been putting off talking with you because I know the Waters Project is in a critical phase right now, but this is something that can’t wait any longer. 

2. Explicitly state that you’re leaving

I’ve decided to move on from Paige Creative, and my last day will be December 14th. 

3. Give a reason

I’ll be making a career transition into a role that better uses my strengths and aligns with the kind of contribution I want to make. 

4. Offer to help (optional)

I know this is an inconvenient time for the company, but I’d be glad to help train a replacement or create documentation about the processes I’ve been using, if that’s helpful. 

5. End with gratitude

I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had here, and how you’ve trusted me to take the reins on larger client projects. Thank you for training me, trusting me, and being an important part of my professional growth. 

Hand over your resignation letter and take a big sigh of relief. You did it!

Ready to Quit But Don’t Know What’s Next?

You may be emotionally ready to quit your job, but not strategically ready. Not sure what’s next? Learn how I help my clients discover the right meaningful career for them and make a safe, practical career transition with my free training.

Laura Simms is an expert in meaningful work who challenges conventional wisdom by asking people to ditch their passions and start with purpose.

If you have too many passions, zero passions, or can't seem to combine your passions, try her purpose-first approach to find a career you love.  


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