"A person is remembered for his entrances and exits", according to William Shakespeare.
So imagine a co-worker who trashes his cubicle, plants practical jokes (or worse) on his computer and slinks off with his Blackberry on the last day of work. Is this a person you'd recommend to a prospective employer? Or expect your company to rehire? Or want to work with again? Decidedly not and you would remember that exit.
Bad behavior degrades the employment experience for all of us.
When faced with leaving a job, it is best to exercise decorum, whether the move is voluntary or forced. To make the best of an awkward situation, here are some tips to remember:
1. Keep your mouth shut. Leaving a job (as in ending a personal relationship) is strictly a private matter and waving your dirty laundry serves no purpose.
2. Stay cool. Even in the context of a private exit interview, there is nothing to gain from scorching the earth.
3. Keep your distance. Soliciting support (or fomenting dissent) from your co-workers might create an impression of conspiracy or coup d'etat -- and unwittingly implicate innocent people.
4. Burn bridges at your own peril. No matter how large the city, legal circles are small and have long memories. The employer you left yesterday may need your services or send a referral tomorrow. If you don't have anything nice to say -- don't say it.
It's easy to be gracious when everything is rosy, but it takes an extra dose of character to act like a grown up when the going gets tough. If you are ever caught in a sudden employment shift, try to maintain your composure and consider the consequences of your actions.
Workplace trends come and go, but Shakespeare's advice stands the test of time -- good manners are forever.