What do you do when there is nothing left in a relationship, when there are no What Elses left?
One of the most striking things I’ve noticed in my life and career is that most people don’t know exactly how to quit a job or leave a relationship without leaving scorched earth behind.
It’s true, severing ties personally or professionally is never easy. Egos are involved, feelings run high; there’s a lot of potential for chaos and confrontation.
Due to these factors – particularly the ego component – we slip into feeling like we have to extract as much as possible from the other party before going our separate ways. As if somehow we can come away “the winner.” As if we can somehow make it a “happy ending” for ourselves.
The thing is, there’s not going to be a happy ending for anyone involved. If any happiness was still left on the table, things probably wouldn’t be ending.
We can’t go into these endings, these breakups, still looking to win. We have to go in to them willing to accept loss.
Fortunately, there’s a way to minimize the loss on both sides, and in doing so, to leave both parties in the best possible position.
Go into these “breakups” with the other person’s needs in mind, rather than your own. Think about what’s in their head. Try to imagine what they must be feeling.
It’s a time to get humble, not to get even.
What can you afford to “lose” – to give up – for the other person’s sake?
Another way to put it: Instead of leaving with as many assets as you can take, how can you unravel the joint assets so that you both leave with as much as possible?
If an employee is leaving you, can you help them find another job? If you’re the employee leaving, can you recommend some replacements?
If you’re breaking up with a romantic partner, can you ask them what they need from you in the coming weeks to heal? If you’re being broken up with, it can be tough not to be bitter, but can you do the same?
When you’re ending a relationship, why make an enemy? That weakens your karma. That might well come back to haunt you later on if you need to count on that person for something.
But if you can part on the best possible terms, you’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll feel afterwards - because you didn’t invest in negative energy. And though you might not have a relationship with that person anymore, at least they’ll remain “in your corner,” should you ever need them again.
And remember - just because something’s ending, doesn’t mean it was a failure. Every experience in life is something to learn from, something that should make you better.