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How To Break Up With Your Toxic Boss In 2022

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

by Adunola Adeshola (Forbes)

We’ve all heard that people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses. But, as much as you might daydream about quitting your job, breaking up with a toxic boss is sometimes easier said than done. Some days you leave the office thinking to yourself, “Today wasn’t so bad.” Then, other days, you’re applying for jobs faster than you can blink.

However, if you want to leave your current company and break up with your toxic boss effectively and professionally, then it requires a bit more strategy than panic-applying on your worst days. Here are a few expert tips to help you successfully break up with your toxic boss in 2022:

Determine your destination

As a career coach, I always tell my clients, “You don’t want to run from something. You want to run towards something.” Here’s why: if your only focus is getting away from your toxic boss as soon as possible, then you’ll end up jumping into something you’ll likely want to run away from soon too. So, instead, you need to determine the right next step for your career before you start looking for a new position.

For example, now that you’ve decided that you need a change, what else are you looking for in your next position? What other qualities would you like your next company, team, or boss to possess that will help you thrive in your new role? Determining the right next step for you and your career will increase your chances of not just breaking up with your toxic boss but also landing a better opportunity you’ll enjoy.

Set a deadline

One of the reasons employees stay stuck in toxic work situations is because they believe things will get better. Sometimes things do. But often, you end up trapped on an emotional rollercoaster full of good days and terrible days. Next thing you know, another year has passed, and nothing has changed. So, while daydreaming about quitting might help you get through those bad days, setting a deadline to quit will help you stay accountable to your goals regardless. Set a manageable timeline that works for you, and hold yourself to it. Then, work towards it by treating your job search as seriously as you treat your real job.

Choose your story

Another reason unhappy employees stay stuck in toxic situations with bosses that make them question their work and worth is that they think their current job is the best that they can do. They might say things like, “There aren’t any better jobs out there.” Or, “If I leave, I have to be willing to take a pay cut, and I can’t afford to do that.” So, even though they may hate their toxic work environment and may wish they could get a new job, they don’t put their all into landing a new position.

But, to successfully break up with your toxic boss, you have to change your story. What if you believed that you could land an even better job at a great company, where you can grow and get paid well to do work that you enjoy? This shift can open you up to new possibilities and increase your motivation to show up as a top candidate for opportunities that will make leaving your company even more worthwhile.

Cultivate your happiness

Unfortunately, new job offers don’t magically pop up in your inbox overnight, so while you’re putting in the work to land a new job, you also need to work to maintain your sanity in the office. One way to do that is to find your support system at work. Limit the energy you spend trying to appease your boss and look around your organization for new allies. Set up lunch meetings or virtual coffee chats with other colleagues and senior leaders. If you have the bandwidth, be resourceful and help other teams and managers tackle problems so that you can start interacting with other people at work more often.

Secondly, while you search for a new job, get intentional about doing things you enjoy outside of work too, whether that’s joining a new gym, regularly going to dinner with friends, or starting a new hobby. Doing so will remind you that you are in control of your happiness, not your boss, which will help you navigate work with less stress while you secretly job hunt for something better.

Quit with class

Finally, once you land a new job, your goal should be to quit without burning bridges. When resigning, keep the details minimal and focus on the positive. Thank your boss for the opportunity to grow and develop in your position. Then, give your two weeks’ notice and let your manager know the specific date you will be leaving. Share how you plan to tie up loose ends and transition your responsibilities and, lastly, prepare for the good and bad. Gather your belongings and essentials before you give notice in case you're asked to leave immediately, and prepare your responses in case your boss tries to convince you to stay. All in all, do your best to break up with your toxic boss with grace and class.

Breaking up with a toxic boss is not always easy, but following these steps will help you stay focused so that you not only quit your job but also land a new and better job that makes you feel excited about the next chapter of your career.

Adunola Adeshola coaches high-achievers on how to take their careers to the next level and secure the positions they've been chasing.

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