Quitting a Job

Make Your Resignation Letter Polite, Even When You're Not Feeling It.

Make Your Resignation Letter Polite, Even When You're Not Feeling It.
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Years ago, a video of one woman’s creative way of saying "I quit" at work -- by dancing to a Kanye West rap in the office at 4:30 a.m. and making a video of it -- went viral.

Related: How to Resign From Your Company and Keep Great Relationships

"For almost two years I've sacrificed my relationships, time and energy for this job," this American employee at a Taiwanese animation company posted as titles on her video. "I understood that [the video] was a risk," she said later, "but I never named the company or my boss, and, I mean, have you seen my dancing? How can anyone take that seriously?" 

While the viral video succeeded in giving the woman attention, you don’t need to do all that work just to bid your job “goodbye." All you need to do is write a polite resignation letter. 

That task could be difficult enough; but maintaining a polite tone may prove to be more challenging still, depending on the circumstances. 

The first thing to remember is that regardless of those circumstances, you must always remain professional. If you let emotion get the best of you, and allow it to influence the tone of the letter, the end product could become your biggest regret. 

Remember that once you put content in writing and submit or publish it, you can never get it back. You know the saying, “It’s a small world”? Industries often function as a tight circle of competitors and allies. An unprofessionally written and rude resignation letter may come back to haunt you.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by making your own resignation polite. Here are five easy steps for doing that:

1. Keep your emotions in check.

Sometimes we do things on impulse when our actions are fueled by emotion. We may “feel” that we want to resign but, once composed, we “think” more on why we want to resign. 

A decision to resign could be spurred on by a variety of emotions. An incident or series of events could make us frustrated. An offer to work for another company with the promise of better pay is always an exciting moment; or maybe you want to become an entrepreneur and start your own company. The need to find better opportunities elsewhere to support our families may leave us with feelings of anxiety and concern.

Regardless of what you yourself feel, divest yourself of any emotional connectivity or burden before writing your letter. If you're angry or frustrated, talk to your supervisor or closest confidante in the company. If you're anxious or concerned, gather your family members around and allow them to share their opinions. 

Find a way to clear your mind. Take a walk, exercise at the gym, meditate or to talk to a person you can trust. 

Whatever your motivation, don't write that resignation letter with a heavy heart. Always approach one with an open mind. 

Related: After Sexist Comments, Tennis Tournament Chief Raymond Moore Resigns

2. Use paper and pen.

Despite the age of mobile technology, never discount the power of the pen. 

There are studies that show that taking notes on pen and paper helps you retain memory longer than tapping away on a keypad. The reason is, pen and paper create a stronger link between mind and body. Whatever you think tends to be better captured, relayed and manifested directly from your brain to your fingers. 

A computer, in contrast, goes through many filters. From your mind to your fingertips, your idea goes through digital functions before it appears on the screen. If there are latency issues, you might have to deal with lag time.

The same holds true for a resignation letter, except that it includes a third component in the process: the heart. 

Writing a draft of your resignation letter via pen and paper helps filter out more emotion. With pen and paper, you cannot auto-save your file. Your choice is to either discard it in the garbage or use it as your official draft for your Word processor.

So, write and edit as you go and do as many edits as needed to get the tone right. If you’re not sure about tone, set aside the draft and review it another day when you are feeling less overwhelmed. A clearer mind will give you a better perspective for seeing things. 

3. Keep it simple.

The truth is, the resignation letter is one of the easiest letters you can write. Its structure and content are simple. And the letter itself should be simple, containing, for starters, the following on the top left hand side:

  • Date
  • Name of recipient
  • Designation of recipient
  • Your name
  • Your designation
  • Purpose of the letter 

Next comes the salutation. Address the recipient with the appropriate title, such as Mr., Ms., Dr. or Prof. The body should state the purpose of the letter, which is your resignation, plus pertinent information such as assurances that pending work will be completed. Finally, the conclusion should include well wishes for, and good tidings to, the company.

Checking some resignation letter examples is a good way to gain a clearer idea about the most important things you should write.

4. Review the draft as often as possible.

Even when you feel that you’ve written the most professional and polite resignation letter, you should always take the time to review it again.

Read it out loud. A letter is a form of communication that should be conversational to achieve its purpose effectively. Sometimes, hearing the letter phonetically gives you a better means to assess its tone and overall feel.

While the rule is to keep the resignation letter simple, some people feel it is necessary to provide more insights to the circumstances of the resignation. They view it as a final attempt to be heard by management. They believe they are in a situation where there is no turning back and that they have nothing to lose by expressing themselves freely.

Again, remember that your resignation letter could define your tenure with the company and influence your reputation in the industry. The ideal venue for your thoughts and opinions is the exit interview. But, if you feel that you must bring up these points in your resignation letter, do not make them the focal point.

This is all about your resigning under good terms with your employer. The popular saying in business, “Never burn your bridges,” always holds true.

5. Let a third party review your draft.

A good way to finish up your letter is to have a trusted friend review it. The best candidate will be a friend who is not involved with your company in any way.

A third party has no other interest to protect except yours. Ask him or her to give honest comments and opinions. Ask about the letter's "feel."

Explain that you want your resignation letter to be polite. Often, our best and most trusted friends can become very protective. They may add fuel to the fire by instilling their emotions in you. So, take those opinions in stride and see if you should incorporate those changes in your letter. In the end, it should still sound like you.

When it is time to submit your letter, place yourself in a positive frame of mind. It is more professional to bring the resignation letter directly to the recipient or your immediate supervisor. If policy dictates that all employee letters be submitted to Human Resources, still forward it personally. 

Related: What to Do If an Employee Quits in an Epic Fashion

Then, if possible, find the time to talk to your supervisor, manager or the head of the company itself. Even if your career with the company did not turn out the way you expected, you were still accorded the opportunity. That alone should be reason enough to remain professional -- and polite.