The Dating Corollary: Breakup Netiquette

The Dating Corollary: Breakup Netiquette

Originally posted 2015-03-31 11:16:46. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

As mentioned in the introduction (and you read the introduction, right? No? Go read it over here), in the first follow up (and you read that one too, right? No? Go read it over here), and then in the next one about counter-offers over here, we’re going to chat about some of the similarities between the wild world of dating, looking for a job, hiring someone, and just networking in general.

Let’s rip the band-aid off quickly and get right to the nasty.

Break ups.

Break ups suck.

But the way you handle it will have lasting repercussions on you…

In other words…sometimes…no matter how much you may want to go ballistic, it’s better for you in the long run to take the high road.

Let me give you a “for instance” from my own past.

Once upon a time, I got royally screwed over by an employer.  In fact, “royally” doesn’t even begin to describe the particularly vile form of screwing I got from this jerk.  However, thanks to the benefits of a having a friend who’s also a great lawyer, the outright stupidity of said former employer, and the beauty of our legal system…well, he got his screwing, too.

Now, when the court case was done, and everything had reached a conclusion…I still desperately wanted to screw with him some more.  I went out and registered a few domain names specifically targeting him and his actions.  I had PDFs made of every deposition transcript, every document, every filing, every loathesome act this creep admitted to over the course of the entire process.  I had it all ready to publish.  I had it all indexed and searchable.  An awesome layout that highlighted some of the more…oh, let’s call them “choice”…phrases during his deposition in particular that showed what a dbag he truly is.

And then, when I was about 90% of the way done, and sat there thinking “This is good enough to start with and I can build on it from here…” and I was about to flip the switch to make the sucker live…

…I realized…”why?”

Why bother?

Why even deal with the venom any more?

And so, just like there are a few Don’t Be That Guy entries that we’ve left sitting in “draft” mode for eternity…it became enough to know that I wrote it.  It was enough for me to know that I could pull the trigger…but didn’t need to actually do so.

You always see that look on the face of a cop in a crime drama when they finally chase down the bad guy who did something really terrible to one of the cop’s friends or family members…and they have them sitting there staring down the barrel of a gun…and then they after a few, tense moments of deep thought and anxiety crossing their face…they calmly holster their weapon, cuff the suspect, and cart them off to jail.  Because that’s the right thing to do.

Although I wish I could have “accidentally” bounced his head off the roof of a police car like they do in those situations.  You know, just once.  Oh well.

Plus…it’s better this way.

It’s bad enough that I have to be honest and admit that I’ve been involved in a lawsuit against a former employer if the question ever comes up.  It’s bad enough that when someone sees my resume, and they ask me about that job…and my eyes light up and I tell them how much fun I had and all of the great and cool things that I did and how proud I was of the team that I built…

…and then they ask the inevitable question.  “Wow…it sounds like it was really great.  What happened?”

The answer always starts with a [sigh]

Sure, on some level it might be easier if I could just say “Go read this website I built about it…and you’ll know everything.” …but, again…why bother?

Why even give him the satisfaction of knowing that it even came that close to existing?  That he had burned me so deeply that I had so much anger and fire and brimstone built up that I was obsessed with doing anything and everything I could to take him down?

In short…I didn’t want to be That Guy.

I didn’t want to be That Guy that constantly bitches and moans on Facebook about what a horrible slut his ex-girlfriend is.

I didn’t want to be That Guy that whines to anyone and everyone who will listen about how his ex-wife continues to screw him…and not in a good way.

I didn’t want to be That Guy that people start distancing themselves from because they’re tired of having to listen to all the whining and moaning and “oh woe is me life is so unfair” nonsense constantly.

I didn’t want to be That Guy who goes writing terrible things on the Facebook wall of the girl they just broke up with last week.

Even though I didn’t know it at the time, doing so would have violated Wrath of the Seven Deadly Sins of Networking.  Oh sure, I’ll still answer questions if asked.  When people contact me on LinkedIn because they’ve seen a job opening there, I’m honest and tell them what I know.

But because I handled the break up in the best way that I possible could – by taking the high road – nobody can fault me for that.

No. Just…no.

So when you’re sitting there in a fit of rage in your car driving home after being let go, avoid the temptation to tweet “OMG, JUST GOT FIRED, F–K [company name here] AND [manager name here]!”  Don’t go home, fire up Facebook and start ranting and raving about it.  Don’t start posting crap on LinkedIn about how unfair it is or venting all over the place.

I realize that every fiber of your very being is screaming at you be That Guy over there on the right.  To pick up the flamethrower, and start slinging fireballs of pain and fury all over the place at your now former employer in the hopes of burning them to the ground.

Don’t.

Take a breath.  Relax.  Take the high road.

Here – I’ll even give you an easy little set of directions to follow to get there:

Do nothing today.  Nothing digital, at least.  Not a damned thing.  Just…unplug.  I know you’re anxious, and I know you’re full of fear and anxiety…and I also know that all of that will show during any conversations that you have right now.  Call a close friend and go get drunk and let it all out to your heart’s content.  Go to the gym and work out like mad.  Go for a drive and cool off.  Go find an open field, park the car, get out, walk into the middle of it and scream at the top of your lungs until you fall over out of breath.  Whatever it takes…just stay the hell away from technology for the moment.

It’s a new day.  Now we begin.  Let’s make sure we have the basics covered before we even get started on a plan of attack though, cool?  Cool.  Where’s the most recent copy of your resume?  Get it, read it, review it and update it.  Don’t be Bad Resume Guy.  Make sure that’s current, accurate, and ready to be distributed to anyone who asks for it when they ask for it, because the last thing you want to do is make someone wait who’s trying to help you.  Check your LinkedIn profile.  Make the same adjustments and tweaks that you did with your resume, and get that up to par as well.

Networking 101.  You haven’t been sitting in that damned recliner all this time, have you?  Of course you haven’t, because you’ve been listening to us all along.  Well, now’s the time to start reaching out to that network you’ve built and get started.  You adjust your profile on LinkedIn to reflect that you’re currently seeking new and challenging opportunities (again, not that your jerk of a lying scumbag boss fired you to cover his own ass) and you start reviewing your connections.  And because you read The Bachelor Party Hypothesis, you already know in your mind who’s in those top two tiers that are going to best be able to help you…and also willing to help you in your time of need.  That’s where you start reaching out.

Take advantage of the time.  Look, I get it – this sucks.  Been there.  It’s the most gut-wrenching feeling in the world when you wake up and don’t have a job to go to and haven’t lined up your next source of income…but you might as well take advantage of the time that you have before you hop back into the hamster wheel.  Take a break during the day from firing off resumes and calling recruiters you’ve met at previous events to drop the kids off at school and pick them up in the afternoon.  Tell your wife that your ego needs a little boosting and have a nooner on the kitchen table.  Pick some weeds.  Finally grab those branches that fell during the windstorms two weeks ago.  Sit down and do some web surfing about some what events are coming up that you might want to be at, and start putting together a calendar.  Finally get around to figuring out why the garbage disposal makes that funny noise from time to time (note: doing so might also encourage the kitchen table action…gotta give to get, you know).

Remember – you’re the bigger person in this break-up.  You’re the person that people will be in slack-jawed amazement over in regards to how well you’re handling things.  It doesn’t matter how much your upper GI tract is twisting in knots when you’re talking to a recruiter and internally begging them to find something for you…you maintain your calm, your cool, and your composure…and you’ll be head and shoulders above many other people in this same set of circumstances.

We’ve gotten you through the first couple of days or week here, and a little later we’ll talk about what happens if it goes on for a little longer than you expected.

David Phillips is the geek that’s been pushed into management roles over the span of his career. He’s been a helpdesk jockey, a team lead, a systems architect and even a Vice President over the course of his more than 20 years in information technology for a variety of industries. He’s been profiled by CNN’s Money Magazine for his work with the group, as well as being a regular speaker for the Michigan Shifting Gears program, winning 2013’s “Outstanding Contributor for the Transformation of Careers and Lives”. The views and opinions expressed here are solely in his own, and relate to IT in the D only.

1 COMMENT

  1. Another great article, Dave – you’re on a roll!

    The one comment I’d have to make, is that the answer to “what happened?” does not alway have to be a . What, truly, DID happen in your situation? The economy changed, or the company direction changed, or some damn thing changed – that made your employer suffer a sea change go through the Jekyll-and-Hyde thing. Everybody understands the constancy and inevitability of change, and it’s easy to explain it in a way that reflects no negativity on either you or your former employer (tempting though it might be). Such an explanation also shows a level of professionalism that impresses employers. That approach might be worth trying if, God forbid, history repaeats itself…

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