Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: The New Job

Every week, Danny M. Lavery and Nicole Cliffe discuss a Prudie letter. This week: the new job.

Daniel Lavery: i’m very glad the LW was able to acknowledge that the source of this problem is “I’m terrified to even think that someone might be mad at me”

Nicole Cliffe: Oh, boy, time for some emotional detachment


Daniel Lavery: yeah! that is 100% your problem here

Nicole Cliffe: People leave jobs! Also you are leaving for school, as opposed to another job, not that there WOULD be anything wrong w leaving for a new job.

Tell your manager first, giving them your formal notice.

Then pick the people you are closest with and tell them your exciting news.

Don’t apologize, just say you’re thrilled to be getting your dream postgrad spot, and you’ll miss working with them.

Daniel Lavery: yes, this is a classic case of “set the tone by acting excited”

Nicole Cliffe: Exactly

Daniel Lavery: it is not your responsibility to manage the completely bizarre expectation your coworkers apparently had that you were going to do this job until you turned 65

Nicole Cliffe: Also it sounds like a horrible workplace so I do not want the LW to think we’re judging them for being afraid people will be mad

Daniel Lavery: i think it will help to remind yourself that these relationships were partly formed out of necessity/survival

Nicole Cliffe: It simply doesn’t matter

Daniel Lavery: right, you kind of know that you wouldn’t really be friends with them outside of work, or maybe even if you were in a less horrendous work environment

but because things were so dire you grabbed at whoever you could

professionally, it might make things a little difficult if your mentor cut you off forever and never spoke to you again

but it’s definitely recoverable, and you’ll hopefully find better mentors in your new program

Nicole Cliffe: Especially since you are moving on to an academia-related path, it’s unlikely your mentor can throw a spanner in the works w future references, but that’s why you focus on civil and upbeat

Daniel Lavery: you already have a new job, it’s not like this mentor could hold a reference over your head

Nicole Cliffe: Precisely

I just think this is going to be fine, and six months out you will have a lot of perspective on how crummy this experience was

I would also prepare to hear “pack your shit and go now” when you give your notice, but in a teaching position it seems less likely

Daniel Lavery: the most important thing to take away from this will be that if someone is mad at you for stupid reasons over unreasonable expectations

it might feel bad

but it’s not your fault

and you don’t have to take responsibility for fixing their anger


like, if you can just remind yourself “They have decided to be angry for foolish reasons, and they are only making life more difficult for themselves,” that will hopefully counteract the part of you that thinks of everyone else as your school principal

Nicole Cliffe: Do NOT offer to train your replacement once you’re gone. You can spend your notice period creating or updating documentation, but you absolutely do not need to take calls or respond to emails once you’re out that door

Daniel Lavery: As a person who has also historically not been great with confrontation and a fear of other people being mad at me

you really do just have to work hard to let go of some of that

Nicole Cliffe: I will never be mad at you

Daniel Lavery: because otherwise you will make your own life absolutely impossible

Nicole Cliffe: but still

Good work

Daniel Lavery: i could handle it now, i honestly could

Nicole Cliffe: That’s amazing and will never come up

Daniel Lavery: i don’t LIKE confrontation

i’m still ME

but it no longer feels like the thing i have to avoid at all cost

Nicole Cliffe: Today in my live video I used your thing about “sometimes you have to have the fight”

Daniel Lavery: but like, if they get mad at you, just keep saying to yourself, “Who cares! They can’t fire me!”

Nicole Cliffe: Because it’s so true

Daniel Lavery: oh HUSH

do go on!!!

Nicole Cliffe: You can be sweet and kind and respectful and have great communication but in all relationships there will be things you have to actually fight about to resolve!

And that’s okay.

Just fight fair and then be gentle after

Daniel Lavery: and there’s just not a better solution

Nicole Cliffe: And in this letter, you do not need to have a fight, you can just use best workplace practices, give your notice, and leave pleasantly

Daniel Lavery: like if i had found an easier way to deal with my own conflict avoidance i would have chosen it

Nicole Cliffe: Oh for sure

Daniel Lavery: yeah my guess is this person’s definition of conflict is, like mine, “anything less than perfect smoothness”

“a hint o’friction”

Nicole Cliffe: SAME


Nicole Cliffe: “If you knew my HEART you would not be mad at me!!”

Back to the letter:

If you are offered an exit interview, I would keep it bland

Daniel Lavery: yes

Nicole Cliffe: just for bridge burning

you will not succeed in transforming their hideous recruitment patterns

so do not cut your own future reference off at the knees by assuming the company will want to do better

just focus on this new opportunity and maybe take the chance to praise the few people you actually think ARE good, not just people you have trauma-bonded with