Story: How I decided on how said goodbye to my team

January 2nd, 2020

After I decided to leave my current team,

I wanted to say goodbye.

In a beautiful way.

I wanted to create a beautiful goodbye.


But I did not know how...

(at the time I didn't even have the words to describe what I wanted)

So naturally, I ended up procrastinating and ignoring it,

my default response to these types of situations.


Good thing I have a regular appointment with a therapist who knows to ask the right questions.


"Oh, and do you know already how you are going to say goodbye?"

That was indeed the question I was actively ignoring...

...great...thank you for that (not really)


"Are you just going to say goodbye? Buy them a treat? Silently disappear? Go for a drink? ..."

Yes more options, exactly what I need.

None of them resonated though.

The urge to create a beautiful goodbye made any and all of these feel like different shades of 'not good enough'. (aka failure)

Procrastinating until I don't have time for anything but the most easy options,

will only shift my feeling towards it being more of a failure.

This reminds me of a quote from The Witcher on Netflix"If I must choose between two evils, I prefer to not choose at all",

except that would be an actual choice made from responsibility,

while my choice not to choose was made from cowardice)


"Are you going to give them the chance to say goodbye to you?"

Crap, yeah, I did not think of that...

...there are 2 people in every single relationship between me and a colleague.

That's pretty selfish to only think of myself.


I also asked around a bit, and decided I would also give some chocolate treats.

This was the tradition for birthdays, and I thought it would suit this also as a minimal.

I did not want to do the 'Silently disappearing' thing, no matter how nice it sounded...

...because that feels like betrayal? I dunno exactly, it just feels off.


And it also happened to be my birthday, so I had that as an excuse or backup.

This took away part of the pressure of 'needing to have SOMETHING'.

This reminds me of an anecdote from how enjoying some activitycan be blocked by a feeling of obligation of having to do that activity.

It also reminds me of how saying 'no' feels liberating and safe, which can open the way to a 'yes'.





I don't know which of these things influenced me, which didn't.

But I ended up thinking of a couple books I read.


In Multipliers, a book about people management,

they mention that naming someone's strength can help them immensely.

People often are not aware of their strengths,

and pointing them out to them can lead them to focus on developing those strengths.

So I took this as a general direction for my desire to have a beautiful goodbye.


In positive psychology, a field of research as a counterpart to regular psychology,

they mention character strengths and they named 24 of them.

So I took this as a focus and inspiration for my desire to have a beautiful goodbye.


In Non-Violent Communication, a book about communication,

they say that compliments and insults are both judgements about others,

and expressing judgements are violence.

They speak of a non-violent alternative to compliments:

This is what you did.

This is how it affected me.

Thank you for that.

So I took this as a constraint for my desire to have a beautiful goodbye.


I also wanted to have it beautiful, and wanted to prevent these things to be interpreted negatively.

So I only want to mention positive things.

No unsolicited constructive feedback.

Only positivity, if someone wants constructive feedback,

they'll have to ask for it, and even then that won't be part of the beautiful goodbye.


Since the contents of this goodbye are personal and vulnerable, I want them to be private.

I considered telling them in person, maybe going for a walk,

but even going for a walk would likely be very much overstimulating to me.

And I might forget what I was going to say, and reading it out loud is so meh, and ...

So I'll type them, print them, cut them, and put it in an envelope for them to find on their desk.





So I ended up with this format:

  • only positive things (no constructive feedback, or feedback at all)

  • non-violent (no judgement, no compliments, no insults)

  • label every anecdotal shared memory with one of the strengths

  • only memories of how they impacted ME (no generic 'I saw you do this to others and that was really nice of you')

  • give everyone a sealed envelope, so it's private


Character strength

This is what you did.

This is how it affected me, what it meant to me.

Thank you for that.


So I typed up the strongest memories I could find per colleague.

Some colleagues had one very strong memory one and a couple of weak ones, so I ignored the weak ones.

Some colleagues I had many, some only few,

that was okay, no comparisons were needed.

Only a beautiful goodbye...


...and beautiful it was!