Beat your bitchy boss to it: a note on resigning with style

Posted on: 2013-04-24 in Resources   |   Tagged: bitchy boss communications how to how to manage people effectively legacy resignation letter

An open letter from @Adam_Ketterer (senior account manager at B2B public relations agency TopLine Communications) to the readers of the B2B PR Blog.

Dear B2B PR Blog readers,


I'm so sorry I didn't write sooner. I just heard JLS split, and I was trying to imagine what the short one with the big forehead would go on to do. But enough of that. I can't go on any longer without sharing with you my love for the letter. It's an incredibly versatile medium that, in all its forms, has the power to convey much more than just information. (Where was your letter, Aston?) Letters can be formal and bureaucratic, of course. They can be boring corporate memos and pointless emails. But they can also be long-awaited day-brighteners on your doormat. Most of us have written letters to fat, bearded, imaginary men and far-flung friends and lovers - maybe even far-flung, fat, bearded lovers. A letter can bring good news or bad, but at its best it's an emotive and powerful form of communication.

Famous letters

Asked to call to mind the letters that made the biggest impression on them, some fans of the form might cite the love letters (and poems) between Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, or St Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, with those famous lines on love that you'll probably hear at a wedding at least once. Then there are the bleaker tones of Oscar Wilde's letter to Bosie - later called his De Profundis - which he wrote in Reading Gaol, and the succinct and dignified letter of condolence from Abe Lincoln to Mrs Bixby. And who can forget that very British epistle, the letter of complaint, like this note to Richard Branson from a disgruntled Virgin passenger.

The resignation letter

The kind of letter I'm interested in today, however, is the letter of resignation. In a previous post, @TopLineFounder offered some advice for those of us with a bitchy boss. I should stress now that this advice is sound and I recommend you do your best to follow it. However, if working under your boss is an interminable ballache with no remedy in sight, here's an addendum to that post: Quit! Resign! Throw in the towel, give up and get out. Try to have a better job lined up, naturally, but remember that staying too long in a depressing work environment is probably worse than having a clean break.

Which brings me to the resignation letter. This is your chance to set the record straight, explain your reasons for leaving, and, most tempting of all, to tell your boss just how much of a twat they are. If you're feeling generous you might even give them some friendly advice, but that's optional, and they probably don't deserve the help.

Thanks to the power of the internet, lots of resignation letters have come to our attention at the B2B PR Blog. Here's a rundown of my favourite resignation letters (in a loose sense of the word - hey, it's a fluid medium) and the tips we can glean from them:

Have a laugh!

Disclaimer: not a resignation letter, but still great. Groupon's troubles came to a head earlier this year when CEO Andrew Mason was fired. In his letter to staff (and, inevitably, the world) he keeps the mood light by opening with a joke, playing the "leaving to spend more time with my family" card - favourite of so many big corporate fall guys and failures - before cutting through the crap and laying out his shortcomings with refreshing directness. It's a funny and sweet goodbye. Good on him, the failure.

Break with tradition

Pope Benedict surprised everyone (though I assume he expected his boss was on to him) when he packed in the papacy. Here's his letter explaining his position for anyone deficient in omniscience. You have to hand it to him, telling your god to stuff it is pretty ballsy.

Pick your platform

This former Wall Street investment banker had his resignation letter published in the NY Times - quite the soap box for describing the culture at Goldman Sachs, his ex-employer, as a "toxic and destructive" one in which the company is number one and the client is there to be exploited. Yeah, stick it to the Man, ex-Man!

When in doubt, ice it on a cake

This one's pretty self-explanatory. And tasty.

March out with the band

This hotel worker got fed up of his bad treatment. So he dropped his resignation letter at the feet of a stunned manager before strolling out at the head of his marching band. What a dude.

Make an emergency exit

This has to be my personal favourite. A flight attendant lost it on a plane at JFK when an abusive passenger refused to sit down during landing. Something snapped in Steven Slater's head and he did what any 20-year veteran at the end of his tether would. He addressed the "motherf***er" (passenger) over the tannoy, gave him a cursory "f*** you", and launched the emergency exit chute. Steven paused only to grab a beer from the cart before sliding down from the moving plane and heading home. Let's set aside the fact that he was convicted of criminal mischief and reckless endangerment - he's my hero.

Over to you

Now remember, bitchy bosses can be won round. But if all else fails, and you've decided to resign, think hard about writing your fond farewell. It may well be the most important communication you write in your soon-to-be-former position. It's your chance to right wrongs and tell a few home truths to those who need to learn. More importantly, it's your legacy in letter form. Write wisely.


For those of you who aren't quite at this last restort stage (kudos), here's some advice on how to deal with a bitchy boss.

If you've told your bitchy PR boss where to go, good for you! Read our account manager's handbook before you find another role. 

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About this blog


The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog is managed by B2B PR specialist Heather Baker, founder TopLine Comms, an inbound marketingB2B content marketing agency and proud HubSpot partner agency and takes contribution from anyone sensible in the industry with something intelligent to say.  Follow Heather on Twitter @TopLineFounder or contact the B2B PR Blog editorial team via email on [email protected].


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