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Be a Jerk, Lose Your Job

Topics: Career Advice
lose your job
Rosaura Ochoa/Flickr

About a month ago, BuzzFeed brought to our attention what was possibly the craziest Ask a Manager question of all time.

Entitled I ghosted my ex, and she’s about to be my new boss, the post was essentially what it says on the tin: the writer, a math teacher at an international school, had recently discovered that his new director would be an ex-girlfriend. And not just any ex-girlfriend, but the one he lived with for two years and ghosted without a word, moving out of their apartment and her life with no explanation.

Alison Green’s advice, spot-on as always, was to contact Sylvia (his ex) ahead of time, apologize and ask if she’d like to talk about what to do next.

But, she cautioned:

I don’t know that you can salvage this! It’s not reasonable to ask Sylvia to manage someone who she has this history with. You can try and see what her take on it is, but I’d be prepared to have to move on, whatever that might look like for you. I get that it’s going to be inconvenient — maybe even quite hard — but there may not be an alternative here.

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The Follow-Up

If you’re a fan of advice columns, professional or otherwise, you know that you don’t always get closure on the best columns. But sometimes, you do — and lucky for us, this time is one of them.

The original letter writer sent a follow-up to Green, reporting that he did indeed reach out to Sylvia, and received no response. He then contacted HR, to cover all bases … and wound up meeting with the chair of his board of overseers and Sylvia herself. Although the chair didn’t think it necessary to terminate over past bad behavior, he did set out several precautionary measures, which the ghoster found “rather excessive.” He resigned on the spot.

In the end, he says:

In a summary, as many of those self-righteous people on the Internet hoped, I came out of this with no job, no severance and no prospect for another job in this city. Obviously, I have to leave as I need to make a living. I will be shortly moving back home for several months to work as a substitute teacher, with an agency. I will see what next later. So I had my comeuppance. I am most certainly not asking for pity. I only wish there were not other individuals bearing the blunt of my immaturity in the past. (My partner cannot join me due to visa issue and family situation.)

The Lesson

The corporate world is small, and the personal and professional often overlap. You may think that your bad behavior at home or at work won’t affect the parts of your life outside of that sphere … but you never know who your next boss will be. If you don’t want to be embarrassed — or worse yet, lose your job — treat people the way you’d like to be treated.

Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear from you. Tell us about your worst-ever coworker in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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