By: Nikki Davis
“There’s a trick to the Graceful Exit. It begins with the vision to recognize when
a job, a life stage, a relationship is over – and to let go. It means leaving what’s
over without denying its value.” ~ Ellen Goodman
Exiting a relationship with grace seems like an oxymoron. The very nature of leaving a relationship implies a rejection of some sort and a business relationship is no different.
So how do you leave a professional relationship gracefully while still wanting to keep testimonials for work well done, referrals, etc? I can’t guarantee the latter BUT I can help you with the first part.
Like Ellen Goodman from the quote above, the first step is to recognize that it is unequivocally over. Oftentimes, we try to convince ourselves that things are ok thereby tolerating a business relationship that we really we do not want to have anymore (and probably have known for quite awhile). Realize that we do everyone a disservice when we are in this stalemate. Our clients aren’t immediately free to find a better fit for their businesses and we are not working in alignment with our passions and values. Definitely a lose-lose.
One of the things that has helped me to gracefully exit is recalling why I wanted to work with the business in the first place. Coming from this place, I become grateful for all of the learning opportunities, personal and professional growth, etc from this unique opportunity. It is here that I can begin to craft a quality message that both honors the business and our relationship.
Afterward, I can transition into why I am exiting the relationship such as going into a different direction, receiving an unbelievable opportunity, need for sabbatical, increase in rates/packages, etc. I then conclude the letter with recommendations of similar professionals that they might want to work with along with contact information. By the time the letter is finished, I am in a great place to present this information to my client (preferably in person if they are local) because I already am going into the meeting with the end already in mind.
As we all know, we can’t control how our client receives the information. All we can do is make sure that we do our best to put closure on the relationship with as much grace and love as possible.
How have you exited a client relationship? I would love to hear any successful or not so successful stories as we can all learn from each other!