how do I resign when my boss is a horrible person who will yell and insult me?

A reader writes:

I currently work for an emotionally abusive, unstable, plain mean boss in the entertainment industry. I’ve held out for nearly a year (the pay and benefits are great), but I’ve been actively job searching for about seven months. Nothing has worked out yet, but I’m (knock on wood) coming close soon. However, every time I’ve left the office for an interview, I’ve given the excuse that I have a “doctor’s appointment.” Additionally, I actually have more actual doctor’s appointments than the usual person, as I have a chronic GI disorder that requires regular upkeep, and my boss is aware of my disease — and asks a lot of invasive questions about it that I stave off with a “I don’t like to discuss my medical issues.”

All that said, my boss is truly a Bad Person. I fantasize about accepting a new offer and leaving this job with nary a word to anyone, disappearing in the night. However, I know this isn’t feasible nor professional, and I work at a very large company and, at the very least, want to leave on good terms for the sake of saving face with my colleagues. But I’ve gone on so many “doctor’s appointments” that I feel like I’ll have to tell my boss I have something terminal to leave this job. I know part of this is my dread at having a conversation with my boss where she’ll inevitably call me a liar/yell for no reason/imply that I’m stupid, but when the time comes, how do tell her I’m leaving? Chances are high she’d even pull a “Don’t bother showing up tomorrow” when I put in my two weeks notice.

The most important thing for you to remember when it comes time to resign is this: You’re leaving this job! Hurrah! Soon your horrible boss will have no power over you. And she definitely has no power to stop you from leaving. So regardless of how she handles this, you are leaving this terrible job and will be free.

It doesn’t matter if she thinks your reason for leaving is good enough or not. You still get to leave.

When you have the actual resignation conversation, all you need to say is this: “I want to let you know that I’ve been offered another job and, after a lot of thought, I’d decided to accept it. My last day here will be (date).”

Or, here’s another version: “I’ve really enjoyed my time here (that’s a lie for the purpose of making this go more smoothly), but I’ve been received an offer that’s too strong to turn down. I’ve decided to accept it, and my last day here will be (date).”

If she accuses you of lying about doctor’s appointments to go on interviews, you don’t need to get into that. You can respond to any accusation like that by saying, “I don’t think I’ve misused any of my time off. I’d like to focus on what you need me to get done during my notice period so that I can help make the transition as smooth as possible.”

If you say that and she continues yelling/insulting you/otherwise being abusive, you can say, “I’d like to work out my notice period and help with a smooth transition, but if you don’t think that’s possible, would you prefer I left sooner?” Say this calmly. If she says yes, you should leave now, then you should say, “I can certainly do that. I want to be clear that I am offering two week’s notice if you’d like it, but if you’re asking me to leave now, I can.” (You’re saying that because you don’t want claims later that you left without notice. For the same reason, you’d want to send her an email documenting that discussion immediately afterwards, cc’ing HR. In fact, you might even tip off HR before you talk to your boss so they know you did indeed give sufficient notice.)

And if you’re pretty sure ahead of time that she’s going to tell you to leave that day, plan accordingly. Take all your personal stuff home ahead of time, and try to time your notice so that you’re not taking any financial hit you can’t afford. (That’s something else you can ask HR about ahead of time if you want to: Will they still pay you your notice period if your boss tells you to leave that day? Some companies will, and some won’t.)

But aside from this kind of preparation, don’t worry too much in advance about how your boss might react. She might yell! She might insult you! So be it. You already know she’s a jerk. None of that can stop you from leaving. You’ve already weathered plenty of bad behavior from her before now, and this is just one more unpleasant conversation as you walk away, knowing you’re now free of her.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 216 comments… read them below }

  1. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Another good reason to talk to HR ahead of time is that if your boss tries to hustle you out the door when you give notice, you might miss the opportunity to give an exit interview and they definitely need to know how you’re being treated. It’s entirely possible they’ve had other complaints about your boss.

    1. Pollygrammer*

      Even if HR isn’t going to take any action, it would be a good idea to request that calls don’t get forwarded to Terrible Boss if anyone needs to call the office to confirm employment in the future.

      1. AKchic*


        All this.
        I will never ask my last supervisor for a reference. She will probably give a semi-decent one, depending on her mood, but I’m not going to risk it. She is too mercurial and petty. I’d rather have a sure thing.

    2. Perfectly Particular*

      I’ve never really understood the purpose of an exit interview. If they weren’t willing to listen to you while you were employed, why would your input matter now?

        1. kmb*

          I also think they are really good, mostly for the patterns reason. I recently left a job because I didn’t feel like they handled an emotional abuse complaint in an appropriate way, and even though I had given written feedback (which wasn’t really responded to). It was really good to be asked what I thought would have been an appropriate way of handling it, and if I had any other challenges, etc. It’s a place that is going through a pretty dark time, and a lot of people are leaving because everyone is really unhappy because the culture fell off a cliff, and even if they don’t seem to be doing much to fix it. It also gave me an opportunity to really tell them how I felt about having to leave because of the situation, since this job was my dream job and they basically made it poisonous, and you don’t get to say those things in quite that way when you’re giving them the direct feedback they should be working on fixing. They can see the impact of what’s going on more clearly, and get some insight into how employees are thinking about and dealing with things they might not know are quite that bad / impactful (though they should).

          I also think it can be helpful for feedback even if you aren’t leaving because everything is on fire. My relationship with my manager was good, and outside of the exit interview she asked for feedback, and I gave it, and she received it graciously.

      1. Bilateralrope*

        It might be for them to hear complaints that they wouldn’t hear when the employee is worried about losing their job if they speak up.

    3. Working Mom Having It All*

      I mean, if it’s the entertainment industry (I also work in the entertainment industry, but thankfully for a great company and good boss), HR likely knows all about how terrible this person is and won’t do anything about it. The “must have a thick skin” culture in Hollywood is real, and it is super toxic. After 12 years of doing this work on two coasts, I don’t understand why the stakes have to be so damn high (my parents have both worked in emergency rooms and neither of them expect toxic workplaces or job descriptions like “must have a thick skin”). At the end of the day, it’s a business like any other.

      But that also cuts both ways, because many people know who the notoriously awful bosses are, that means that when that person’s reports “quit with NO NOTICE!!!!!”, HR knows what that really means.

    4. letter writer/survivor*

      Hi! I’m the letter writer. I’ve already spoken to HR about her conduct, and basically — there’s nothing they can/want to do. My boss is in her late 70s and I found an old (we’re talking early 2000s) email where the higher-ups had been discussing downsizing her department, and she basically threatened to sue for ageism. But, I digress – everyone, including the presidents, are aware of her conduct and her notorious cycling through of subordinates, but nothing has been done for decades.

      1. Ainomiaka*

        The talk to HR before is honestly the part of this advice I would quibble with. Be prepared for them to immediately email your boss. I can see why if I squint-their job is to help the company, and more time to plan a transition does fall under that. And maybe the herp I dealt with was uniquely bad. But them emailing my boss when I asked about policies is definitely a thing that happened.

        1. Ophelia*

          I was thinking this was “talk to HR 30 minutes beforehand, and then go right to talk to your boss,” so she can’t pull a fast one?

            1. ToS*

              Seconding this. Check with HR about how much notice is preferred or required (they should know this, also check you employee handbook, some levels of professionals ask for a month or more…which you would just say only two weeks is possible) Mention to HR that you are worried about boss’s reaction and want to be on the record for providing adequate notice.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Good luck with your job search! I hope we get an update from you soon letting us know how giving your notice went.

      3. Karen Jones*

        I have the same issue at my current job. Boss is an older woman but the only difference is that she is mentally unstable. She comes in everyday and slams her office door shut and locks herself up in there. When she does come out she comes out to complain and yell at everyone. She frequently insults people in the department makes comments on their dress, looks and says other demeaning things. She talks to me and everyone else like we are her children. I have reported her to Hr who wont touch her. They say that there is nothing they can do that is just her personality. In speaking with other employees I have learned that another guy before me quit due to her as well. I have never quit a job without giving 2 weeks notice minimum. At my last job I stayed over 30 days to train my replacement. I am at the point where I am considering quitting without notice and just not including this job in my resume. I come home depressed and so stressed out I can barely function. I feel your pain!

  2. Amber T*

    Honestly, I’d keep my fingers crossed she’d tell you to leave same day (assuming your company pays you through your notice period anyway). If your boss is known for screaming/acting irrationally, I’d give HR a heads up that you’re leaving before your boss and “ask for suggestions” on how to resign.

  3. Pollygrammer*

    It might help to remember that she doesn’t have the moral high ground as far as the fib goes, no matter how much she might claim to. Almost everyone who is job hunting has had to use the “I have a doctor/dentist appointment” excuse.

    1. Amadeo*

      I tend to just say ‘an appointment’ and leave out what sort. Most of the time my superiors don’t make the distinction or fill in ‘doctor’ on their own.

      1. AKchic*

        Exactly. When dealing with things Outside The Office During The Workday an “appointment” is generally sufficient. I know this boss is nosy and pries, and many bosses do because they are nosy or fishing for dirt for whatever reason, but the standard “I don’t discuss my personal life” really throws up that boundary and sets it firm.

        1. Pollygrammer*

          If you have a “sick leave” bucket and a “time off” bucket, and time off needs to be approved in advance, you have to make a choice between sick leave and potentially outing yourself as job-seeking.

          1. BF50*

            There are other appointments that one might have to take during normal work hours, though generally not as frequent as doctor’s appointments, and there are certainly more if you own your home vs rent.

            Though it is more believable to have a series of doctor’s appointments, vs a having a series of random appointments. If you are going to a bunch of interviews, the doctor appointments are better, but if you are only going to a couple, you could also use stuff like having cable installed, having furniture delivered, having a plumber come fix something, having the plumber come back to fix it again, meeting your insurance agent to go over your coverage, switching your bank account, or meeting a mortgage broker to discuss refinancing.

            1. nonymous*

              Also helping parents navigate appointments can be a good excuse. It’s reasonable that parents of working adults might be getting their financial affairs in order and want the person who will be their power of atty updated at the lawyer and accountant/financial planner. And those kind of activities shouldn’t be categorized as sick leave.

              Also, I’ve never had any employer bat an eye at me taking a day off to play tour guide to visiting family/friends. Treat yourself to a visit at a local park or museum or happy hour after the interview and it’ll be enough to chat about at work the next day.

              1. Triplestep*

                I have a parent with whom I sometimes attend doctor’s appointments, and I used this as an excuse to be out of the office for an interview last week. I probably won’t do it again – it felt like I was putting a bad omen on my mother’s health!

            2. Ainomiaka*

              This is what I did at last job. Because we do have separate buckets and using the wrong bucket would be punishable.

    2. Carrie*

      Though, actually taking sick leave for something that isn’t an illness isn’t quite ethical. It’s no problem if you’re taking unpaid/flex/vacation time and just saying it’s a doctor’s appointment.

      1. HMM*

        Given the way our hiring system functions (in the US at least), as an HR professional I don’t think it’s unethical to use sick time for interviews. It’s the practical thing to do when interviews are scheduled on short notice and vacation time may not be approved with that little notice.

        1. Ainomiaka*

          But if the places separate leave, this is a way to turn your reference into “well, we had to put them on a PIP for abuse of leave”

          1. HMM*

            I’m sure that could happen with unreasonable managers/HR, but in that case, they’re going to be unreasonable one way or another and this is the least of your problems. The likelihood of this happening seems negligible to me.

            And the only way they’d put you on PIP is if they found out you were searching and you hadn’t secured a job offer yet. But if you’re already resigning, they can’t just make up a PIP on the spot. Well, they could, but again, unreasonable people are going to be unreasonable regardless, which makes it more worth it to me to use my limited options to get out. The benefits outweigh the (IMO minimal) risks.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Let’s see, moral high ground vs physical and mental well being… hmm.

          We do make these trade offs sometimes because there really seems no other way to handle things. I have never used sick time to job hunt, I have been fortunate enough not to have to make that choice. I could see me doing it if I believed my back was up against a wall and there was nothing else to do.

          A family member asked a potential employer to meet with them after hours because they would work the hours they were paid to work. This really impressed the new employer. Later the new boss said, “In that moment I saw how you would treat US.” Family member got the job for other reasons but I think they caught the boss’ attention initially by their integrity regarding hours worked for their current employer.

          I have kind of held on to this story because to me it telegraphs something about the quality of the potential employer that the boss was willing to stay late for the interview.

          This was a similar setting when the family member gave notice Old Boss did the screaming and cussing thing. Then Old Boss threatened to make sure that my family member could not get insurance during the gap period. Family member just said, “okay, whatever”. It was kind of a stupid threat to make, almost as if the boss had no other “weapons” in his collection.

      2. LV426*

        It’s possible that she’s just using a PTO bucket. In my company they got rid of sick leave and everything is classified as PTO.

        1. the gold digger*

          1. This!
          2. I got over the ethics of it when the company that bought my company converted our personal days to sick days that required a doctor’s note for more than two days in a row. As I do not get paid OT for the days I have to be at the ferry at 5:30 a.m. and don’t get to the hotel until 10 p.m. after dinner with co-workers (even though I have great co-workers, it’s still work), I don’t feel bad at all for being sick of work every now and then.

          1. Colorado*

            completely agree. There is nothing wrong with being sick of work and taking a mental/physical break from it once in a while. Take care of number 1, the company will always take care of itself.

        2. Foxy Hedgehog*

          Yes. And (speaking from experience) you might find you have fewer issues with your chronic GI condition once you leave your stressful job.

          1. ToS*

            Exactly, and if they fuss about sick leave, the supervisor/employer is responsible for initiating the FMLA conversation for a serious health condition with intermittent leave use. Let’s hope she gets the job and has a smooth transition.

      3. Positive Reframer*

        I think a strong argument could be made in this case that it is for health reasons. A toxic stressful environment isn’t just bad for your emotional health it can be damaging to your mental and physical health.

        1. Snickerdoodle*

          Yeah. My last job was toxic and led to stress headaches and stomachaches, drinking too much, not sleeping well, and generally being depressed or angry. Mental health days are a thing. Abandoning the idea of leaving a full notice period was also a thing.

  4. JokeyJules*

    think of it this way,
    you wont be working for this person for much longer, so who cares how they take the news? In ~2 weeks you will be rid of them, but they will be stuck with themselves forever. Whatever they say truly holds no weight at all.

    Also, I’ve been in your position and quit. It is glorious.

    1. Wendy Darling*

      I quit a terrible job without a new job lined up because my boss’s increasing verbal abuse was destroying my mental health. The prospect of her being even MORE abusive for two weeks was more than I could bear, so I definitely understand why the letter-writer is concerned about it! I agreed with myself that if she got nasty I would just decline to work out my notice.

      Fortunately for me she decided to refuse to speak to me ever again after I gave my notice and all communications were handled through HR. (HR was one person who quit about a month after I did.) The only way she’s found to stick it to me is to refuse to verify my employment for a background check — apparently her silent treatment extends to refusing to return phone calls about me. But I have tax documents to prove I worked there so she can go piss up a rope.

      1. JokeyJules*

        “piss up a rope”
        … I am going to find a way to use that in daily conversations now. Thank you.

        1. Snark*

          There’s a comic called Achewood where a tweaker squirrel named Todd is told to piss up a rope. He does, exclaiming that “this ain’t one of the better ropes no more,” and triggers a shift in reality to North Korean Magical Realism. It’s truly amazing.

        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          There is a Ween song by the same name. I will now have it stuck in my head all day.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            PSA: it is *NOT* a nice song. I just listened to it after not hearing it for years and yikes.

      2. Wendy Darling*

        …also on my last day after I’d handed in all my company equipment I went home and played Don’t Stop Me Now for like an hour on repeat and danced around my living room.

        1. Snickerdoodle*

          I like it. I played “Take This Job and Shove It,” but without the dancing. I had also quit without notice because the abuse was too much to handle anymore. Also, over two years later, they STILL post job ads every few weeks for that position since nobody else will put up with them, either.

  5. Mike C.*

    I did this years ago and it feels GREAT! They can’t do a single thing to you, and if they get abusive you get to leave! What could be better than that?

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It seriously is so liberating to leave a horrible boss. And you don’t have to worry about how they’re going to take it, because you don’t have to work with them anymore! All you have to do is remember that you’re sane, you’re taking the high road by being professional, you’re allowed to leave any job and you don’t have to justify why, and you never have to deal with this person again.

      So hooray, OP! We’re all going to toast your escape!

      Sometimes if someone is being really abusive and horrible, but I know I get to leave, I’ll pretend I’m watching a two-year-old throw a tantrum. It helps me disassociate from the abuse, and it’s sometimes flat-out amusing to watch a grown-ass person come completely unhinged. It has the added benefit of not giving the Bad Person the satisfaction of seeing your discomfort, because you’ll look calm as hell, and they’ll get increasingly pissed that you’re not cowering or upset. Honestly, getting to be totally professional on your way out of a job while someone acts a fool is deeply satisfying, full stop.

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        So much this. Step back and watch the fire burn. Would a healthy person jump into the fire and try to calm it down? No. Fire doesn’t work that way. Let it burn itself out.

      2. Magenta Sky*

        “I’ll pretend I’m watching a two-year-old throw a tantrum.”

        Or a YouTube video of someone who is trying a little too hard to go viral. And failing.

        1. AKchic*

          When my first ex-husband used to have mantrums after I left him and his control tactics no longer worked, and he would call me at work to harass me, I would interrupt (oh, the nerve! A woman dare interrupt The Man!) and say “are you quite finished yet?” in an exasperated tone, as if I were dealing with a small child. He would get so angry that he’d start to stutter.
          It took him days to realize that each call was being recorded (I worked at a prison), and that a coworker was calling the police (I had two restraining orders against him at the time, both he’d violated which resulted in 5 year probation which meant 5 year no-contact order that had *just* started).

          Just remember: you’re leaving. This person has no power over you. They yell with impotent rage because they know they have no real control in their life, so they try to manufacture control wherever they can.

          1. Dr. Pepper*

            My grandmother used that tactic for dealing with kid tantrums! It works well for adult tantrums too. They want a reaction, and when you give them nothing but “are you done yet? I’m bored” it really throws them for a loop.

            1. RJ the Newbie*

              It’s so funny that I used to do this same thing…for an adult and very very bad former boss.

          2. Snickerdoodle*

            Yep! Abusive ex employers and abusive exes are a lot alike. My former boss sent me a nasty email raging when I emailed him to say “either send me my paycheck or I’m filing a complaint with the labor board.” My abusive ex boyfriend talked trash about me on the Internet over a year after we broke up (and for all I know, he still does). I ignored all of it because they had no power over me anymore. The bullying emails and posts were attempts to engage me and drag me down to their level, but I refused to give in and just remembered joyfully that I was rid of their crap forever.

      3. pope suburban*

        I really second your advice about picturing an unreasonable person as a child. While I didn’t end up having to employ that strategy when I quit my abusive former job, it was what allowed me to keep it more-or-less together there for three years. I mean, really, it *is* ridiculous when an adult screams and yells. It’s a bit embarrassing, and definitely not worthy of respect, engagement, or fear. OP, I am so happy for you that you’ll be leaving soon! Secretly I’m hoping that your horrible boss will just deflate like mine did, upon the entirely-subconscious realization that their good reliable punching-bag-slash-gofer is not going to be there to do things for them and minimize the damage of their outbursts. People like that rarely learn from these events, but there’s a certain satisfaction in watching them get caught flat-footed.

        1. letter writer/survivor*

          Hello! Letter writer here. Thank you for your well wishes! My boss has actually cycled through subordinates at an ungodly pace that upper management just…tolerates, so deflation is unlikely. She yells and screams, then cycles through pretending to care about my apparently declining health, then throws us under the bus to others, then etc etc. It’s a horrific cycle that I’m happy to leave. Fingers crossed that an interview actually works out soon!

          1. SavannahMiranda*

            LW, I had a boss that was the exact same way, FWIW. I still remember my shock the day I realized she was doing what she did semi-deliberately. That she psychologically needed a dumpster person to dump on whether she was self-aware of that or not. That management co-signed and enabled her in having that (they wouldn’t have used those words but they did nothing to mitigate her and continued to hire new fodder for her). And there was literally no way to ‘win’ or ‘make things right’ or ‘make things better’ in the situation I was in. I had in fact been hired to be a dumpster, and I was fulfilling that purpose. No one but me was going to do anything about it.

            Leaving was glorious. Absolutely bird-singing and sun-shining glorious. I was on a high for months afterward. Honestly, months. Getting out of a no-win dynamic like that makes you really value ethical organizations, good or even simply acceptable bosses, and fair working conditions. I take none of these for granted now!

            It took me two years to get out because this was during the depths of the recession. But I did make it out, and I like to think I’m a more compassionate and mentally well rounded person for it. I’m certainly no longer naive about what having a boss like this is really like, and the games it can play on one’s psyche. You will come out of this stronger for it and better for it. And she will be stuck like a baby sitting in her own poopy diaper!

            Good luck. Keep us updated!

          2. pope suburban*

            Oof. That sounds astonishingly familiar. My old position used to churn through people like that, such that nine months was the longest stretch anyone held that position before me. Knowing well the frustration you’re dealing with, and how unsettling it is to have an asshole pretend to care about you until they want someone to scream at, I hope you get a great offer five minutes from now. It’s not easy. But once you’ve escaped and are on the other side, the tiny silver lining is that very little will ever seem That Bad to you at work. You’ve survived this, and you’ll go forward stronger and, once you’re safely out, healthier. You can do this!

          3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            It may be helpful to employ my second favorite image, which is to imagine your boss as a monkey flinging poop. Then imagine yourself in a forcefield, where the poop just hits the field and slides off without touching you.

            Because your boss sounds exactly like a tantrum-fiending, poop-throwing monkey.

      4. Dr. Pepper*

        Anything that emotionally distances you from the situation is great. Abusive people are wonderfully good at turning the situation around and making their chosen victim believe that they themselves are somehow to blame. That’s how you get sucked in. That’s why you desperately search for a way to make them happy, to placate them. That’s why you’re sure there is a right way to resign, correct words to say, the perfect combination of professionalism and word choice that will magically result in your boss taking this calmly and reasonably.

          1. Dr. Pepper*

            Nope, there never is. You could grovel on your knees or tap dance naked while giving them the double middle finger, none of that matters. They’re going to be an abusive jerk regardless.

            I really hope the OP can see it for what it is. Asking for the right way to placate this person is feeding the belief that the OP is somehow responsible for the boss’s behavior. Scripts are great for navigating difficult situations with reasonable people. Unreasonable, abusive jerks? There is no script that will change that.

      5. AdAgencyChick*

        Ha, yes. I like to think of rude clients as dinner theater, and a bad boss freaking out at your departure would be similar.

  6. Observer*

    Please keep in mind that you do NOT have to give her any reason for leaving. It’s one thing when you are actually working for someone – then they get to decide if it’s ok for you to leave for the day etc. But NO ONE but you gets to decide whether your reason for leaving the job altogether is “good enough” nor are they entitled to a reason.

    So, if your boss tries to tell you that you “can’t” leave because you don’t really have another job or something like that just repeat “xx/yy is my last day.” If it doesn’t let up, just end the discussion and go back to your desk (either to leave or to do whatever work is left to be done during your notice period.)

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yup yup yup. It’s not indentured servitude, and OP gets to leave whenever for whatever reason. I love the advice of just repeating your last day. Don’t engage if your Terrible Boss tries to trick you into justifying your exit.

      OP could say they’ve decided to visit every KOA in America instead of working. Or to pursue their love of trapeze artistry in Turks and Caicos. Or they miss their true passion of working as a latte foam artist, or a llama herder, or whatever OP damn well wants because they’re free!!

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I agree. There’s really no reason why OP needs tell her boss why she’s leaving. It could be she got a great offer, or she got a meh offer but wants out of the toxic environment, or is moving, or any other reason. Doesn’t matter. She’s leaving and that’s it. Sure, people do typically offer up something to the boss by way of explanation, but in OP’s case I don’t think it’s necessary to offer it up without being asked. Seems like Bad Boss will just use that as a way to heap on more verbal abuse. Of course, if the boss asks then she should answer with something rather than ignoring the question.

    3. Artemesia*

      So this. The reason you are leaving is you have another job. No explanations needed and don’t let her push you into giving one. And definitely see HR first if it is a big company and there is one and definitely make sure HR has the two weeks notice and also your report that the boss refuses to let you work out the two weeks if that happens so there is a record of your professional behavior. If the boss is demanding ‘answers’, ignore that and pivot to ‘what do you need me to do in the next two weeks to make the transition go smoothly.’

    4. AKchic*

      Yup. Toxic Boss isn’t owed any explanation. It’s just like any other break-up. They are only owed the “it’s over”. It’s a courtesy to give two weeks (unless you’re under some kind of contract requiring you to give longer), but really, you can quit immediately.
      You still want to have a decent reference, and lets be honest, when you have an abusive boss, you can never guarantee that the reference will be good to begin with. Talk to HR and ensure *their* reference will be favorable and that Toxic Boss won’t get to communicate with future employers.

      Then, break up with TB. They aren’t owed an explanation or where you’re going (in case TB tries to sabotage the next job).
      Tell HR in the Exit Interview your reasons for leaving. In fact, insist on an exit interview.

    5. Dr. Pepper*

      And be as bland and as pleasant as possible if you do the broken record “my last day is X” routine. You owe her nothing, including an emotional reaction to whatever she’s going to say/do to try and make you stay. Or punish you for leaving. Whatever. You can nod, make non-committal noises, and repeat “my last day is X” in the blandest way possible. I’ve discovered that unstable people run out of steam faster if you act like you’re listening to them and agreeing, even as they’re being completely ridiculous. She’ll flame herself out eventually. And if she doesn’t, who cares? You’re outta there.

    6. Snark*

      And, also, bear in mind that “I can’t take the emotional abuse and deranged screaming” is a reason you can give, if you want to try bursting an aneurysm a few years early!

    7. letter writer/survivor*

      Letter writer here. This is great advice. I may just…not give a reason. Just repeat that my last day is my last day (fingers crossed that that ends up being soon…) and wish her well.

      1. SavannahMiranda*

        This will take you our of AAM-land but it may be helpful to look up J.A.D.E. when dealing with manipulative and mean people. I won’t go into it so as not to derail, but check it out, and remember not to J.A.D.E. It’s one of the first things mean people convince us they are owed, and it’s freeing to take it back. Good luck!

  7. Icontroltherobots*

    +1 to removing your personal belongings. This can be tricky if you’ve put up high value/large items (like a fancy framed degree) but anything concealed in a draw should be removed.

    Allison’s advice to tip off HR is excellent. I would do that immediately before going to your boss. You can also add a “I’ve informed HR my last day will be XX, would you like me to leave today or work through my notice period?”

    And don’t let her torture you for two weeks. Set clear defined boundaries, like I can complete X but not Y. I have a commitment so I can only stay until 6pm tonight. That request will take me 3 days, I can’t have it to you tomorrow morning.

    I once used my personal computer to finish a project (after my last time) and my old boss tried to make me feel bad for not working more, for free, when I was no longer employed by the company, on highly confidential information.

    1. Anon today*

      Maybe stay late the day before giving notice to remove larger items after boss leaves for the day.

    2. FannyPackOptional*

      If you know that you WON’T be paid if you do not work during the notice period (and you want/need the money), don’t frame it as a question – make the boss tell you to leave immediately, otherwise you’re giving up your money to this terrible person. It will be much easier to set boundaries with her if you’ve quit since she has no leverage over you (if she tries to pile work on you, just say you are leaving at X time that day, and then go, do not leave it up for debate with her).

    3. Kathleen_A*

      I have no current intentions to leave my job (though you never know, of course), but I have sometimes looked up at my gigantic vintage US National Park Service poster, which was printed back in the 1950s when a poster was a poster, by gad (it’s here rather than at home partly because I just don’t have the wall space at home), and thought to myself, “If I ever want to get that out of here on the sly, I’d have to sneak in after hours.”

      1. AKchic*

        I feel you there!
        When I knew I got my current job, I didn’t have a start date right away, so I couldn’t put my notice in. I started sneaking the small, non-essentials home. Just a little at a time. Nobody really noticed that all my drawer knick-knacks and toys were gone. Only the things on my shelf (pictures), my necessary medications and my day-to-day snacks were left. I took my annual holiday boxes home (“well, we’re running out of space, so now we can put two more boxes of records here”), I took my remaining plant home (“it needs to be transplanted” “oh, I keep forgetting to bring it back”)
        When I put in my notice, I had less than a full box of personal belongings and supplies left to take home.

    4. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      A tip I once got that I like: if you have weekend access to the office, go in on Saturday or Sunday and clean out your desk. Or stay late on Friday and do it then. Enjoy the privacy of the empty office and take your time. Make sure you get everything that’s yours. Clean too – mop off the surfaces and organize your files. Put all the extra pens and post-its back in the supply closet and go really minimalist.

      Then come in on Monday feeling light – with just a small bag and the clothes on your back – and give your two weeks first thing in the morning. If you are asked to leave immediately, just zwooop! turn right back around on your heel and walk out the door, free like a bird. If you work the next 10 weekdays, let your empty, impersonal, shiny desk be a symbol that emotionally, you already disentangled from that mess.

    5. Agreed!*

      “Take all your personal stuff home ahead of time.”

      I’ve done this before, but slightly different. I took home everything people wouldn’t notice was missing (like stuff in drawers or small knick-knacks), but left the “big things”: the personalized calendar of my dog, my kid’s baseball schedule, my fancy pen I took to every meeting, etc., so no one would suspect anything. I also kept a bag of plastic grocery bags and a small box from Costco at my desk in case I needed to make a quick escape.

      Another thing I did was email anything I wanted to keep to my personal email: photos from the Halloween contest, a pic of John’s new baby, email addresses of people I actually liked, helpful internet links I might want to revisit someday, etc. I knew I couldn’t use a USB drive because the documents would be encrypted (i.e. junk) once I tried to pull onto my personal computer. Just be careful of the company’s policy regarding actual things you’ve worked, since there might be rules that say you can’t remove them from the office.

      I also pre-wrote my resignation (I just needed to add the date) and “goodbye” emails to coworkers. If it does go down quickly and/or badly, you’ll have everything lined up. And it will also feel sooo good to write “this email is to inform you of my resignation…”!

      And good luck! Just remember – it’s not your fault your boss is crazy. Wash your hands of this nonsense, and don’t look back!

    6. BeenThere*

      I tend to keep my area pretty clutter free for just this reason. I don’t want anyone to notice I am suddenly cleaning things out…

      If you can’t do that, you might start decluttering and if anyone asks, tell them you are just cleaning up your office/desk/whatever. Do it a few things at a time and they may not even notice.

    7. letter writer/survivor*

      Letter writer here. Luckily, I only have two unframed photos on my desk! My boss finds decor gaudy!

  8. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    You are resigning BECAUSE your boss is a terrible person.
    How do you do this without your boss being a jerk? You don’t. Instead you enjoy it.
    You tell yourself: This will never happen to me again. I will never be forced to interact with this person again.
    Even if we encounter each other professionally down the road, I will not be this person’s employee. I will not have to take his shit. I will walk away. I will tell my employer exactly what he said and my new employer will support me, even if I have to deal with him, I don’t have to defer to him.
    And also remember, what other people think of you is none of your business. If boss is going to badmouth you once you leave, that has nothing to do with you.

  9. Amber Rose*

    Time to memorize the Labyrinth monologue! Or at least the end bit. “You have no power over me.”

    And she doesn’t. Time to re-visualize her from scary monster boss to temper tantrum throwing toddler. Someone else’s toddler at that. Her yelling and insults are the whimpers of someone else’s problem and are at worst, a mild annoyance to you. You don’t need to acknowledge the words, rise to the insults or get worked up about the accusations. They are nothing more than the ridiculous over reaction of a child who can’t have a cookie.

  10. Not Today Satan*

    If it were me, I’d ask someone else to be in the room. There’s no reason to subject yourself to further yelling and abuse from this person. If she did start getting abusive I’d walk around of the room that second. Making a transition plan is a courtesy.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yep. I think I’ve told this story here before, but when I resigned from a job when I was about … 25?, my boss locked me in her office for two hours and spent that time alternately (1) berating me for obviously not caring about the organization and (2) trying to wheedle me into staying. It was like she was playing both good cop and bad cop. At the time I was pretty entertained and intrigued by the spectacle so didn’t even think about leaving, but I really should have gotten up, unlocked the door, and left. You do not have to stay and be subjected to abuse!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It actually wasn’t! I knew I was leaving no matter what she said (and I was really annoyed that she hadn’t taken any of my complaints seriously until I resigned, at which point she suddenly claimed to be ready to act on them), so I just sat back and watched it unfold. But I think for someone who took less pleasure in resisting authority, it would have been unsettling/upsetting.

          1. Minocho*

            Yes, I had a similar experience. My boss was an okay guy, but the owner of the company was firing long term employees to high personal friends, forcing us developers to work in the garage while creatives and his sister got to stay in the air conditioned house (a big deal in Houston summers!) and getting one of the other developers to wash his car. I didn’t trust him or the company’s longevity, and started looking. When I gave my notice, my poor boss was freaked out and the went to the owner, who called me into his office and did pretty much what Allison described – trying to be both good cop and bad cop (you’re due for a big raise if you stay! I can make sure you never work in this town again!).

            I figured he thought I was an easily cowed young woman sothat he could intimidate me into backing down. I had the same bemused attitude of “Hmm….I don’t think he realizes how transparent he is” along with enjoying being able to just calmly say “No” to him. It’s great when you can be in that emotional space when you give notice.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        Locked the door? I’d have looked her in the eye and dialed 911. Unlawful imprisonment is a crime.

        (The odds of an actual prosecution are slim, unless she uses physical force to interfere with the call, but having the cops show up in the office is a wake-up call to everyone who can fire such an abusive idiot.)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Well, I assume I could have unlocked it and walked out — I don’t think she would have physically prevented me from leaving! But who knows; she was on a very strange rampage. I do think, though, that the locking was intended to signal “we’re going to be here until you change your mind” (because I’d had other closed-door meetings with her before and she never locked the door previously). But I am laughing right now thinking about it, so it wasn’t too terrible.

          1. EddieSherbert*

            That’s good, at least! I think this totally depends on who is locking the door (as well as the mindset of whoever is locked in, haha).

            When I resigned from ToxicJob, my manager was an approximately 6′ 4″ extremely buff guy who wore too tight shirts and loved to scream. Literally every visible part of his body would turn red when he was mad (like his face and neck and arms?). I was just hoping to survive my resignation and I think I would of had a panic attack if he even stood between me and the door, let alone locked it…

        2. Amber Rose*

          It’s very surreal to have someone lock you in a room. It’s just so beyond the pale, the surprise kind of overwhelms fear or anger.

      2. Fin Shepard*

        In forty years of working, I have never given an oral resignation. Before email, I wrote a memo. After email, I sent a message. Why subject your self to unnecessary crap?

        1. myfemmebot*

          Agreed. I was in a situation where I didn’t trust my boss. He is the kind of person to twist a verbal resignation into something I didn’t say and use it against me for all eternity. So email it was.

          Months down the road he harassed me and tried to blackmail me into paying some of my salary back. Nutcase that one.

        2. Star Nursery*

          I’ve always with my resignation and either handed a copy to my boss when I spoke with them or to their boss is they were not available. I think I did that both ways… Verbally telling them but also bringing a politely worded resignation letter.

      3. Observer*

        Maybe not a worst boss, but I’d say pretty close to that. In what other ways did she abuse her authority?

    2. JustaTech*

      Would blatantly recording the meeting do the same thing? Something like “I am recording this meeting, the recording device is clearly in my hand and I have said plainly that I am recording”? (I don’t know if that would address the 2-party consent issues.)

      Or it could make the boss even angrier, I don’t know.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I was thinking that. If boss started to throw a tantrum, would there be any issues with pulling out your phone and recording. I *think* that since it would be obvious, that wouldn’t be a violation of two party consent, but I am not a llama.

        1. Cmg16*

          That seems like the kind of think that might provoke some people, and not really serve LW’s goals of a speedy exit.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yeah, it’s pretty adversarial and is likely to make you look weird to people who hear about it. There are better ways to deal with this that won’t reflect oddly on you.

        2. ContentWrangler*

          It also depends what state OP is in. Not all of them require two party consent. But I think it might be simpler on OP’s side to simply loop HR in first. If a boss this volatile spots a recording device, I think that is only going to cause more trouble for OP

        3. Clisby Williams*

          Two-party consent isn’t universal. In my state (SC) it’s perfectly fine to record your conversations without notifying other parties.

      2. Anon For This*

        I recommend not starting out with it but if it escalates, it’s reasonable to try.

        I’ve seen it end in a police report when the unhinged boss then decided to get physical.

    3. Bea*

      This is why I didn’t give my abusive idiot boss a chance. I wrote my resignation and dropped it on his desk with a breezy “I’m giving you my two weeks. Last day is XX, YY. Let me know if you need anything special prior to my departure.”

      The psycho thought he could tell my coworkers they’re not allowed to be references. Like I was going to put them down as one. My solid background speaks for itself. Bye, dude.

  11. imustbanonymous*

    Congratulations on your impending escape! My boss, who I’ve actually had bad dreams about, retires in 2 years. So I know there’s an end in sight, unless I find something better before then.

  12. ChaufferMeChaufferYou*

    In some states, if you give two weeks notice, and they ask you to leave immediately without paying out your notice period, you can file for unemployment.

  13. Dr. Pepper*

    Whatever your boss says or does, it’s not personal. It’s not a reflection on you; you have not failed to say the magic words that will soothe her (they don’t exist!), and you certainly have not failed to give a good enough reason for leaving. The fact that you are indeed leaving is plenty good enough. She’ll probably go through her regular temper tantrum routine, so definitely be prepared for that, but it won’t be because you failed in some way. It will be because she is a horrible person who doesn’t know how to act like a reasonable, mature adult. You don’t get to decide her reaction, which sucks because it’s probably going to be awful. But that also means you have zero, I repeat zero, responsibility for her behavior. She is the one who decides her behavior. As long as you keep everything professional on your side, how she reacts is of little importance. Cover your butt as much as possible of course, because unstable jerks will often attempt to sabotage your reputation in some way, but remember, you’re leaving! She can go fuck herself.

  14. Abaxsc*

    Keep in mind that you do not have to tell her where you are going. When I worked for JerkBoss Attorney (30 years ago), I had two co-workers who gave notice, only to have the new offers mysteriously withdrawn. So when I resigned, I declined to specify my new employer. I simply said “another law firm” and would not give any other info.

    1. ChaufferMeChaufferYou*

      Yep, I do everything in my power not to tell anyone where I’m going next. I even wait a few months into my new job to update my LinkedIn profile. Paranoid and weird? Maybe. But I’ve heard too many examples of crappy people getting their exiting employees terminated from their new job before they even start.

      1. SavannahMiranda*

        It happened to me once too. The industry in my city for the line of work I was doing at the time was exactly two employers. They were rival companies and competed greatly for competent employees. There were no other shops who did what these two did.

        When I left employer A, I promptly took a job with employer B. Who were thrillllled to have me and my experience. They showed me my desk, set me up with materials, and were excited for me to come to work. I came to work the following Monday morning and was shown the door.

        The conversation when employer B did it was very strange. They were hinting at something I couldn’t put my finger on or get out of them in straight language. It took me several hours of sitting at home in shock later that day to realize they were telling me I was a thief and apparently had stolen from employer A. Needless to say I’d done no such thing. But employer A had no qualms about lying about me. They simply didn’t want me to have a job if they had the power to stop it. And employer B was careful not to say something actionable. Of course in an At Will state, they needed no reason whatsoever to ask me to leave.

        I ended up not being able to work in that industry and my career path changed because of it. I started over in a new field. I didn’t know if Head Owner A had called Head Owner B, or if wacky employee at A called her contacts at B, or what. I’ll never know. Nothing was provable and I was too small potatoes for any commission or attorney to be interested in. It was definitely a life lesson!

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*


      Did those co-workers ever get details on what happened? The idea that someone would sabotage a new job offer is so utterly… IDEK. Why would you want to keep an employee who clearly doesn’t want to be there?

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It’s such a Dirtbag Asshole Attorney move, and I bet the coworkers worried they couldn’t afford a lawyer to file a claim against JerkBoss.

      2. OhGee*

        Yeah, I’m all for avoiding armchair diagnosis in the comments section but a boss who would tank a departing employee’s job offer *still* makes me think “sociopath.”

        1. Abaxsc*

          “Sociopath” and “dirtbag” didn’t even begin to describe him. But it was in the 1980s and secretaries didn’t have a lot of power. It was easier to just move on and get far, far away.

      3. Unike*

        I just resigned from my job at a law firm working for a difficult and horrible partner. Everyone’s first question is what law firm am I going to. I wouldn’t put it past her to “casually” say something about me to her contacts at new firm, possibly trying to mess with my employment. Difficult people just want to continue to make things difficult, since they won’t be able to exert control over you anymore. Therefore, I’m not saying the firm

        1. AnonForThisOne*

          See, I would have such fun with that! I would pull a list of all the law firms in town out of the phone book, and tell each person who asked a different firm, just for the fun of it. LOL

    3. Hills to Die on*

      I would even lie about where you are going. Llama petting expert in Guam. Ever heard of Acme Llamas? They are the number 5 llama petting agency in the Pacific. I’m going there. Make sure she doesn’t do some sleuthing to find out and make sure you don’t tell anyone else where you are going. Until you already have been working there a month.

  15. Anonymouse*

    Also make sure that your new job can have you start sooner than 2 weeks especially if yoir 2 weeks aren’t honored or you aren’t paid for it. Just mention that there might be a chance that your current company will want you to transition sooner and if so you would be interested and available to start sooner. Good luck

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Or make sure you have your financial obligations covered so you can take a two week break to decompress from terrible job before you start the new one.

      1. Let's Talk About Splett*

        This is what I would plan on. Some places have certain start dates for a business reason, like New Hire Orientation only takes place at specific times, or the hiring manager has a planned vacation right before your start date.

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I was wondering if that would be possible. Why not start NewJob early if you can? Unless you want two weeks off and can afford it if OldJob doesn’t pay you, or if you don’t want to let on that OldBoss was a nightmare and let you go early.

  16. A username for this site*

    I’d recommend packing up your stuff as soon as you have an offer in hand, then giving notice to your boss and HR via the same email. Then, let the chips fall where they may, not your problem any more.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I agree. Moving staff after giving notice can be hard if you have the kind of Boss who will try to terminate you before the notice period expires.

  17. University Imp*

    Definitely email a letter of resignation to HR before your meeting. A coworker gave notice after 11 years of faithful service and glowing recommendations. Her faculty boss said ” you can’t quit you are FIRED. Fortunately she had given notice to the departmental CFO. The incensed boss then tried to get the CFO to fire her. He was met with “you can’t fire her, she QUIT.”

    My experience after 9 years was much the same – different faculty member, 45 minutes of screaming saying that 2 weeks notice was not sufficient and I need to give 3 months notice and find my replacement or continue to work for him 1/4 time!

    Trust me. It is better on the other side. Don’t let fear of a tyrant negatively impact your choices.

    1. Augusta Sugarbean*

      And Bcc your personal email on the HR email letter of resignation. It’s the only way to be sure.

      1. Snickerdoodle*

        Yeah. I forwarded or BCCed my immediate supervisor on EVERYTHING when I quit my toxic old job. (She was leaving, too, and we were each other’s references when escaping.)

    2. Observer*

      It would be funny if it weren’t so bizarre and awful. Exactly how did he think he could enforce that?

  18. Let's Talk About Splett*

    If you think you are close to an offer, I would actually start taking stuff home now. Not just the obvious stuff like framed photos and desk figurines, but go through and clean out your entire workspace for personal papers like bills, gift cards you put in your drawer and forgot about, etc. You don’t want to leave that kind of thing to the mercy of someone like this.

    1. SoCalHR*

      agree – little by little so its not so obvious. And if you’re one of those people that has TONS of personal stuff at your desk you can chalk it up to wanting to go more minimalistic (should anyone comment).

    2. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      I actually did this when I started looking. Took little stuff home. It’s actually helped cement the mindset that I will be leaving.

      Plus, it’s less stuff to pack up so when I DO get an offer I don’t have to hang around at my desk on the last day.

      1. Let's Talk About Splett*

        Yup, I forgot to pack up some things I wanted to save (like birthday cards) when I was laid off once and by the time I noticed & called HR, everything had been tossed.

      2. Dr. Pepper*

        Yes! Even the act of cleaning up your personal stuff can help you detach from the situation. Obviously don’t make a big deal of it, but take advantage of this time to go through everything, including your computer, and tidy up and take home anything personal. You can grab a mug off your desk in a hurry. You can’t transfer files and photos or locate those little personal odds and ends at short notice.

        1. Snickerdoodle*

          That’s why my dad never set up shop at any job he had. He didn’t want to take anything with him, but he also didn’t want to get so enmeshed that people noticed him taking stuff home.

    3. Mockingjay*

      Clean up your laptop or computer too. Remove any personal files and photos. Download pay stubs and withholding documents, and any other info you might need, like contact phone numbers/emails for colleagues and HR. Also determine what the final pay requirements are for your state.

      1. Long Time Reader, First Time Poster*

        Forward yourself copies of your performance feedback, reviews, etc. as well.

      2. Slartibartfast*

        If you have electronic payroll statements, screen shot and print everything. My last job was paperless payroll with direct deposit, and I didn’t realize I would lose access to my digital pay stubs.

    4. AKchic*

      Go through ALL the files.
      If anyone asks, tell them you’re auditing yourself and ensuring that everything is in order and shredding the unnecessary.
      And yes, anything personal that you aren’t taking home needs to be shredded, not thrown out. You never know what ToxicBoss might attempt. He may get curious or worse, suspicious.

  19. lnelson1218*

    A friend of mine had a horrible boss. The boss’s main form of communication was yelling. He insulted everyone. Belittled people whenever he could. Nothing was ever his fault. And gaslighting was his hobby.
    He was searching for another job. At one point he was informed that he was going to be laid off. But they gave him a long notice period.
    I recommended, but he didn’t listen, that he make sure that the company understood that he was willing to work out the notice period as long as bad boss behaved. So, the first time bad boss starts to yell and tossing insults, just walk out the door and inform appropriate people (including in house counsel) that this is your last day and why you aren’t working out your notice. And don’t forget to include the vacation pay out in the final paycheck.
    He never did. I really think he should have. There is some point that the money isn’t worth the pain.

  20. Bilateralrope*

    Do you know where the security cameras are looking ?

    Because this might be a conversation you want to have with your boss where you are being recorded. Just in case this causes your boss to be worse than normal.

    Another option may be to have an email ready to send to your boss and HR on your phone. Hit send just before you start talking to your boss. That way everyone is clear that you have proof that you gave notice.

    1. Snickerdoodle*

      There were security cameras at my toxic old job. I made damn sure to stay within view when leaving so they couldn’t accuse me of theft.

  21. Kelly*

    Total agreement on taking personal items home. My workplace has been iffy lately and I’ve been Shawshanking stuff home for weeks. Just in case.

    1. BeenThere*

      You hide things in your pants and shake them out in the exercise yard????? (Just picturing office products falling out of Andy Dufresne’s pant leg!)

    1. letter writer/survivor*

      Thanks! I hope so too. Entertainment can be wonderful but also incredibly frustrating when it comes to the search.

  22. McWhadden*

    This is the rare situation where you should let your two middle fingers do the talking.

    Not really but, seriously, you are finally in a position where this person doesn’t have the power over you. If they start screaming you can walk away. It’ll take some time to get used to it but it’s really very freeing.

  23. Angela Ziegler*

    I’ve been in this position before. I planned an ‘exit strategy’ and took home all drawer/shelf items from my desk, and kept a surplus of bags hidden to carry the rest. While normally I wouldn’t dream of just leaving on the spot, I hadn’t been on the job long (so the absence wouldn’t be horrible on my resume) and knew trying to work with my boss for 2 full weeks after putting in notice would’ve been intolerable. (I literally didn’t work with anyone else, just him one-on-one.) I planned to go straight to HR and let them know I was leaving then and there. I couldn’t imagine the aftermath if I told him to his face.

    As luck would have it, minutes before I was going to do this (I was going to let myself try and enjoy lunch at least) I was flagged down by my boss’s boss to discuss internal organization changes, and it turned out they were going to fire my boss. I’m thankful I didn’t actually have to quit… But I definitely had to weigh ‘Unprofessionally leaving without notice and burning bridges/harming references/resume gap’ against ‘Working closely with an unpredictable emotionally abusive tyrant for 2 weeks straight.’

    1. Snickerdoodle*

      I LOVE it when timing works out like that. I was on the point of being driven out of an otherwise okay job once when the horrible loon responsible quit because she was about to get fired. Then everyone else came out of the woodwork saying they were in the same boat. It was beautiful.

  24. CatCat*

    I definitely recommend looping in HR so your boss does not control the whole narrative of your separation.

    If your boss asks you to leave immediately, ask if you will be paid for the two weeks. If not, go ahead and file for unemployment. I assume this varies by state, but you’ve got nothing to lose by filing. In my state, there’s a one week waiting period, but after that, you’d be able to get a week of benefits before your new job starts.

  25. Lily in NYC*

    I’ve had bad bosses, but only one was so bad that I was worried about his reaction when I resigned. I was young and not as assertive as I am now and just told him that I was moving out of state to be closer to family. Total lie. Now that I’ve matured a bit, I’m not remotely intimidated by angry middle-aged men so I would probably enjoy telling him to his face that I was quitting for a better job with a boss who wasn’t a rage-a-holic.

  26. KitKat100000*

    Every time I have given notice at a job, I am usually giddy with excitement! Sometimes this is because the old job isn’t great, the old boss isn’t great, I’m excited to move to a new city or state, I am excited for the new job, or I am realllly excited about the pay raise. I hope that giving notice will allow you to be giddy and happy. A few awkward moments will make up for many years of happiness to come!

    You could also plan a nice dinner or drinks with friends for the evening after you give notice – a way to celebrate – that way you have something to look forward to and you can’t chicken out (trust me, I have put off giving notice before) on telling your boss you’re leaving.

    Good luck on the job hunt and I hope to hear an update!

    1. Birch*

      This is such a good idea, and especially if you predict some bad feelings. Out with friends you can shake it off and tell your horror story, get loads of sympathy from friends, etc. At home alone you might be tempted to spiral into self-doubt or marinate in the negative emotions (at least I would, as much as I’d be convinced I did the right thing).

  27. I See Real People*

    I was fortunate to have left a job (boss) like this a few years ago, while terrible boss was on vacation! The timing was perfect. She found out while she was skiing. HR demanded I stay until she returned, but I told them ‘no’ and told them why. That I could leave in peace was worth the risk of leaving in ten days instead of two weeks.

    1. Let's Talk About Splett*

      Once when I was leaving a boss I hated, my two week notice fell during two short work weeks (Veteran’s Day and then Thanksgiving), which was nice.

  28. Wendy Darling (the other one)*

    Great advice from AMA. Honestly, be prepared to leave when you give notice. Be aware other boundaries may need to be asserted here. I had a horrible boss that sounds just like this one and giving my notice was a delight. I was berated and than dragged through hours of questions about different job responsibilities which eventually devolved into him yelling at me. I spoke and said that I don’t like being spoken to in that manner and could he please stop yelling. Whoops! Boundary Alert! He said, “If you don’t like it, you can leave.” So…I did. Dropped off my keys at the CFO’s office, said goodbye, grabbed my purse, clocked out and left. I’m praying you will feel the same relief I felt when that offer letter showed up in my Inbox. Best decision in my work life.

    1. Snickerdoodle*

      AWESOME! That’s much better than my horrible old job. They had been threatening to fire people, so we all quit without notice. There was no concrete glorious “Okay, bye” literal moment, though.

  29. Master Bean Counter*

    With a smile on your face knowing you don’t have to deal with the crazy after two weeks.

  30. Polymer Phil*

    If your company has a history of hustling people out immediately, it’s OK to quit without notice. Last thing you need is to eat Ramen noodles and max out your credit cards because you got an unexpected two-week unpaid vacation.

  31. Klew*

    I worked for a horrible company where there were clearly favorite departments and people. I did not work in one of those departments. When they moved me, an accountant, from accounting to engineering (?) I finally decided the high paycheck was not worth all the bull.

    Gave my resignation letter to my manager, he read it and said “I think you need to leave now.” I’m sure he thought I would be upset but I just grinned, saluted and walked out. I received a few high-fives on the way out from others who were as miserable as I was.

    Then they tried to hold my last check but that’s a whole other story.

      1. Fuzzy Pickles*

        Might be like what I experienced in the past. Marketing was moved under IT because that’s what the boss’s son wanted to do while keeping his VP of IT job… and to hide from parent company that they weren’t using shared services as required.

      2. Bea*

        Given the amount of places I’ve seen assign not-accountants/accounting personnel to accounting…I’m not shocked they’d try putting an accountant in engineering. Argh.

  32. professional_failure*

    I had a very similar boss who became unhinged when I resigned. He knew to only yell at me when we were alone in the office, so I gave him my notice on a Friday afternoon when everyone was there, hoping it’d give him time to cool off. As I was also dreading the conversation, I printed off my resignation so I could hand it to him and, worst case, my point would be communicated.

    He took it wordlessly on Friday, but Monday morning was brutal. He yelled that I’d never be a professional success and that he’d call the references I’d given him and tell them I was a loser. When he asked if I wanted to take my two weeks, though, I was able to say, “I’m happy to work my two weeks notice if you need me to tie off any loose ends. If it will be two weeks of personal abuse, though, I’d like to go.” Then he had the nerve to ask me what company I was moving to, and I told him that based on his threats to try and ruin my professional reputation, I didn’t feel comfortable disclosing that.

    I walked out that morning, got home and cried. He was a miserable, awful man; being free of him and that job has done SO MUCH for my mental health. Plus, I’ve worked at newjob for 3 years and absolutely adore it! It gets better, OP!

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Wow. Why on earth would someone who just promised he’s going to call your references and dis you to them, think that you would tell him where you’re going?

  33. Chris Colohan*

    In many companies your health insurance and other benefits are monthly. So check and see if it is better to quit at the start of a month instead of at the end.

    1. Bea*

      Absolutely. This is why I squeaked into the first couple days of the month.

      I got a month of coverage. While working my probationary period. Only 1 month uncovered/on COBRA is easier to do when benefits are critical like the OP with their health issues.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Oh this is a good point.

      Every time I’ve left a job (whether quitting or fired), my insurance didn’t end until the end of that calendar month.

    3. Essess*

      Also check for deadlines for bonuses. I stayed at my toxic oldjob until a week after the deadline to qualify for the quarterly bonus

  34. Hanna*

    I think the OP should email the letter of resignation to both HR and the Boss, and then let them do whatever they do. They will come find you, I am sure. But at least no one can claim you were fired.

  35. Serious Sam*

    Could you not engineer it so that HR are in the room with you when you resign? Send out a meeting invite that is something like “OP’s Performance Concerns” that sounds like Horrid Boss has been sadistic enough to get you to set-up your own PIP meeting. They will both turn up and you resign when both are in the room. That way HR gets to see Horrid Boss’s reaction for themselves.

  36. Bea*

    If she yells. You walk your ass right on out of there and drop into HR. File every grievance necessary because you’re done and the worst thing would be a bad reference. Which can be explained away easily.

    Once you’re out or coasting towards the end of the nightmare during a notice period your fear will melt away.

    This jerk has no power here anymore. Vanquish her to the depths of bad boss hell.

  37. OCD gal*

    I’m gonna print this out and put it on my fridge for inspiration. I have a third interview for a great job this Friday, and hopefully I will get an offer and get the hell away from my own terrible, yelling boss.

  38. Environmental Compliance*

    Hubs just went through this, albeit his boss is a weak-willed work-hoarder, not a yelly person. Hubs gave notice (after not getting any engineering projects for a couple months), and boss just signed and nodded. However, the following week, when Upper Management found out, one of them decided this was Not Okay and “strongly recommended” that that day was Hub’s last day so that “morale is improved”. Hubs laughed, shrugged, collected his things, said his goodbyes, and left.

    But all the other engineers (most of whom are also looking for new work) now know what has a good chance of happening when *they* give notice, and now aren’t planning on giving a full two weeks because of what they saw happening.

    1. Bea*

      This is valuable for them as well. While searching the “how soon can you start?” question will come up. “I need to give 2 weeks as a professional courtesy. However they have a history of walking out anyone who resigns. So I will start sooner if that tradition continues!”.

      I got told to leave a few days early. My new boss was over the moon. He understood and respected a notice period but starting 3 days sooner made my transition/training period 1000000x easier.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Right? We are lucky that we could take the partial loss of a paycheck – Hubs got a week and a half to decompress, finish some hobby projects, and take a break before starting a new job. It was really good for him. But if you were relying on that final paycheck before you could start the new job? Getting walked out *just because* you had the audacity to resign – that has potential to really screw people over. Plus, it does the opposite of morale boosting…

  39. Lynn Marie*

    If you have a start date lined up and you’re giving notice but can handle it if she tells you to get out now and stay calm yourself and use Allison’s scripts – you have all the power and it doesn’t matter at all how she reacts. In a paradoxical way, it can be kind of enjoyable to sit back and watch her have her last tantrum. And even kind of fun if it’s a doozy. Because you don’t care any more.

  40. A CAD Monkey*

    I left toxic job and horrible boss of 12 years last September. My resignation was handed in on the Monday I returned from vacation (decided over vacation to quit). About 20 min later I was told to grab what I wanted and walk out the back door. I had already taken a huge box of personal items home and what was left there, former coworkers had to pack and hand to me in the elevator lobby. I had nothing lined up and the 9 months afterward were the least stressed and mentally freeing time of my (non)working career. I now have a new job and am in a much better headspace and work environment. With the stress from old job gone, I’ve lost 40lbs (~18kg).

    OP, whatever stress and worry you have about turning in that resignation, just remember you will be out of that environment and away from the bad boss and it will feel SO GOOD.

  41. Jam Today*

    One of the greatest joys of my life was telling my boss, who was brutal to me (also sexist and harassed me), that I was leaving. The look of absolute terror in his eyes when he realized that despite the fact that he hated me, I was essential to his operation, was delicious.

  42. Penelope*

    Abusive, mean bosses will be abusive and mean to the next person too and hoping they won’t be awful when you reject them (quitting is that, even if it’s the right thing) might be an unrealistic dream. Unless you can come to some sort of mutual agreement that it’s simply not working out and it’s best for you to pursue other things, prepare yourself for it to suck. Keep it short, professional, and to the point.

  43. loslothluin*

    I just quit a Toxic Job, and I lied through my teeth. I said that I had enjoyed my time here, learned a lot (the only truth I told), and that I wasn’t leaving due to hard feelings or anything. I just said that it was a good opportunity, a 50% increase in salary, and that it was closer to home. They were actually nice about it and said they’d always be happy to give me a good reference in the future.

  44. Properlike*

    Oh, OP. My very first job in the entertainment industry was for a boss like this! (In fact, I wonder if it is the same person — the age is about right.) The fear of what she could do to my reputation in the Industry kept me in that job for almost two years. When I finally quit, without another job to go to, and was quite literally berated as I was shoved out the door, I soon learned that 1) I should’ve quit approximately 23 months before that, and 2) everyone KNEW that she was psycho, and having spent any time in that office was a badge of honor that led to some good conversations and a few job leads. GET OUT NOW. Save yourself. Don’t worry about her. It’s a small town, but it’s really a big town in the end, and if she’s mean to you, you can bet she’s been mean to other people who are eager to get back at her.

  45. Mountain Mystic*

    Years ago, after 5 years at a small law firm, I handed my boss my resignation letter as I told him I was giving my two weeks notice. He yelled for 20 minutes (he was heard out in the street!) some of the most amusing blither I’ve ever heard. “I can’t believe you’d make such an important decision without consulting me!” (Why exactly would I ask your opinion about my decision about MY life path?) “How can you do this to me? We’re like family!” (Uh…no, we’re not. And this behavior is going to make me want to stay?). But the most priceless line was, “You’ll never find a better job than this one!” That one almost had me laughing out loud while thinking, “I just did.”

    He left early that day and didn’t speak to me unless he had to for three days. Then he stormed up to my desk and said I owed it to the firm to let them try to match whatever the other firm was offering. So I made a list of the salary ($11K more) and benefits (health, dental, vision, ST and LT disability, 4 weeks vacation, paid parking). He took one look at it, threw it back across the desk and said, “No way.” He then continued his silent treatment and left early my last day without a word. The other partner congratulated me and said he understood why (I had a family to support and college to plan for).

    My office mate and a couple of other friends took me out to celebrate after the last quitting time rolled around. We had a blast and I never looked back. The old boss went through 4 secretaries in less than a year after I left. Karma is my friend!

  46. Argh!*

    If you are being paid more than you reeeeeally need, set some aside for the day when you just can’t take it anymore, so you can leave without having a job lined up. I asked to be laid off (I’d been retained after layoffs but in a position that was wrong for me), and I had both savings and severence for a cushion. That made a world of difference for me.

  47. StellaBella*

    Yikes, this brings back memories to 2014. I had 2 years of a horrible boss who screamed at everyone, sent people on mental health leave, and caused 8 of the 18 staff to quit. When I decided to give my notice, I went to HR first, told them, and told them I wanted an in-person sit down with them and the boss, to go over my leaving and why and …. after documenting to HR in writing and in person a ton of abuse he hurled at me about my skills, sat there to listen this boss say how great I was at all I did and….lie. So – when he got fired 6 months later for even more egregious abuse of government funds and some other stuff… I breathed a huge sigh of relief that at least others would not have to deal with him any longer. CYA, CYA, CYA. Force the hand of your abusive boss, make him accountable for the horrible behaviour as it may in the end benefit others, too, and save you the aggravation. Good luck!

  48. R*

    I don’t think that anyone should feel they must accept abuse. If you have reason to believe that your boss will yell at you when you resign, then don’t resign to her. Write an email to her boss and HR, possibly cc’ing her, stating briefly that you can’t take it anymore and are quitting. You don’t have to volunteer that you have another job. Offer to work two week’s notice to transition your duties (and state your last date of employment) – but insist that you will do that ONLY if you are not subjected to more abuse.

    I put up with too much abuse at my last job. I thought I was able to handle the stress – I had various stress-related health problems over the years, but managed to deal with them. However, the effect turned out to be cumulative, and I wound up in the hospital. I’m out now but I’m still unable to go back to work. I’m a cautionary tale: be careful about taking abuse.

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