how do I quit when my boss won’t speak to me?

A reader writes:

Let me preface this by saying, I love my job and I adore my coworkers. My boss and I go back a while; I’ve been their right-hand man for almost a decade. I have worked hard to earn the trust and respect of the folks I work with. We’re definitely one of those places that has insisted “we’re a family.”

Over the last two years, my boss has become increasingly erratic, quick-tempered, and secretive. It’s become dramatically less pleasant. We’ve had a lot of turnover in that time, shrinking from 18 staff to eight; four have left in the last six months alone. Those losses have hurt. Morale has been in a free fall, but we’ve all stayed because we love the work and each other.

In part through reading this blog, I’ve come to see how unhealthy our environment is. Once my coworkers and I started sharing more about salaries, we discovered glaring inequities. Our working moms, in particular, have gotten short shrift. Promised raises, never delivered. Explanations that asking for more will hurt coworkers.

When COVID hit, we hit rock bottom. The boss didn’t take it seriously — we had to organize ourselves and insist, as a group, that we could not come into the office. It went poorly, but we successfully lobbied to work from home, which we’ve managed to acclimate to beautifully.

But the hits have kept on coming. PTO suspended without notice. Angry outbursts. As I’ve become more vocal about my discomfort and desire for increased transparency and healthier communication, others have as well. As a result, the boss has shut themselves off from pretty much everyone.

When I’m being honest with myself, I realize I’ve been unhappy for a long time, and I’ve stayed for the people. I’ve got about six months of savings, a few promising side hustles I can scramble into a healthy freelance career, and many excellent relationships in my field. I’m ready to take the leap.

My question is … how the heck do I do it? My boss literally won’t speak to me. I asked the other day if we could have a serious check-in and they told me, verbatim, until I apologize for how I’ve been behaving, they have nothing to say to me. I’m desperate to get out as graciously as possible. I understand they’re under enormous stress. I have a lot of specialized knowledge and relationships that would dictate a longer horizon for transition planning, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help everyone move forward. I’m scared the boss will fire me the second I indicate I’m about to leave. I almost don’t care. I just want out.

Your boss told you they won’t speak to you until you apologize for how you’ve been behaving?

That’s … not how this works.

That’s not okay in personal relationships; it’s definitely not okay in professional ones.

And really, if your boss thinks you’ve been so out of line, why on earth aren’t they doing their job and addressing it as your manager? They’re just … leaving it in your court? What if you don’t apologize for months, or ever? I have so many questions about the specific brand of dysfunction you’re swimming in there.

Anyway, if you’re ready to resign, I would just … resign. Try first to do it in person — go to your boss’s office and just say, “I’ve decided to move on, and I want to formally give you notice and set my last day.” It’s unlikely that they’ll say “no, you can’t resign until you apologize” — but if they do or if they otherwise refuse to talk to you, then you should say, “Okay, well, please know I’m planning for my last day to be X, and I’ll send this in an email as well so you have a record of it.” (And then do that.)

If you’re currently working remotely, you can do the same thing using whatever method you’d normally use if they weren’t freezing you out — phone or so forth. If they won’t answer your calls or you otherwise can’t reach them, go ahead and just put it in an email. It’s not ideal to resign via email, but when you literally can’t reach your manager for something this important, you have to resort to it. (Make sure you cc HR if you have it and/or your boss’s boss. In fact, if those people exist — and I realize at this company they may not — you could also just go straight to them and explain you’re resigning to them because boss won’t speak to you.)

Now, the subject of your end date. It sounds very possible that your boss will indeed tell you to leave as soon as you give notice, so you should pick your announcement date accordingly. Since you’re quitting to freelance rather than for a another job that doesn’t start for a few weeks, you’re not in the situation some people are in, where they can’t afford to be without work for a few weeks if their boss tells them to leave immediately. That means you can give notice whenever is convenient for you. If your boss tells you to leave immediately, you’ll leave immediately. If that’s bad for the transition of your work, that’s on your boss, not you. (Do make sure you’re ready for that though — take home personal belongings ahead of time, remove personal files and emails from your work computer, save any contact info you’ll want to have after you’re gone, etc.)

I know you want to leave as graciously as you can, but you can only control your own side of things. By all means, give two weeks notice if they want it, be willing to work on a smooth transition, etc. — but if they tell you to leave immediately, that’s their call and you’re not responsible for saving them from themselves.

{ 257 comments… read them below }

    1. juliebulie*

      I anticipate that when OP resigns, the boss will be shocked, despite all the obvious warning signs.

      1. Perbie*

        So many ways it could go; begging to stay. Utter denial and ongoong silence until op just leaves. Angry “you don’t quit you’re fired now!” Op please update!

        1. It's me the OP I'm alive*

          Weirdly all of the above? The boss still won’t speak to me, but worked through a third party to get me to stay on as a contractor longer than I wanted, while also telling coworkers I was leaving for personal/family reasons. (I offered no reasons in my resignation and no questions were asked.) An incredible cocktail of denial, pettiness, and desperation. But I’ve been singing a new song recently, it goes:
          it’s not my problem anymore

          1. Perpal*

            Wow, the trifecta. That takes some kind of… talent is not the right word. But glad you are moving on and thank you for updating!

          2. Batty Twerp*

            Holy moly!
            Stand firm when your contract ends, OP. This is… no, even the usual AAM lexicon is letting me down here. This is nuts!!!!!

  1. Some internet rando*

    What in the what?? Your boss sounds terrible. I have a feeling that after you leave there will be a number of others who will see the writing on the wall. Send an update!

  2. CatCat*


    If you give 2 weeks notice and if boss does fire you on the spot and doesn’t pay you for the notice period, I’d file for unemployment benefits for that 2 week time frame. Where I live, there’s usually a one week waiting period before benefit eligibility, but that has been waived in the time of COVID.

    1. amy*

      100% this. And your unemployment is not limited to only the time between being told to leave and the date that you had proposed leaving. You can go ahead and collect all the weeks until you feel like doing your freelance/getting a different job.

      I would also recommend reaching out to the contacts that you have built a solid relationship with in the field now. Do not wait. Your boss sounds like they will go nuclear and you may come out on the wrong end of that and miss out on opportunities based on his actions.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It’ll depend on the state regulations. You can’t just collect unemployment in general until you “feel” like doing freelance/getting a new job. Yes the rules are different right now but that’s draining a system that is already ran down right now and unethical AF.

        1. Gatomon*

          Agreed. UI isn’t meant to bridge people until their freelance career takes off, the historical expectation is that claimants are looking for W2 employment while receiving benefits. Freelancing or 1099 work wouldn’t traditionally satisfy work search requirements, though I’m not sure what the work search requirements are currently. (It probably varies by state.)

          With the current backlog it’s likely any money received would take weeks to process anyway if it doesn’t flow through automatically (and it shouldn’t in this case.)

          1. somanyquestions*

            When I was on UI for a bit a year ago, they actually did stress that in my state, at least, self-employment planning and activities would satisfy work search requirements. You just needed to track things, report all income.

            1. TootsNYC*

              interesting! Last time I was on unemployment, in my state and many years ago, you couldn’t spend your time trying to start a new business. I had the impression it wasn’t just that you couldn’t count it, but that you couldn’t even DO it.

              1. MayLou*

                In the UK you get a year to start up, and then your benefits are calculated on the assumption that you are earning the equivalent to full time minimum wage, whether or not you actually are, and all means-tested benefits are reduced accordingly. It’s called the minimum income floor and has been waived during Covid but when it comes back in, there will be chaos. All the people who had to move onto the new style benefits (Universal Credit) will have lost their old top-up benefits (tax credits) and their overall income will drop significantly.

                1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  Here in France I was entitled to three year’s of unemployment benefit. Normally any earnings would be deducted from the benefit and the corresponding amount of time (like, my earnings were equivalent to X days) was added to my three year entitlement, but for some reason they just paid the lot. I’ve kept it in a safe place for times when I don’t have any work (during lockdown for example).

              2. Arvolin*

                In Minnesota, in 2002, the job center had classes for the unemployed, including one on starting your own business. I could stay on unemployment while starting up, although money I earned would be deducted from my benefits.

          2. Eva Luna*

            In my state UI benefits are taking literally months to process, more if there is any sort of glitch or the employer contests. I filed at the end of July and started a new job this week, and have yet to receive a penny or any indication of when my application will be adjudicated. Luckily I have savings and an employed spouse, but I really feel for the people who have no safety net.

        2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

          In NYS, you can be approved for a UI program for people starting new businesses. Not eligible for any UI extensions, but you can keep UI AND any business income while in the program.
          You have to be approved, and there’s some business development tasks to accomplish, but a good way to transition if you’re eligible for UI.
          Your state may vary, but scour the website for it.

      2. RC Rascal*

        Depends on the state. Mine encourages part time and consulting employment. In mine if she had a valid unemployment claim she would stop filing while she is consulting and then renew the claim when the consulting work ended. My state gives her the entire benefit year to use the claim.

        The caveat is she has to meet work search requirements while she is collecting.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          This is an interesting sub-thread! I want to stress that if someone is actively building their freelance/consulting setup, that’s a whole different beast. I see above it requires paperwork and tracking, that makes complete sense. It’s all about the “show them you’re actively working towards making money in some fashion.” and not necessarily actively working to get back on a W2 setup.

        2. Black Horse Dancing*

          Years ago, in MI, you claimed by weeks, two weeks at a time. If you temped one week, you could ‘not claim’ that week and just claim the week you didn’t work. Or claim the few hours you worked and realize it got deducted (if you earned 100/week for p/t work, you simply told the UI portal what you earned.)

    2. It's me the OP I'm alive*

      I want to thank you for bringing this up. While not a concern for me, another colleague who resigned shortly after I did also offered generous notice…and was promptly shown the door. It was a disgrace. I shared this info with them and I hope it helps.

  3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I clinched. This is somewhat of a flashback for me, less time dumped into the job than a decade thank God.

    This person is unreasonable and is spiraling, you can’t fix it, it’s not you, it’s 100% them.

    As soon as you’re shot down to be spoken to in a respectful manner, you resort to doing it in writing. That’s how I quit my toxic dump of a job. I was like “I’d much rather have done this with a conversation but you’ve left me no choice, here’s my notice, my last day is X.” Then leave because that’s a powder keg it sounds like. Tuck and roll, Ponyboy!

    I’m sorry it boiled down to this. It happens when businesses are death spiraling and the boss is a loose cannon. Loose cannons can often be downright fun when you’re on their good side but damn, when the cannon swivels and points at you, it’s seriously time to find cover and preserve yourself the best you can. I’m so sorry this happened to you. You will most likely have some shellshock afterwards as well, it takes time, please remember that.

    1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      This. OP, you are asking how to hold up your side of the social contract. You can’t. It’s been dissolved by your boss.

      You are not even asking about how to get a reference, how to answer when future employers ask about him, because you know he is the origin of this dumpster fire of a company. So don’t.

      You resign by resigning, to him and concurrently to your coworkers, with an email telling them you will have more information about your last day and finalizing projects shortly.

      And you shake this off like the crap teacher you had in junior high who didn’t know his subject and wasted everyone’s time yelling at the same two kids…

    2. RC Rascal*

      It also can happen in remote offices of very large organizations. Boss in small remote location feels like he owns the place does whatever he feels like.

      I’ve actually had 2 bosses stop speaking to me over the course of my career. Both were highly controlling, passive aggressive men who were losing control of their lives and looking for someone to take it out on. Also, both had major issues with women. (One was going through personal turmoil and wife was leaving him, the other was running the division into the ground and boinking the VP of HR while customers wrote him hate mail. Fun times).

    3. It's me the OP I'm alive*

      I really appreciate these words—you nailed it. The cannon blast of misdirected rage, followed by icy silence? Not my favorite experience. But a lesson, to be sure. Thank you for seeing me.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        I feel like your story could easily have been my history at a former company. Luckily I was only there 4 years (as opposed to your decade) and had a job lined up before I jumped ship, but there’s a lot of similarities!

        My boss was avoiding me while his company was sinking. I went to his office one day and sat down uninvited and basically said, “We NEED to figure this out.” I actually wasn’t planning on resigning for another month and I didn’t want to leave my coworkers in shambles. He turned to me and said, “I just don’t know what do with you.” Like somehow all of it was my fault. So I gave him my resignation right then and there. I told him I’d stay another 2 weeks to transition my projects to other salespeople, but he told me to leave and never come back.

        Two months later he fired everyone in the company. He was drowning and debit and couldn’t afford to pay them anymore. It was about 2 weeks before Christmas when they all lost their jobs. I was so upset for them, but glad that I had jumped ship when I did!!! Good luck to you, OP!

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It was absolutely horrifying when this happened to me and I feel deeply empathetic to you. But we all survived. And now we laugh at that dimwitted nincompoop of a “boss”.

        It’s kind of like you are riding along in the car and you have a wheel blow out, you didn’t even hit anything and you just feel the car jerk from underneath you. You will heal from this.

  4. Megan*

    Ooof. I can’t wait for this update.

    “Make sure you cc HR if you have it and/or your boss’s boss.” Yes, and if it isn’t explicitly against company policy, be sure to somehow forward or bcc yourself on your non-work email so you have a copy of it! You don’t want evidence that you did everything you were supposed to disappear when your boss turns off your company email.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      OP can save the email to her desktop and then open a window in her web browser to login to her personal email account, then just send herself an email from said personal account with the email saved to the desktop attached. This way, she doesn’t have to worry about company policy regarding forwarding work emails to personal accounts.

      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        if you can’t open other email on your work computer (it’s blocked at my place), take a screen shot.
        and does boss have an assistant, or second in command? CC them.
        Hey, he changed the rules, you are just trying to navigate them.

    2. Artemesia*

      Do this absolutely. I’d print a copy too. And be sure you have absolutely moved everything you want home before you do this including carefully review what is on your computer and make copies of anything you will need or want. Start taking things home a book, mug or plant at a time. Maybe leave the plant till last. LOL

      1. Tidewater 4-1009*

        The main thing that brought Theranos down was an email printout that was smuggled out under a male employee’s shirt.
        I think OP should absolutely find a way to save the email for their personal records, as well as any other pertinent info. If there are policies or barriers, work around them. Protecting yourself comes first, OP!

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I hate to admit this …but you weren’t the only one. And I read it as the male employees skirt. Not shirt.

          2. KayDeeAye*

            Since we’re confessing stuff, I initially read it as “Thermos.” “Oh, no!” I thought. “Is there a scandal involving Thermos that I’ve missed somewhere along the line?”

            Now, Theranos…I know about that one. When reading, it’s important to pay attention to *all* the letters.

            1. Tidewater 4-1009*

              I happened to have the book from the library when the shut down happened. So I read it twice.
              I’ve always been good about saving documentation to protect myself, and this story completely justified that. :)

            2. Kurtz*

              I read it as Thermos too, while sitting and enjoying a nice Thai lunch. I nearly spit my Thai iced tea up my nose with laughter! Which is not a fun sensation when you’re eating larb…

            3. SweetestCin*

              This is just proving that meme about how your brain “picks” a word based on the first two or three, and last two or three, letters, isn’t it?

              I saw Thanos myself, wondered what the what I’d missed in the universe.

          1. Beany*

            Nebula, complaining about constantly being undermined by comparisons with her “work sister”, who was obviously the boss’s favorite.

            1. Alice's Rabbit*

              Meanwhile Gamora writes in because she’s sick of having her abusive boss pitting her head-to-head against her coworkers, loaning her services out to shady corporate partners, and having to pick up Nebula’s slack. Also she’s pretty sure her boss’s business is unethical, if not outright illegal.

    3. Observer*

      This is one of the very few cases where I would say “who cares about company policy”. e-mail your resignation, even if you have the confirmation, and absolutely to bcc your non-work email.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I would agree with that. OP’s resigning, and with a boss as toxic as this one I don’t think they expect to use them as a reference anyway. So there’s really nothing the company can do to them for failing to comply with policy at this point. All OP can do is make sure their ducks are in a row before they start the process.

        1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

          Yes, because it’s policy, not law. OP clearly does not have contract, so really, what’s the problem?

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You don’t need to send the resignation email using your company email.

      I have always used my personal email for resignations. I mean if you’re worried he’s going to have your email, you can block him later if he tries to be weird with it. But then you have a papertrail without needing to rely on work resources and policies.

      1. Alice's Rabbit*

        Or just use a burner email address. I have one that I give out for rewards programs and other potential spam centers. I don’t check it, and only send emails from there to people who don’t need my main email address.

    5. Mayor of Llamatown*

      THIS. Before you send the resignation, save anything you need to save, remove anything from your office that you wouldn’t want to lose. Even if you don’t have a boss who won’t talk to you (!), this is good practice, just in case they decide it’s best for you to leave immediately.

  5. Anonymous Educator*

    This reminds me of that Seinfeld episode, where George wants to break up with Moira, explains all his reasons they should break up, and she’s like “I’ve heard all your reasons, and… no.” I think he likens it (or Jerry does?) to two people on a submarine who have to turn their keys at the same time to authorize deploying a nuclear weapon. And then he keeps trying to break up with her and yells in frustration “Turn your key, Moira. Turn your key!”

    You don’t need a partner’s permission to break up if you want to break up.

    You also don’t need a boss’s permission to leave if you’re quitting your job.

    It may be awkward. Your boss may try especially to make it awkward, but just do it. Alison’s advice is solid.

    1. RecentAAMfan*

      It’s also like the one where George realizes his very attractive girlfriend wants to break up with him, but he’s dying to bring her as his date to a big work event, so he just avoids her, figuring if she can’t reach him, she can’t break up with him!
      Maybe that’s what OP’s boss is attempting.
      There’s a Seinfeld episode (or two) for everything!!

      1. I Need a User Name*

        George’s Soon-to-Be-Ex Girlfriend (the pianist): “I am breaking up with you!”
        George “You can’t break up with me! I have hand!”
        George’s Ex, without missing a beat: “And you’re going to need it!”
        Best Seinfeld Breakup Scene.

    2. boop the first*

      Heh, yeah, I think I originally misinterpreted the question because my immediate response was “uh… just stop going?”

  6. Paperwhite*

    Passenger pigeon? Cuneiform tablet? Candygram?

    To be serious for a moment, LW, I am so sorry your boss is being this ridiculous and that a job you loved soured so badly. One benefit of written communication, at least, is that you can save it and have a record. All good luck.

    1. Steveo*

      I really like the person who resigned with a “Sorry For Your Loss” card – that would be an interesting approach with an already unhinged boss.

        1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

          That headline pops up on occasion. I read it as “resigned C.O.D.”
          Thanks, KTel records and tapes* for putting THAT worthless acronym in my 8 year old head.

          *and 8 Track!

    2. It's me the OP I'm alive*

      Ha – look at what you started in these replies. A mess! Thank you for the artful balance of levity and compassion. Truly appreciated.

  7. Dust Bunny*

    Your boss sounds like a nightmare. Like, I’d worry that this was a medical issue-type nightmare, because this is really off the rails. Which isn’t relevant to your needing to quit, just . . . this is really spectacular but not in a good way.

    There isn’t going to be a neat, clean, way to get out of here. What Allison said is the best you can do.

    1. Miss Muffet*

      I had the same thought – this kind of rapid change in personality really could indicate something medical (at least that’s what the relationship-advice columnists would all say, I think!)

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      I had the same thought about the boss’s behavior since the OP didn’t mention this kind of erratic behavior taking place before all those people started quitting – but maybe OP just didn’t see it until now? I don’t know.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Mental breakdowns are real and often linked to extreme stress.

      However I found out after the fact that my previous boss was always nasty and flipped on a dime. I just didn’t know because it was never directed in a way that I had seen before until the snake came out of the box in my direction. Sometimes people are able to contain their personality traits that suck until they lose control.

      1. Anon for this*

        I could have written OP’s letter. I went through a very similar situation years ago when our CEO’s wife left him. He was shattered and not only did it trash his personal life, it pretty damn near ruined our company.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yes. I saw someone literally destroy their career [very early on into the career, so no cushion for “oh Vivian just flipped a switch…what happened?!” style] because of a long term relationship breaking up in one of those explosive ways. So trauma of any kind, personal or professional can pull the pin out of that human grenade.

          1. It's me the OP I'm alive*

            That’s exactly it and part of why it’s been so difficult—on one hand, I *know* it’s extreme stress coupled with a triggering personal event, which is awful. We live in a difficult, indifferent world and it’s no small feat to keep a cool head through tough times, especially while running a small struggling business in a pandemic. I still have a lot of compassion for what they’ve been dealing with, *and* a lot of anger about how they seem to be fine burning down the building with my co-workers still in it. Turns out several things can be true at once. Wild.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              To borrow from aviation (in the former world where airplane travel was possible and common):
              “Out on your own respirator mask before assisting others around you”

              The point of this being you have to take care of yourself in order to be able to help others. OP, good for you in taking the steps to take care of yourself – now if needed you can help other coworkers there if needed.

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                Sorry – that should read “Put on”

                (Note to self: posting from a mobile with a migraine is a recipe for typos.)

            2. Observer*

              All of that could be true. But, it’s also that they have a really big nasty streak. Someone who “joke fires” people is not nice at their core. And doing that IN FRONT OF CLIENTS is beyond “not nice”.

            3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              The entire world is in this situation, we’re all suffering to varying degrees.

              I have people who had to wait for FOUR MONTHS to get their unemployment checks. Depend on family and face homelessness. Nobody has resorted to being a petty tyrant jackhole like this person you’re dealing with. Just something to keep in mind if you’re checking back in the future for more comments.

              We have all been traumatized in some way for some reason and how we react to it is crucial to our survival long term. You stay humble, you stay kind to those who are around you and haven’t done at hing to hurt you personally. Don’t lash out at the people who care.

              I’ve been angry AF before, I’ve seen a friend break their hand when they were grieving for a loved one who had died [punching a brick wall]. That friend never touched a human and just turned to the humans around them to be held when they were breaking down. Because they aren’t truly dark inside, like some jackholes out there can be.

    4. Zelda*

      Reading this letter, I was reminded of a startup my brother used to work for– the founder/owner gor more and more erratic and difficult to work with, until it was revealed that he had been cooking the books to fund a raging cocaine habit. There’s “stressed the heck out by the pandemic,” and then there’s this person.

    5. Observer*

      Maybe, but this is also not THAT quick of a change, so it could be that he’s just handling the issues with the business REALLY poorly and is spiraling downward.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      The most telling line for me was this: “ When COVID hit, we hit rock bottom. The boss didn’t take it seriously — we had to organize ourselves and insist, as a group, that we could not come into the office. It went poorly.”

      That tells me quite enough about this boss, their beliefs, their slide into instability and why. Same with the anti-vax, anti-mask “Nurse” from the other letter yesterday. There is a sad and sick minded CULT running amok in America. And it has become dangerous to anyone not in it or following its sad and demented “leader” and conspiracy laden, anti-science ideology.

      1. Tidewater 4-1009*

        Denial stopped working and he had to acknowledge reality, maybe for the first time in his life.

      2. SQL Coder Cat*

        Honestly, it is dangerous to those in the cult too. Not believing in COVID doesn’t keep you from dying from it.

        1. allathian*

          True, but I’m afraid I don’t give a damn if they die. Better for the world if they do. I do worry that some COVID denier will make people I care about sick, and make it harder to access healthcare services.

    7. Dust Bunny*

      “Over the last two years, my boss has become increasingly erratic, quick-tempered, and secretive.” That could still be organic/medical. But it could be stress. Or drugs. Or personal problems behind the scenes, too.

      I mean, it doesn’t matter why the boss is losing it, though, the LW still needs to get the heck out.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Generally, problems this severe have more than one accelerator. It can be hard to see what is at the bottom.

        But OP you have all the information you need right now to make your choices and finalize your choice.
        Personally, I thought you were done a while ago, but now you are really, really done here. I wonder if an argument could be made that because the boss refuses to speak to you that you actually do not have a job anymore.

  8. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    Email. CC HR & your grandboss.

    “I am grateful for the opportunity to have been of service. My last day of availability is October 31, 2020, and my consulting rate after that is $XYZ/hour.”

    1. Dancing Otter*

      Yes! +1000

      And make $XYZ high enough to make yourself happy to take their calls instead of resentful.

      I’m not saying you should leave without any knowledge transfer, but don’t knock yourself out if the boss doesn’t value it enough to communicate.

  9. Steveo*

    Once I read “we’re a family” I knew the rest of this would be a full on train derailment. Please everyone be wary of hearing or saying that.

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Same here. 9 out of 10 families I know are mild-to-highly dysfunctional, so ‘We’re FAMILY here!’ isn’t reassuring.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Interviewer: “We’re like a family here.”
        Sola: “Thanks for the warning…”

  10. voyager1*

    Did the boss say what behavior requires an apology? That is such a weird thing to say. Does the boss know the remaining staff have all been talking about stuff? The boss may feel y’all are turning on her.

    I would just get out though. Good luck.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      I’m assuming it’s because of what the OP said, “As I’ve become more vocal about my discomfort and desire for increased transparency and healthier communication, others have as well.”

      The boss can’t accept the criticism. And probably does feel like the staff is turning against them! Instead of addressing it, they’re hiding out.

      1. voyager1*

        Yeah that is definitely a reasonable read of the word behavior too. I read it to mean the LW’s actions or perceived actions.

        But the boss is acting like a child about it all and in the end it is time for the LW to move on.

      2. Observer*

        Well, the staff IS turning against him. But that’s because they are turning against a boss that is increasingly impossible to work with.

        /sarc on
        But OF COURSE none of this is HIS fault – it’s all OP.
        /sarc off

      3. Not So NewReader*

        OP, my wise friend used to say, you can tell how close you are to the truth by how big the reaction is to what you say.

        I hope you are whistling “take this job and….” all the way out to your car on your final day.

        My husband preferred Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus on the car radio so he could sing the hallulujah’s very loudly. He felt that his targeted person would not “get it” if the person happened to see him leave. ymmv.

  11. Fiona the Baby Hippo*

    I’ve noticed in relationship columns that the more people preface “I LooOooooove my husband and he is the most amazing man in the world” the worse the twist is going to be. And I’ve started noticing it on AMA with jobs too! It makes me so sad how many people are stuck with horrible bosses and toxic work places yet have to convince themselves they like it. I hope with distance comes clarity.

    1. MK*

      I think it’s also possible that people are more likely to stay in unhealthy situations if there are some amazing aspects to it. Or/and, that when there is some big draw, like really interesting work or a great mission, managers know they can get away with a lot, because there will always be people willing to replace those that leave.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Yes, I put up with my narcissist boss (who also nearly ran the business into the ground after his wife left him) simply because there were no other opportunities in my field apart from freelancing, which I was not comfortable with until I got my masters degree. Doing the job you love is important, and I had some really wonderful colleagues – most of whom still work in the industry and send me work now that I am freelancing

      2. Luke*

        One reason worth mentioning is tenure- if the narcissistic boss is hinting at or on the cusp of retiring, the staff might decide to wait for the problem to leave the building.

        Unfortunately, the bosses I’ve seen like this usually view work is an essential part of their identity, and thus rarely leave of their own volition.

    2. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      I think it is added because people automatically feel that a failing/failed relationship is their fault. Like, “I picked the wrong person.”
      Also, there’s a feeling that you have to be “fair,” since you are only presenting one side.
      “He’s a great dad, it’s just…”
      “She’s great, educated, professional, it’s just that…”
      …insert socially abhorrent behavior here.

    3. AGD*

      I wonder about this too. Maybe some element of culturally expected gratitude to avoid coming across as spoiled or perpetually dissatisfied. As with personal relationships, it’s a problem when it gets to the point of undermining “I deserve better than this.”

    4. TootsNYC*

      They think of the bad things as the aberration, instead of as the norm.

      My husband often complains when life gets difficult: “why can’t it be pleasant?” I keep telling him: the default setting of life is “difficult” (not “crappy,” but “difficult”); when things are really great, that’s the high, not the norm.

      1. allathian*

        I’m so sorry, you must have a pretty miserable life if you think difficult is the default… Or maybe I’ve just been extremely lucky so far, which is entirely possible. Thanks to this blog and others, I do realize that I speak from a place of privilege: I’m a white, cishet, middle-aged, neurotypical, college-educated, married woman with one child. I grew up in a stable and loving home and I’ve never experienced significant financial hardship or serious health issues. I also live in a country with single-payer health insurance, reasonable political leadership that takes COVID seriously, and far better employee’s rights than is the case in the US. I also work for the government and while no job is ever totally safe, mine’s about as safe as it gets. I have about 20 years left until retirement and I can see myself retiring from my current job, unless technological developments make it obsolete, and if so, I can adapt and do something else (I hope!). That doesn’t mean that I haven’t ever faced any challenges or had any problems, just that so far, I’ve managed to overcome them without too much trouble.

        For me, the default setting of life is neither particularly pleasant nor particularly difficult, just life with its highs and lows.

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          To use gamer terminology, you’re playing on one of the easier game settings. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have challenges with life, just that you said life isn’t difficult and then listed a plethora of obstacles that are removed from or never present in your own life.

          1. allathian*

            Agreed. A trans* POC will probably have a very different baseline for life. At least my right to exist isn’t questioned by someone every time I walk out the door…

    5. AcademiaNut*

      Also, people who love their husbands and jobs, and have healthy supportive husbands and jobs, aren’t writing into advice columns about them.

      I’ve seen these letters referred to as “Sir Mix-A-Lot Letters”. Because there’s always a big but.

      1. anonymous 5*

        oh my. I will now think of that every time I see one. Which will in turn give me an earworm every time!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I see a good number of people stay because of their strong friendships.

      I’d like to point out that if you don’t have a toxic job you don’t need a wolf pack of good friends surrounding you. Years ago, it took me a bit to realize this. Some of the friendships formed in a toxic place are based on the need to protect each other. So in all likelihood there will be a strong bond. That unusually strong bond would not form in a healthy work place as there is no need for it.

      My old boss used to say that 2 closers at night got more work done than 3 closers and he could not figure out why. That is because the 2 closers had to protect each other- there was not enough help and if they missed something yelling would follow. So they would work to protect each other from the yelling and the snide remarks.

      1. Fiona the baby hippo*

        Wow the Wolfpack mentality is such a good point. I am actually quite close to former coworkers from a hellish workplace and frequently we say “the people at (new job) are fine but nothing like y’all!” Probably bc we’re not needing to cling to them to survive!!

      2. Batty Twerp*

        Hubby Twerp and my best friend met through their toxic workplace. They worked together for three years, and the fire-forged friendship they formed has been so strong, that that’s how *I* met *her*. And we’re so close that we’re auntie & uncle to her kids. They’ve both been *away* from that workplace for seven years and it’s *still* a topic of conversation when we meet up.

    7. Batgirl*

      Bad bosses and bad partners put a lot of work upfront and at regular intervals into gaining your loyalty/favour sharking/brain washing.

  12. Jen*

    Just do it! If they won’t listen, leave the resignation letter on their desk!
    When I graduated college I held down 2 jobs for a while until an opportunity came along (graduating in 2011 left a lot to be desired in the job market). My retail boss that I had worked for for 8 years started avoiding me like the plague. He would not be alone in the office with me, talk with my personally or anything. I quit on a post it on the team calendar. In hindsight not the best thing to do but I wanted to discuss staying on the books for some weekend time if they needed me (I was 3rd in command and both of my bosses wives were expecting children SOON). When he literally refused to talk to me, I put up a post it “resignation” and unceremoniously turned in my keys after 8 years of service (the girl who was there for the summer got a cake….).

    1. amy*

      Ahhh 2011, the job market that people like to forget about when looking at your CV and asking “why haven’t you been working in the field for the past 9 years?”

        1. Jen*

          Lol yes more or less “last day is May 5, sorry!”
          I gave 2 weeks notice but I might as well not have. Tried to do the right thing but 23 year old me didn’t really know how to quit a job and got frustrated. My next resignation netted me a hug and crying so I like to think my professional karma is balanced :)

  13. Betsy*

    I left a bad job after years of mistreatment several years ago, they suddenly wanted me to stay another month, and it was The Worst Month.

    Screw convention. Resign, effective immediately.

  14. Dave*

    I would time my resignation to get an extra month of insurance if I was on the company plan. If you wait till the first of the month you may get to keep your coverage for October.
    Best of luck navigating this. You are making me feel better about my dysfunctional workplace. Sure my boss won’t tell people what their jobs are (as in won’t clarify job descriptions or who has final say on major project items), but at least they tell me to work that out with my co-worker at the same level.

    1. TootsNYC*

      excellent point–I forgot that.

      I mentioned applying for replacement insurance ASAP, but this is a great move.

  15. Wordnerd*

    I clicked on “surprise me” a few times waiting for the next post (slow day at the office) and came across the “my boss tapes our mouths in meetings” post. This one seems not that far from that!!

      1. Observer*

        That’s a perfect example of the “My boss is great except for” being the precursor to “Run! Run like the wind from that house of horrors!” bad.

          1. It's me the OP I'm alive*

            Oh my god. It never got this bad (I don’t think?) BUT…
            the boss used to love joke-firing people (including in front of clients).

            Took me 3 years of whisper-soft push-back to break them of the habit; we were all so relieved when it finally stopped. But then everything else fell apart. Maybe that was the one thing holding the boss together: threatening people’s livelihoods for giggles. I know this should have been a red flag.

            1. virago*

              Yikes! If this workplace was a “family,” it was probably like one in a ghastly fairytale where the parents left the kids in the woods as soon as they could walk and made them forage for food to survive.

              You are making the right decision. (Not that I think you’re having any doubts.)

            2. Observer*

              Good heavens!

              What this tells me is that the people who were wondering if the problem with his behavior could be linked to deeper problems. Wonder no more – The answer is YES. The deeper problem being that this is a person who is deeply, deeply nasty.

  16. Jules the 3rd*

    OP, a letter on their desk / an email is fine.

    If you’re worried about your co-workers, spend a day writing down all that you can. Then find a co-worker who’s near your seniority and likely to stay, and spend a couple of hours working with them on your ‘backup plan’, the one you’re putting in place in case you get sick.

    1. Bilateralrope*

      Nah. If the business doesn’t give the letter writer time to transition out, that’s their problem.

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        But this would be for the benefit of the co-workers, whom it sounds like the OP really likes. Survivor’s guilt is real.

    2. Mannheim Steamroller*

      Also, make sure that YOU control the news about your departure. Inform your co-workers as soon as you give notice — either blind-copy them on your official notice email, or write a separate message and send it immediately after sending the official one.

  17. Colorado*

    Dan Savage just stated in a post last night, “we do not need someone’s consent to leave them”. This reminded me of that. I would send an email to boss, boss boss, and HR with a 2 week resignation. You’re boss probably still wont talk to you, so complete your 2 weeks and peace out. But please give us an update!!

    1. It's me the OP I'm alive*

      Can you imagine, if that sentiment was hard-coded into our brains? Update below. Let the healing begin.

  18. Q without U*

    You may want to immediately notify your coworkers once you resign. I know normally it’s best to let the boss do it, but you don’t want them to “forget” to notify your coworkers, or even claim that you resigned with no notice.

    I’m sorry you’re in this situation. This sucks.

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I lived through this scenario, too. From then on, I let my team and select colleagues know I resigned, and that I wasn’t frog-marched out of the building.

    2. Ama*

      Yeah, I had to give four weeks notice at my last job in order to get my vacation payout and although my immediate department knew, the big bosses somehow waited until two and a half of those weeks had passed to let anyone else know I was leaving.

      I also made sure everyone on my team got a copy of the reference documents I left behind because I had a senior colleague on my team who I suspected would pretend I’d never given her any of it if I didn’t make it clear I had cc’d everyone.

  19. Teapot Librarian*

    The office IS like a family–a dysfunctional one! We had a bit of a “you know what you did” situation a few generations back that this tale of woe reminded me of. Good luck, OP!

  20. AKchic*

    Is there anyone above this boss? I think that boss should be cc’d in the email you write too. And make sure you mention “since you’ve told me that you aren’t going to talk to me until I “apologize for my behavior” without telling me what behavior that is, and have refused to speak to any of our department; I am having to serve you notice in this fashion” and let the chips fall where they may.

    I would also consider letting your coworkers know ahead of time that you’re putting your notice in (maybe 30 minutes head’s up) just in case your boss does melt down and demand you leave immediately. If you are back in-office, take everything personal from your office days before you actually turn in your notice. Get as much prepped for a hand-over as possible.
    If the company/department has survived 10+ people leaving already, odds are that this place is a sinking ship. I hope everyone else is able to get into a life raft quickly.

    1. It's me the OP I'm alive*

      You + me both pal. The boss is the founder, matter of fact, so it’s been “my way or the highway” for a mighty long time. Too long, perhaps, for any hope of repair. The coworkers have been wonderful, it hurts my heart to leave ’em, but I know just how talented and deserving they are, and just how much they’re underpaid. I hope when they’re ready to make their own moves, they find the support they need. I know I have. Thank you for the perspective.

  21. Jennifer*

    Wow, that’s like kindergarten level immature. Just put it in an email and be done with it. I’d put RESIGNATION in big bold letters in the subject line. I agree with previous suggestions to take care of any health issues you may have while you have insurance.

    I wonder if your boss is…okay? It’s really not anyone’s business if his health is in decline, I guess, but maybe give HR a heads up if you have one.

    1. D3*

      I wondered about dementia and mental health as well, having seen those processes in family members. But ultimately, that’s not relevant to how to handle the situation.

    2. virago*

      OP (weighing in as “It’s me the OP I’m alive”) has said that their boss likes to “joke-fire” employees in front of clients. So this round of the silent treatment sounds not like an aberration but like innate petulance and mean-spiritedness.

    1. Jennifer*

      Yeah, exchange personal contact info if you want to stay in touch BEFORE you resign because he might immediately kick you out of the company network as soon as you email your notice. But even though she cares about her coworkers it’s ultimately their decision if they want to stay or go. They have to do what’s best for them and so does the OP.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Seriously. They’ll probably feel more empowered to jump ship as well if you do. After I left, everyone was gone within another year.

    3. Niktike*

      I once heard that from a fantastic coworker when we worked at a super toxic place. My response was “Go, for the love of god, go!” I couldn’t get out myself at the time, but I did NOT want to be responsible for him being stuck.

  22. Sara without an H*

    Your boss is erratic, you’ve gone from a staff of 18 to 8 in two years, no PTO, no raises, and a corrupt salary structure? OP, you may love the work and your coworkers, but this organization is not long for this world. Your urge to flee is a healthy one.

    I agree that it’s very likely that your boss will fire you on the spot, so plan in advance for that. Document as much of your work as possible, then either put a print out in a folder, or save a copy on a shared drive where your coworkers can get to it.

    You might also want to line up coworkers or other contacts who can act as references for you, just in case you decide you want another job while your free lance business is getting off the ground.

    Good luck, and please send us an update.

    1. It's me the OP I'm alive*

      Thank you. It’s long felt like a sinking ship and, for too long, I fought hard against that possibility. Alas, we can only do so much.

      While I didn’t get fired on the spot, another coworker who gave notice around the same time was shoved out the door well ahead of their requested end date. It was jarring and awful to witness, and also confirmed what I already knew: this place sucks.

      References secured. Knowledge transfer underway. And I think, I really do, I’m going to be alright.

      1. Sara without an H*

        You’re right, you could only do so much, and it sounds like you did it. No use continuing to bail when you really need to get into a life boat.

        Best of luck to you, and keep us posted.

  23. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    I think I would try one last time to contact the boss. If they won’t pick up the phone, try setting up a meeting. If they decline or don’t show up, I would contact HR directly*, explain that you are resigning and that your boss has made it impossible to talk to them. That way you’ve exhausted all efforts with boss before going to HR. I wouldn’t even bother to email the boss unless HR says you need to do that to make it official. And if all of this fails, send an email and peace out of there. Good luck OP!

    *I might start with grand boss if you think it can be resolved with them.

    1. virago*

      Bad Boss is founder of the company, OP said in an update, so escalating the resignation wouldn’t help.

      In another update, OP sent an email requesting a meeting. When they resigned, they were asked to stay for an couple weeks beyond the notice period and agreed to do so for a negotiated high freelance contract rate. (Yay!!!!)

      The whole comment is excellent; OP has weighed in as “It’s me the OP I’m alive.”

  24. Ann Ominous Today*

    I am wishing you the best, LW!

    I recently left a similarly bad situation after comparing notes with the person who held my position before me. My boss refused to come into the office because of COVID, did not give me their phone number, and declined all requests for Zoom or Skype meetings. Email was my only option. I contacted my references first to let them know what was up, and they said “Are you OK financially? Just get out.” One told me their experience and noted that my situation was likely to get worse over time.

    I sent my email to my boss, bcc’d HR, and offered to discuss my resignation in a virtual meeting. They declined. I relayed that info to my grand boss at HR’s request and wrapped up all the things my boss requested. My boss was exceedingly professional for the duration of my notice.

    1. TootsNYC*

      I contacted my references first to let them know what was up, and they said “Are you OK financially? Just get out.” One told me their experience and noted that my situation was likely to get worse over time.

      I just want to highlight there.
      There are many people who have used me as a reference over the years. ANY ONE OF THEM could call me and ask for advice at any time. No matter how long ago it was that they worked with or for me.
      I don’t have a formal mentorship relationship with them, but I absolutely would offer advice in any situation. I think highly of them; they have my goodwill.

      So as you try to figure out next steps, don’t overlook those people.

  25. L.H. Puttgrass*

    Boss: “Until you apologize for how you’ve been behaving, I have nothing to say to you.”
    You: “I don’t need you to say anything. I just need you to listen: I resign.”

    Okay, you might want to be a bit less blunt than that. But you might not…

  26. LTL*

    “until I apologize for how I’ve been behaving, they have nothing to say to me”

    My ex-husband used to say this to me. I have zero tolerance for this sort of behavior now. I’d be so tempted to email the boss “I completely understand that don’t wish to speak. Out of respect for your wishes, I thought an email would be more appropriate. I will be resigning. As you have nothing to say to me, I will be leaving immediately” and walk out the door (don’t do this)

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I had the silent treatment used on me growing up.
      Interesting thing about the silent treatment, during that quiet time the targeted person is figuring out how to do life WITHOUT the silent person. I learned to need them less and less and less….
      It’s probably not the lesson the silent person intended the targeted person to learn.

      So it goes, OP. You learned how to do life without this job.

      1. LTL*

        OMG yes. It’s hell when it’s happening but ironically, it makes it so much easier to put down boundaries later.

  27. Lilyp*

    Be prepared for your boss to ask you to leave immediately but ALSO be prepared to get pressured to stay a longer or indefinite notice period. Get clear in your head before you make the announcement on how long of a notice period you’d be willing to work if asked (I strongly recommend going with an upper limit of two weeks, four at the absolute max) and be prepared to stick to your guns on that. Also if you do work out a notice period be prepared for escalating abuse + pressure to stay longer, and be prepared to walk out if YOU decide that it isn’t workable. Accept now that you will not be able to perfectly transfer all your specialized knowledge or solve all the problems or train a replacement or set up every relationship up for future success during your notice period; that’s not what a notice period is for. Do your best to document & plan within a reasonable work week and let the rest go.

    1. It's me the OP I'm alive*

      So much excellent advice here, and much of it I wish I’d waited to get before making my move. But I’m glad I made it, I’m stuck a little longer than I’d like to be but the end is in sight.

      Really appreciate the straight talk… “Accept now that you will not be able to perfectly transfer all your specialized knowledge or solve all the problems or train a replacement or set up every relationship up for future success during your notice period; that’s not what a notice period is for. Do your best to document & plan within a reasonable work week and let the rest go.”

      I needed to hear this.

      1. Lilyp*

        I’m glad you’re getting out and moving on! If you haven’t read it already I suspect this post could be useful for mentally preparing for your notice period:

        Also don’t forget that your company has had choices about how to handle documentation, cross-training, contingency plans, etc for the whole time you’ve worked there. If they chose not to invest time in any of that then *they chose* to take on the risk of major business interruptions if something ever happened to you. It is not your fault or your responsibility if there is a ten-year backlog of that stuff now.

        May all the dysfunction roll off your back like water off a duck now, cuz you’re free! <3

      2. the once and future grantwriter*

        OP, for what it’s worth, try not to feel too responsible for how much you are able to document or verbally transfer to other staff. I once did 90% of the grantwriting for a small nonprofit for two years. When I left, I reorganized all my grant files, updated our deliverable reports and auto-updating grant calendar, wrote a 4-page document with topline information for our grant deadlines, passwords to grantmaker report accounts, and all the research I’d done on future grant opportunities. I then emailed all that information to the director, associate director, operations manager, and relevant department heads. When I caught up with them a couple weeks later in a social context, they told me they just threw out most of my files because they were too complicated. They then explained that they only like Word documents and I had used Excel for two out of the hundred plus files. You really can’t win them all (and it is absolutely possible to over-document).

  28. Elenna*


    Agreed with other posters above, draft both the email to your boss and an email to your coworkers saying something like “I’m resigning, hoping to leave on X date but if I’m required to leave earlier, there are transition plans in such-and-such a location”. Plus, y’know, typical goodbye stuff. Then send them simultaneously so you don’t have to worry about being locked out of your email.

  29. Hello*

    I had a boss that literally ignored me for a month. We would pass by each other every day and she would look past me, pretend to not hear me or see me even if I skied or said hi. It was horribly awkward and I didn’t know what to do, so I gave notice to her boss (I had already went to him about the situation and he was afraid of her..) and she continued ignoring me until I quit. After I quit she told someone that she was hurt that I didn’t say goodbye…..what?????

    1. AKchic*

      My last boss gave me a lot of silent treatment for nearly a year before I left. To the point that she never told me about her pregnancy and had just started her maternity leave when I put in my notice. Awkward time for her, but the company was big enough that it didn’t much matter. To this day, I can’t tell if it was the junior HR person or my boss that spilled the beans to my coworker about me leaving so when I got back from the meeting with the CEO and COO about my resignation, she was all over my hind end about “ditching” her and how I’d betrayed her by not telling her about my job search (I had been head hunted, and the salary was 3x what I was making there, I didn’t go looking for it). It felt like she was sniffing for information, though, so I was vague about details.

  30. Mannheim Steamroller*

    [“…you’re not responsible for saving them from themselves.”]

    Great advice for anybody anywhere.

  31. Dancing Otter*

    Does a supervisor refusing to speak to an employee constitute constructive discharge?

    If so, I should think LW would have a good case for receiving unemployment benefits.

    How does the business function, anyway, if your boss won’t speak to any of the workers? Is everything running on inertia, or is there communication happening through email and Slack? I just can’t fathom this situation.

  32. TimeTravlR*

    This kind of environment is exactly why I don’t keep personal stuff at work. If I never come back after today, I will leave behind a clip cup and some pens. It’s fine, they can have them (if I worked in OP’s environment).

    1. yup yup*

      Yup. I’m so paranoid about getting canned (it happened to me once many years ago and I still have PTSD over it) that I never leave a single personal thing in my desk/office at any job. Nothing. They can have my post it notes.

    1. virago*

      OP has weighed in (as “It’s me the OP I’m alive”)! and says that the bad boss is also the company founder. So the buck stops there.

  33. coldsassy*

    So… you expressed your desire for more and better communication from your boss DURING A PANDEMIC, boss responded by shutting themselves completely off, and is demanding that YOU apologize before they’ll speak to you at all? And is punishing you with the loss of PTO and “angry outbursts”? My goodness.

    I respect and understand your desire not to burn bridges, but you cannot work in an environment where your boss treats you like this, and since you’re ready and willing to move on, you should take the leap. I predict you will be much happier once these people are firmly in your rearview mirror.

    1. It's me the OP I'm alive*

      coldsassy and CORRECT. Your confusion and indignation here is precisely where I’d been for some time when I wrote my letter. It was a lot.

      I am moving every day toward the scene you predict and ready for the relief to flood in. Thank you for the perspective.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Absolutely critical step! When planning a possible hasty exit, always be ready to not have a chance to gather your things. And yeah, they are supposed to give your stuff back but this kind of situation you don’t want to rely on them to do the “right” thing, like ever. Save yourself and your stuff.

      I cleaned my personal stuff out before giving my resignation every time.

  34. SierraSkiing*

    The liberating thing about this situation is that no matter what you do, your boss will be mad. If you have the most perfectly courteous resignation on the planet, your boss would still be mad. Even If you never resign and stay at the company, your boss will still be mad! The only people who will be influenced by your resignation is you and your coworkers. So be as professional as you can in this hot mess, resign when you’re ready, and just… let go of your boss’s response.

    1. juliebulie*

      This is a beautiful way to look at it. If your boss will be angry no matter what you do, that’s the perfect argument for doing exactly you want!

    2. It's me the OP I'm alive*

      Agreed. This is a really refreshing and liberating perspective. A lot of “you gotta be willing to let go” coming out of these comments, and it’s something I need to tattoo on my brain. Thank you for offering.

  35. J.E.*

    I agree with the others who have said to communicate with your coworkers and get them in the loop. If your boss won’t listen, at least work out a plan with your coworkers before you leave so they have some kind of blueprint to work with. I have a feeling after you leave it won’t be long before the business goes under.

  36. TootsNYC*

    OP, also look into your state’s take on whether you must be paid for your vacation that you’ve accumulated. And it may also depend on your company’s stated policy. But have that info available. Maybe even put it in the email if it turns out they are supposed to pay you: “Per state law, my vacation payment should be…”

    And the day after your last day, apply for health insurance in your state’s marketplace. There’s often a waiting period, so get that out of the way. You might qualify for COBRA, but it’s really expensive, so make this a priority.

  37. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    Do you work for my previous boss? He wasn’t violent, but secretive and elusive. He stopped talking to me after my team leader started trash talking me behind my back. He even got angry and said “look me in the eyes!” once (it triggered an anxiety attack). I almost had to hunt him down to confirm he recieved my resignation email.

  38. hbc*

    “I asked the other day if we could have a serious check-in and they told me, verbatim, until I apologize for how I’ve been behaving, they have nothing to say to me.”

    Man, it would be tempting to tell the boss that you need to discuss your behavior and apologize. Then: “I’m sorry I pushed the issue for so long, and wish I’d realized before that the situation wasn’t going to change to meet my expectations. I’m sorry we couldn’t find a mutually acceptable working arrangement, so consider this my resignation. Can we discuss my transition plan now? I’m thinking my last day should be X.”

    And have the “official” resignation letter drafted and ready to send (to him, HR, and his boss) during the meeting, should he fly off the handle.

  39. ResignationEmail*

    I had a job a couple years ago where I was completely ignored. Not out of pettiness, but teams had been restructured several times and nobody felt responsible for me. I did no work (none at all) for a couple weeks in the hopes it would attract some attention- yes, I was THAT desperate.

    Eventually I resigned via email – carefully timed at 5:29pm – and logged off. Hooo boy were they all keen to talk to me all of a sudden! Quite eye-opening.

    Not my proudest moment, but you gotta do what you gotta do to get out of a toxic situation.

  40. Stephen!*

    Spell it out with cod, Rod
    Do an interpretive dance, Lance
    Don’t bother with a hint, Clint
    Just get yourself free!

    1. It's me the OP I'm alive*

      Box up your stuff, Gus
      You don’t need to discuss muuuuch
      Just hand off your files, Lyle,
      and get yourself free.

      (ok ok I’m doing it!)

  41. Caroline*

    The personality change, irrationality, and unreasonableness could indicate development of a neurological disorder, especially as the behaviors came on within the last two years. If the boss as a spouse, it would be a kindness to share your observations and concerns of a possible medical condition with him/her.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      No, don’t do this. It’s nobody’s business and it’s wildly over-stepping.

      They could also be doing drugs. They could be having a mental breakdown. Or they may just be a raging d-hole even though the OP hasn’t seen it before.

      1. Observer*

        Based on the additional tidbit that the OP posted, it turns out that this is not a change. And your guess about being a raging d-bag is spot on.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      No. Whatever is going on at work is probably 2-3 times as bad at home. Don’t open that can of worms, just extract yourself. People are usually on better behavior at work.

    3. Batgirl*

      Some people just up and decide to be crazy pants, even formerly logical people (and from the description of this guy’s habit of joke firings, logic has always just been a thin veneer here, waiting to break and scratch).

  42. Goldenrod*

    I had a boss like this. She was so horrible. I quit by sending an email to our departmental listserv announcing my resignation and thanking the faculty for being so wonderful to work with. I didn’t mention her at all, and I’m sure the omission was glaring. I also sent a simple, polite letter of resignation to HR, stating my 2 weeks notice (and I had talked with them about it too. They knew I was leaving because of the stinky boss).

    I worked the next 2 weeks without talking to my boss at all. On my way out, I carried my cardboard box of stuff and walked right past her sitting in her office (with the door open), saying nothing. It was amazing.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I still remember my last day, I was cut loose a couple days early. The boss couldn’t do it himself, he had someone else do it, rme. I went around hugging everyone goodbye and then picked up my purse and danced down the stairs to my car. Where I then called my new job up and told them I could start early. It was perfect for them a well, they wanted me ASAP/PDQ. I didn’t walk passed the bosses office but I certainly didn’t even say goodbye.

  43. It's me the OP I'm alive*

    Y’all. The support and the advice and the sharing of some of your own experiences—it is truly amazing and I am so grateful. It has been a challenging year to say the least, but in the last few weeks I’ve turned the corner. As I’ve shared my reservations and frustrations with a few trusted friends + former co-workers, the reaction has been unanimously “It’s about damn time, get OUT.”

    The very act of writing my letter to Alison made clear what I needed to do. That night, I read all the AAM posts about preparing to give notice. I looked up unemployment laws in my state just in case. Had two lawyer pals review my contract to help clarify the terms of my non-compete. Started connecting with former clients + collaborators on all the websites. Had a few vivid nightmares about all the casually cruel things the boss might say to me. And five days after sending this email, I quit.

    I cc’d and invited a third party to make sure my request to meet couldn’t be ignored. I kept it short, simple and impersonal. I was firm on my end date, and when they asked for more time, I negotiated a contractor rate that is twice what we’ve typically paid freelancers for a few additional weeks of work. The finish line is in sight. I’m relieved I can wrap up my work and make a smooth hand-off to the folks I’m leaving behind. And I’m doing everything I can to process the past 6 months and the emotional fall-out, because friends, I am burnt tf out. Grief, disappointment and oh, the fury. *The boss still hasn’t spoken to me.* But I’m seeing a therapist every week and realizing that even if you do everything in your power to make a thing work, that doesn’t mean it will. I think I can live with that. I tried. That’s all I could do. Time to move on.

    Some exciting things are already coming together, including with former colleagues who also walked out. We don’t quite yet know where we’re going, but it’ll be better than where we’ve been. Truly, this column has rearranged my brain and the way I think about work. I will carry all these generous, gracious words and lessons with me. Thank you all.

    1. pcake*

      OP, I’m so glad to hear you’re almost out of there!

      And congrats on negotiating the higher rate for your last few weeks – good job :)

      1. virago*

        Make sure you know the cellphone number of your soon-to-be Ex-Boss. You’ll need it in order to know who to hang up on — as soon as you’re finished with your freelance contract for the company, soon-to-be Ex-Boss will suddenly regain the power of speech and want to ask you 10 zillion asinine questions. Soon-to-be Ex-Boss will need to be reminded in no uncertain terms that a cellphone is not a leash.

    2. Lizzo*

      HOORAY!!!! Congrats on your FREEEEEEEDOMMMMMMMM!!!

      As you continue to process everything with your therapist (YAY), remember that it’s possible to feel both anger towards Boss and also pity/sadness, even though those sentiments seem at odds with each other. Also, none of what happened is your fault, and as you said, it’s not your responsibility to fix it.

      Go forth and do great things!

      1. virago*

        Boss is founder, says OP, so any attempt on OP’s part to have escalated their resignation would have been for naught.

        OP has provided updates and said that they sent an email requesting a meeting where they submitted their resignation, were asked to work for a couple of extra weeks, and negotiated a high freelance contract rate for that time. (Yay!!!!) The OP’s comment is worth reading; the OP weighed in as “It’s me the OP I’m alive.”

    3. Observer*

      *The boss still hasn’t spoken to me.*

      If you ever have a shred of doubt that you did the right thing, remember this. No matter how bad things get, this was a ship that was both burning and sinking.

    4. Massive Dynamic*

      OP, you seem like a very classy and professional person. I’m glad that your exit from this horrible boss is in the works. Best of luck to you and also your other former colleagues with whom you may end up creating a new opportunity!

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m grateful for this update! I am sorry you’re still struggling but it gets better. I said it before and I’ll continue to say it. It gets better.

      I’m shook that this was a CONTRACT arrangement as well, I of course automatically assume it’s US based. I would have just pulled the rug right up, wrapped myself up in it and throw myself down the stairs on my way out to make sure it was an extra dramatic “Ef this” departure.

      I gave two weeks on my former job that pulled this nonsense. I didn’t build up any documents because nobody asked for them. It was my original plan to have a full manual built but I wasn’t given that chance, given my extensive work schedule of things that had to be prioritized. I regret nothing.

      I’m so excited that you have a great network around you. You’re too good for that place, you always were. Classic they didn’t know what they had and they didn’t care, so he just threw the baby away with the bath water.

  44. MBK*

    Wait. How can you have been this person’s “right-hand man for almost a decade” when they’re clearly only, like, 12 years old?

    1. The Rural Juror*

      Hahaha! They sound more like a toddler giving you the silent devil glare after they’ve gotten in trouble for intentionally ignoring your instructions to not cross the street without holding your hand. You want to get squashed by a car?! In this case, the Toddler Boss can go ahead and get flattened by a Mack truck.

  45. What the What*

    Don’t give a lot of notice. If he’s acting like this now, he will only become more childish once you offend him with your resignation.

    I gave extra notice once and my manager, a man 25 years my senior, with whom I’d had a good professional relationship, gave me the silent treatment. He sent someone to my desk to remove all of my files and unassigned all of my work. He then reassigned it all to the two people in cubicles on either side of me – like a punishment for being geographically close to me. I assume he was hoping they would be angry with me, but instead they were just tired and confused and it killed their morale.

    I went to my grand boss and asked what I was supposed to do for a month, since my manager refused to assign me work and wouldn’t speak to me. I got assigned to an entirely different department for which I had no skill or training (think, I was in accounting and they sent me to manufacturing), because someone was working on a project that needed warm bodies. That team was really nice (and thought the story of what had happened to me was some of the stupidest management they’d ever heard), and we had a lot of fun. They even offered me a job in their department – but I respectfully declined. At the end of each day, I’d go back to my desk to collect my stuff, and my two poor cube mates were just sitting there, sadly working overtime to do my share of the work. They were miserable, and I felt bad about it.

    The manager did not use the month long notice period to hire a replacement either. I heard from one of the cube mates that they had both quit within 6 months due to overwork.

    1. Mannheim Steamroller*

      I wish your cube neighbors had resigned with you. The company would have been served right.

  46. Not A Manager*

    NO, MA’AM.

    I would absolutely abjectly apologize in order to schedule an in-person meeting in which I blandly resign.

  47. Luna*

    Send your boss an email stating that you are going to leave the company, and that your final date with be X Day, depending on how long the notice period is. And done.
    It doesn’t matter if they refuse to acknowledge it, you gave them written proof that you are quitting.
    Call it a bridge burned, but I think you are already crossing a river with a pole over the cindered remains of a bridge floating in the water.

  48. L*

    Seriously, is he unwell? This kind of abrupt change can be caused by addiction, or brain injury, or a myriad other things. OP I’m glad you’re outta there, but interested to know if he’s always been a bit like this, or if this is a massive 180?

  49. Elbe*

    Are other members of management aware of this guy’s behavior? For the benefit of the coworkers that they like, the LW should reach out to their grand boss and make sure that other people know the extent to the issue.

  50. Bees Bees Bees*

    > That’s not okay in personal relationships

    I think there are times when it can be – maybe a racist family member yelling slurs at your boyfriend, for instance.

    In general, though, “I won’t speak to you until you apologize” should be reserved for extreme situations. Clearly this isn’t that.

  51. Wesh*

    At this point, OP should definitely quit over email, (in writing), rather than on the phone. Boss already said he didn’t want to talk, so talking is off the table. Given he seems likely to lie about how it went down, you should tender your resignation in writing, with a CC: to your personal email if you send the message from your work account, so there is a record. Copy HR as well. They should be involved anyway if your manager (the boss) is abdicating his responsibilities as a supervisor

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