Emotional reactions come with a price

By Elaine Varelas
Globe Correspondent / March 13, 2011

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Q. I worked for a company for 18 months. I was told in June that the possibility of becoming permanent would be discussed in December. At my December review, they said they still weren’t sure if they wanted to make me permanent. I got upset and quit, but withdrew my resignation the next day. They would not let me take back my quitting. What do you think about this situation?

A. Frustration is a part of life, work, relationships, and job searches. How you deal with frustration becomes the way you are judged by people.

When you determined the employment agreement was no longer working for you, you could have approached your manager to discuss your role. This would have allowed you to find out what you could do to help make a decision about your position. Instead, you waited, and then reacted in an overly emotional way. For most companies today, the addition of a permanent worker remains a significant issue. Companies do not want to add to headcount when they are unsure about what the economy holds.

Managers and jobs can sometimes drive people to react emotionally, but it’s always better to step back and give yourself time. If you act on emotions, there are consequences — which you discovered. By reacting so emotionally and quitting, you proved to the manager that you were not the right fit. They did not agree to your request to rescind your resignation because they are not obligated to do so.

This is not to say this is completely your fault. A strong manager provides performance feedback on an ongoing basis, so that there are no surprises like the one you had in December. If you can, however, acknowledge your part in this situation, you will learn from it.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Boston career management firm Keystone Associates.