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How to let go of nice people

  • By Alan Knott-Craig
  • November 8, 2014


Its easy getting rid of assholes. Its never nice firing nice people.


But sometimes a nice person has to go, and the only question is “How?”


Rule number one is show respect.


Most of the time, strict adherence to the law is the wrong process because it incentivizes the employer to “manage” the person out of the business with formal  warnings and subtle hints, humiliating him in front of colleagues and destroying trust in management.


Don’t make it any more embarrassing than it has to be. Everyone has self-dignity, and the truth is that there are always two sides to a story.


The employer is normally equally to blame for things not working out.


But you gotta do what you gotta do, so when you’ve realized he’s not the right guy, call a meeting and have an honest “Dear John” conversation.


One of three things will happen:


  1. John will accept that an unhappy marriage is bad for everyone, and agree to part ways. No hard feelings. The employer and John will reach terms and it will be the happiest possible ending to an unhappy situation.
  2. John will go psycho. Maybe John is psycho. Maybe that’s why you’re firing him. Pay him to go away. Stick to the law, otherwise he’ll take you to court. Never hire psychos.
  3. John will accept the decision, but refuse to believe it. He’ll think its just a practical joke, even once he’s been paid a severance, left the company and he’s now unemployed with two young children and a mortgage.


The third scenario is the worst scenario. Why? Because it’s the scenario most followed by really nice people. And no one likes to see nice people get hurt. Because of the state of denial, John doesn’t chase a new job fast enough. Before he knows it he doesn’t have cash for school fees and his mortgage.


John starts to panic. Cash-poor parents parent become desperate and panic. That kind of stress changes people’s brains and they do things that they would never normally do.


The only way to help John is to not judge him. Don’t turn your back on him. If you were in his shoes, you would do the same thing. John is a fundamentally nice human being, and when he’s through the crisis he’ll revert to the original John.


But, until the crisis has passed, John will be a psycho. And psychos are best left alone.

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