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There is a large body of information specifying what types of statements should and should not be made during encounters with the police, as these interpersonal communications have the potential to confer long-term negative consequences on the citizen if she is not very careful about what statements are volunteered.

I expected to find analogous recommendations specifying what types of statements should and should not be made at the time an employee is terminated or terminates an employment relationship, but all I could find are very general (albeit true) tips about maintaining a polite, positive attitude.

Are there any specific voluntary statements or actions which should not be taken during a termination (by either party), in order to keep future doors open for the employee (i.e., if the employee may later want to appeal their firing, etc.)? I am aware of the tradeoff between voluntary quitting (look better on future job interviews) and being fired (more likely to receive unemployment), but I was wondering if there are other considerations on how to proceed once the termination procedures are in progress.

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  • Hi user! There's a lot of difference between the two situations you're describing here (quitting or being fired), which can complicate the power balances and the options you have. This reads a lot like a hypothetical question, except this one lacks the details to be adequately answered. Is this about someone being fired or someone quitting? If it's being fired, for what reason? What is the relationship between this person and the company they're leaving like? How have the termination procedures gone so far, for both parties involved?
    – Tinkeringbell
    Jun 14 '21 at 6:59
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I've been fired. It wasn't a high point in my career.

The thing I came away from that experience was: how do I want to remember myself? When you get fired, the decision has already been made; it's time to separate and the company feels that this is the way to do it.

Keeping those things in mind, there's one other point I'd also make. Generally the professional community isn't large. So someone will remember how you conducted yourself. Now that makes at least 2 - that other person that you may run into again, and yourself.

I made the decision to be a consummate professional at the exit meeting with the HR person. It wasn't their fault/decision, and I wanted to go out on a good note since I knew that they weren't going to stay there forever. So I wore a tie and was as professional as I could be.

Did it change anything? I can tell you about this event and say, with pride, that I didn't act up or try to pay anyone back. I handled a bad experience professionally and learned something from it. If you are getting fired, I'd recommend this course of action as well. Don't argue. Don't blame. Accept your accountability. Look at how to move forward, not back.

WRT quitting: your last 2 weeks determine the reference you get. When you had no accountabilities, what did you do? Did you play solitaire and say "not my problem" or did you actively transfer knowledge and make life easier for your boss? Did you talk down your current employer or did you tell people that you have enjoyed working with them and learned a lot? Do you tell your boss what you think of them and settle a few scores or do you act graciously to the people that drove you craziest? Again, be professional. You have nothing to lose by being professional and the only person you will effect will be yourself. You can choose to ruin a good recommendation, or you can have your boss and co-workers say "they left on a high note and I'd enjoy working with them again". Again, the community is often quite small and you'll run into these folks at other companies - what kind of reputation do you want to have?

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  • This is completely right or wrong depending on OP's location. Being fired in some countries means you don't even think about working with them again (because they will never hire you again), and they CAN'T (by law) write anything good or bad about you. And reference (when allowed, being positive) isn't about the last weeks but about overall perfomance. I think you answered too quickly and should maybe wait for more details before editing, as this may be too "US based".
    – OldPadawan
    Jun 14 '21 at 9:49

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