How To Get Laid Off: Introducing The “It’s Not You It’s Me But It’s Really You” Strategy

Guilty Looking French BulldogGuys have it tough. We have to always make the first move when we want to talk to a girl. Even if the girl really fancies a guy, for some reason she won’t talk to him even if it means missing out on potential true love for the rest of her life! Afterward, she’ll pout to all her friends why the guy never came up to her. Well guess what? Approaching an attractive stranger is sometimes petrifying for people with balls too!

Let’s take it a step further with marriage. Even if a girl wants to marry her boyfriend of five years, she is willing to miserably wait for many more years instead of straight up asking him to marry her! Such strange social habits we practice don’t you think?

Of course as we approach the year 2013, things are much more balanced now. Girls come up to me left and right asking me to buy them a drink only to walk away after they’re done. I have a strong theory why men have an edge in getting what they want in the workplace. The simple answer is that men have been trained since a very young age to get the girl or else be doomed to a life with Palmela.

Now you know why I’m often bringing up the topic of relationships. If you can develop your relationship building skills, I strongly believe you will increase your chances of getting what you want.


When you put yourself out there, your heart will inevitably get stomped on. You won’t die, but you might end up a little depressed that she ends up dating your wingman instead of yourself. But a funny thing happens after a while. With each rejection, you care a little bit less. When you care a little bit less, you get a little more bold. And once you get very bold, good things start happening!

Being bold means being confident with rejection. Being confident with rejection allows you to devise strategies on how to reduce your failures and increase your victories. Those who have put themselves out their in the dating world the most are the most skilled at getting promotions and raises in the workplace. It’s a numbers game at the end of the day.

One of the binds most of us get into is when we need to break up with somebody who still wants to be with us for whatever reason. Most relationships don’t end happily ever after, just like how most jobs don’t end with 40 years of bliss and a wonderful pension. Times have changed, and we should adapt.

I personally hate breaking up with a girl who still really cares for me. If she hates me, wonderful! It hurts me to see another person cry. I just can’t stand it. Crying makes me want to do everything possible to make her stop. That sometimes includes staying in a relationship longer than is healthy.

Scared men like me love to employ the “It’s not you it’s me” strategy in breaking up. Even though it’s obviously you, we want to think it’s really us who are bad for you. Since nobody is perfect, this breakup strategy is easy to deploy.We can talk about that one time we forgot to bring back a present from an overseas trip. We can remind her of when we went on some raunchy bachelor party. Or we can say how we don’t earn enough money and aren’t good enough for her, although that generally creates more empathy, so I would advise against!

Whatever our excuse, we have to be sincere about our faults so that when the inevitable severance comes, we will both feel better about ourselves. Let’s a take a look at how this relates to wanting to leave your job.


If you no longer feel your job is the right fit for you, you should consider employing the same “it’s not you it’s me” strategy as you do in your love life. Some would argue that people dedicate more of their lives to their jobs than to their loved ones! That’s not hard to imagine given the average person spends nine hours a day in an office.

1) Be delicate. The reason why you are employed is because you are deemed more valuable employed than gone. When your manager loves you more than you love your manager, you’ve got to break it to him or her gently. Take them out for some dessert to get their defenses down. Tell them “you need to have a talk” in the morning so their mind is left wondering all throughout the day. When it’s time to finally talk, they will be expecting the worst, but hoping for the best.

2) Be conflicted. Even if your manager is the biggest two-faced liar you’ve ever known, don’t let them feel your anger. Instead, express confliction as you blame yourself for such poor performance for not getting the raise your manager promised you earlier in the year. It doesn’t matter that you actually performed very well. Your manager knows it and knows he s/he should have delivered on the promise. Now you are strategically calling their bluff and making them feel bad!

3) Be adamant. As a desired employee, your manager will try to make you feel special. She’ll shower you with promises of a better future. Don’t let her do it. Remind yourself of all her lies, slights, and ball busting moments. But once again, don’t show your disdain. Instead, show your appreciation. It’s time to start planting the seeds of doubt in your manager’s mind that she will ever be able to get you back by now reminding her of your underperformance.

4) Be average. Remember, nobody is perfect. I’m sure everyone has come late to work one day, missed a deadline, or underperformed in some way. It’s your job to remind your boss about such underperformances so that s/he will volunteer you for redundancy in the next round. If you’re overly critical about your failures, it may result in your boss really loving you for your humility! If you do a good job at selling yourself poorly, then it is only a matter of time before you’ll be sent packing with a nice severance.

5) Be melancholy. You don’t want to show tremendous glee as you collect a severance from a job that was making you miserable. This means no Tweets, emails, or Facebook updates writing how awesome it is to be free from prison. Smile on the inside! Instead, you’ve got to act a little sad so that nobody comes gunning for you. Always be the underdog to get ahead. By showing a position of weakness, you keep the doors open to potentially return to your old employer or your old industry. But first, you must see what else is out there!

One of the best readings I encourage employee to read is the Harvard Business Review Classic, “How To Manage Your Boss.”


It took me several months of planning, and one month of negotiations before I finally engineered my layoff. I ran a sizable eight figure business and was the face of the firm in the region for the past 11 years. I knew that if I left, revenue would go down by the millions of dollars. Business-wise, letting me go was a bad move.

However, I convinced my employer that my subordinate could handle the business because I trained him well. I reminded my employer how much cheaper he was than me and also brought up some of my accounts that still needed a lot of work. I then convinced them to do the right thing by cutting costs in this tough economic environment. They were planning on cutting costs anyway, but weren’t exactly thinking of letting go of one of their largest producers.

My employer and I had a very solid relationship. The relationship was build through years of strong performance and a personal relationship with various managers. I spent time cultivating these relationship to a point where I could happily grab a beer and talk about anything. Building relationships based on trust is key. In the end, we created a win-win scenario where I got the severance package that I wanted, and they fulfilled a requirement to downsize without having to feel guilty.

Looking to make extra money? I’ve recently tried out driving for Uber in 2015 because they were giving away a free $50 gas card and are currently giving up to a $300 bonus after you make your 20th ride. After 225 hours, my gross pay is $36/hour, which is not too bad! I can see how people can easily make an extra $2,000 a month after commission and expenses with Uber or any ridesourcing company. I’d definitely sign up and drive until at least the bonus . Every time I plan to drive somewhere, like my main contracting gig down in San Mateo, I’ll just turn on the Uber app to try and catch a fare towards the direction I’m going. Why not make extra money?

$36/hour is a huge pay cut for me and it’s a humbling experience as well. But discovering the whole ridesourcing experience first hand is fascinating! I’ve got so many stories to share in the future about my experiences picking up random people. You can make $40,000 a year easily if you work a normal 40 hour a week shift based off my experience.

Learn How To Negotiate A Severance Package

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship. Sam focuses on helping readers build more income in real estate, investing, entrepreneurship, and alternative investments in order to achieve financial independence sooner, rather than later.

You can sign up to receive his articles via email or by RSS. Sam also sends out a private quarterly newsletter with information on where he's investing his money and more sensitive information.

Subscribe To Private Newsletter


  1. MD says

    Oh man I’m the same. I hate breakups or leaving. I don’t like to see that sad look!

    How did you get to the point that you built such a solid relationship with your employer? Sounds pretty cool how you guys could go for a beer.

    • says

      Definitely tough sometimes. Hence, it’s nice to really make the otherside feel that we are mostly to blame for the breakup, or some other exogenous variable out of our control eg our spouse’s career.

      After providing more value to our employers than the income we make for a long enough period of time, your managers will really appreciate you. You make them look good, and they in turn get paid. Least s/he can do is buy you a beer!

  2. JayCeezy says

    Sam, this is a wonderful post. Very timely for me. I purchased your book a couple of months ago (through the ‘Retire By 40’ blog), and am on my third reading. At the moment, I am continuing to develop a relationship with HR, remembering that ‘they are people, too’ as you note. I am also planting ‘seeds’ of why I must leave (family obligations), but am stuck on how to make this a good deal for my employer.

    Having wasted huge sums of time, opportunity, money, and emotion at both romantic and work relationships that were not optimal (or sometimes even tolerable), your succinct description of this extrication strategy is really hitting home for me.

    The hard part is finding a way to leave without embarrassing, hurting, or rejecting the other party, and making them feel that it is in their interest to part ways. Appreciate your thoughts in this post on avoiding tertiary “goals” (telling that boss, co-worker, girlfriend, etc. how selfish, incompetent, and awful they really were) that get in the way of the Primary Objective (to leave with as much money and goodwill as possible.) Very good for me to remember, thank you.

    • says

      JC, always GREAT to hear from readers! Perhaps one day, you would like to share your transition story on my site.

      There is no time like the present. The quicker you can figure out how to break free and live the life you want, the better! Fight on!

    • says

      Not anymore indeed! Life speed accelerates! The analogy with work and love relationships are eerily similar. Nobody should look back with regret at doing something for so long which did not motivate the soul. I hope my posts and my book can help prevent regret.

  3. says

    “With each rejection, you care a little bit less.” This is really important and true!! And having been rejected so many times, it makes you so much more ballsy because “eh, if I get rejected again, it happens.” And you move on. NBD. Relationships and career both. So true.

    Well said!

  4. says

    Though I like the comparison, it’s a horrible strategy on the personal relationship end vs. the employee/employer relationship end. In a relationship, caring less because a ton of rejections is a BAD THING! You’re building walls that are reinforced with solid steel, layer after layer each time you get rejected or heartbroken. Then you’re a stone wall when in a relationship with a person that really cares about you, and good luck letting your guard down and actually enjoying each other….been there, done that, sucks….

    But, on the employer front, sounds like a great plan, Sam. In this relationship, both of your goals are usually to progress and make more money. Also, to enjoy what your do. If you don’t, gotta break it off and move on, no hard feelings necessary.

    • says

      In a personal relationship, at some point, are the mutual goals not to create more love and happiness? It’s when we really care for someone that it hurts the most to hurt them when we break up, hence the it’s not you it’s me strategy.

      Same thing for work. If you appreciate your company for providing good opportunities over the years, you don’t want to burn bridges.

  5. says

    Interesting how you relate dating and work! Are women at a disadvantage when they negotiate? I don’t think so. I think they are as good or better than men. The women who conned you into buying them a drink and walking away was very good.

    • says

      I was trying to be self-deprecating when saying women make me buy them drinks and walk away all the time. Obviously that never happens!

      Negotiation skills and being aggressive is definitely a reason attributable to the wage gap. If you never ask, you will never get.

  6. says

    I couldn’t agree more with this statement – With each rejection, you care a little bit less. I used to be so shy when it came to women because I feared rejection. One day I just got sick of wondering “what if” and finally just bit the bullet and forgot about the rejection side of things. Sure, at first it stung a little, but as time goes on it really doesn’t bother you and you start to appreciate that you can move on quickly.

  7. says

    Great post Sam and a sexy banner at the bottom.
    The concept of this post works well for those with solid relationships that have been developed over years. But what if someone doesn’t have the relationship that you did? I mean, let’s say the relationship is a working one – the employer knows this person doesn’t bring in money (no sales – their position is not sales based), they’re just another paper pusher. You were able to walk away because your relationship was at it’s peak, you were valued because of the $$ you brought in. Not everybody is in that position, like most relationships, they start off hot, and sadly dissolve towards the end. Unfortunately by then, the average employee hasn’t left yet, and it becomes hard to negotiate much I think.

    Finally, when one does make up their mind to leave, I’m the first on to not burn bridges, but you gotta look after yourself first. No matter when you break up, whether with the employer or a loved one, there’s a sour taste afterwards.

    • says

      Perhaps a topic for a new post with a new strategy indeed!

      I think most people do outstay their welcome. The stars leave, the bad performers get fired, and the mediocre stay, left rotting away.

      Even if you don’t bring in rev, your work still provides more value than your income, otherwise you’d be done. Hence, be the best paper pusher at your office! Get in earlier, leave later, go to all functions and build relationships!

      • says

        In theory yes, but as someone who’s trying to accomplish the working less (I call it working smarter) for more $$, why would anyone stay later, come in earlier, when you’re getting paid X amount (salary) – most will still get the 2.5% raise (covering inflation barely) for the extra hours, functions etc.

        You’re paid a salary to come in for 8 hours, anything above and beyond should be recognized, and if it’s not, I say don’t do it. I know this sound cruel, but at the end of the day you gotta look after yourself, because the employer is looking after them selves first no matter how good your relationship may be.

        • says

          Because you have to play the game if you want to win the game. No manager is going to go the extra mile for an employee who is working less than him and peacing out when the clock strikes 5. It’s only when the employee starts showing amazing dedication beyond the normal when a manager takes notice and provides beyond normal treatment.

          You can’t be average and expected to be treated special!!

  8. says

    Another great article Sam. Unfortunately at this point in my life, I’m not interested in getting laid off. (I like my job now – although we’ll see in 10 years). That being said, I wouldn’t mind a few extra $$ on the side, while I keep my day job. (hence my various side businesses)

  9. says

    Great article. I remember watching a show, can remember the name, where a guy always got rejected but never gave up. He told the main character that he could get shot down 100 times, but maybe that 101st time would be the one.
    You’re right though. If a person is afraid of rejection there is less of a chance of asking for a promotion, or putting themselves out there by applying for a job that they don’t believe there is a chance that they’ll get.

  10. says

    It seems that engineering your lay off requires as much or more prudent planning and hard work as engineering your move up to the corporate ladder. Well done Sam! You are an inspiration to many, including myself!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *