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How to Say Goodbye

Endings are tough. Unless you’re leaving a terrible job, saying goodbye is always a little painful. I mean, even if you are leaving a terrible job, do you bid an awkward farewell? Set fire to the front door? There’s no clear answer.

I’m a big fan of the French exit. It’s so easy. First, you plant your feet and stand up. And then you walk away without a word. Don’t confuse this with an Irish goodbye, which requires a bladder full of beer.

However, not all situations are right for a French exit. It takes a well-trained eye to tell if the moment is right to shady bounce, as my friend Lisa dubs it. Here’s a cheat sheet:

Good times to French exit

  • Almost all parties
  • Stuffy weddings
  • Corporate picnics & BBQs
  • After performing at an Austrian singing competition held by the Nazis

Bad times to French exit

  • Job interviews
  • As your name’s being called at an award ceremony
  • As your number’s being called at a deli

Now, let’s just say you’re in an un-French exitable situation. You must say goodbye. And it’s to someone you care about, someone you’d rather not see go. How do you say it?

“It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later” is off the table. You can do better.

“Sooo…I guess this is it” feels awfully sheepish.

“Th-th-that’s all folks!” only works for cartoon pigs.

How do you say goodbye?

I probably should’ve been upfront about this, but I don’t know. Like most people, I’m just making it up as I go along. (My working definition of adulthood).

But here’s what I think: a good goodbye is not universal, but specific. Not sappy, but thoughtful. It may feel a little uncomfortable, but it’s better to acknowledge something ending than ignore it out right. A good goodbye means something, and not just to you.

Goodbyes aren’t easy because finality isn’t easy. But without the goodbyes, there’d be no room for the hellos.

(Just try not to run into the person five minutes later because it’s even more awkward the second time around.)


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