Ways to distinguish yourself #199 – Exit gracefully

Ways to distinguish yourself #199 – Exit gracefully

By Rajesh Setty on Mon 24 Nov 2008, 7:53 AM – 6 Comments

I have always believed that there are only two kinds of relationships – those that are “long term” and those that are “very long term”. Yes, I am exaggerating a bit but when you approach your relationships and put them into one of those two boxes, your perspective on relationships shift.

In reality though, some relationships have to end in the short-term.

Let us look at one such situation:

Yes, you want to build long-term relationships. But the other person may not want that. If you are building a relationship with someone who thinks “every relationship is there only for his or her advantage” then there is trouble. Unless you want to be “taken advantage of”, maintaining a long-term or very-long-term relationship with this person would be meaningless.

What do you do when this happens?

You can end the relationship kicking and screaming or you can exit gracefully. Most people choose the former approach as they want to “get even” and ensure that the other person “gets the message”.

If you think and stop for a minute you will realize that more often than not, the above logic of “getting even” does not make sense. You have already decided that there is no point in maintaining a long-term relationship with the other person. So, how does it matter whether the other person “gets the message” or not. The time you spend “getting even” is throwing good money over bad money. The other person’s biggest loss has to be you and your relationship in the future. If the other person is reasonably smart, he or she will recognize that. If the other person is not smart enough, trying to teach him that will be even more costly for you anyway. How much time do you want to spend on something that is totally ‘past’ you?

Time is the ultimate scarcity for everyone. You are no exception. When you exit gracefully from a relationship, you just found yourself some “extra” time on your hand. You can decide to use that time however you want. When you decide to keep going back to the past (whatever be the reason) you lost some precious time. Time that you could have used to invest in someone with whom you want to build a long-term relationship.

You are smart – so you make the choice!


Note 1: For links to the other 198 entries in the “Distinguish yourself” series, please visit my Squidoo lens on the same topic:

Squidoo Lens: Distinguish yourself

Note 2: The first 25 entries in the series have been packaged in a ChangeThis manifesto that was published on September 07, 2005. You can download that manifesto here:

ChangeThis Manifesto: 25 Ways to Distinguish Yourself (PDF, Free)

Note 3: My latest manifesto on ChangeThis was published on August 6, 2008. This is a photographic manifesto featuring 15 of my mini sagas (stories in exactly 50 words). Here is the link:

ChangeThis Manifesto: Mini Sagas – Bite Sized Lessons for Life and Business (PDF, Free)


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6 Comments so far, Add Yours

Ananth  on November 24th, 2008

What if due to some mistake, a relationship beneficial to both the persons is about to be broken? What should a person who is interested in improving the relationship do? Obviously he has done something which made him lose the trust of the other person, so his words dont have much weight now, but how can he go about salvaging the relationship?

Rajesh Setty  on November 24th, 2008

Good question Ananth.

A mistake that might break the trust of someone is usually very COSTLY. Rebuilding trust is not easy as giving you a “second chance” is something that ONLY the other person can decide. It is less costly for the person to just move on.

So, the first option is NEVER to make a mistake that will break someone’s trust. If for unfortunate reason that mistake has been committed, pray that the other person will give you a second chance and start conducting in a manner that you claim back the trust one step at a time.

It can be a LONG journey,though.



Vijay  on November 24th, 2008

Raj, There are times when I slow-down a relationship because it is too fast on me or getting too hot for me to handle. Sometimes, people interpret that as receding from the relation. I still have to find a way to gracefully slow-down, especially on new relations.



Rajesh Setty  on November 24th, 2008

Hi Vijay,

Thank you for your comment. You got it right – “grace” is the keyword that works like magic. It is costly for both parties to do it any other way.

Also, frequency of contact may not be a good metric. A better metric is “level of caring”. If you care enough, you will see that you can pick up where you left even after a long period of no contact. Actually, if you care enough you can easily find ways to be in touch without that being a huge cost to you.

Have a wonderful week ahead.



Kare Anderson  on November 25th, 2008

My friend Paul Geffner says Right Relationships are a matter of recognizing and keep the right distance.

People like people who like them.

Also, whether I want to strengthen the relationship

or step away from it I’ve found that praising

the specific character trait or action

that most matters to that person can smooth the way – closer or away.

Bringing out the best side in someone often means they see and support my better side. That way we have a greater chance of becoming happier and higher-performing – together or when around each other. But not always.

Sometimes it even brings out an unexpected and positive facet of that person, moving me to stay connected – if I can stay connected to that facet.

Rajesh Setty  on November 25th, 2008

Very nicely said. Thanks Kare.

Happy Thanksgiving.



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