I am really good at walking away. When things are not working out for me, in relationships or career, I am quick to walk away and start afresh. This has its benefits as it keeps me from staying in unfavorable situations, but it also means that I struggle with persistence.
Some situations require walking away, while some require perseverance. The challenge is knowing the difference between these situations; knowing when to quit or stay and fight. I am sure we have all debated with this at one point or another.
Whether it is about a job, business or relationship, we must have had a point of a dilemma when we realized that things were not working out, and we had to decide whether to quit or stay and fight for it.
Some years back, I learned of a lady in my neighborhood who was in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship. It pained me that people stay in such relationships and I posted my thoughts on Facebook (hiding identities of course).
Someone who had been in an abusive marriage in the past commented that it may look easy to leave by an outsider, but with the victim, it’s not that easy to leave. I learned that it’s not easy for one to just walk away of unfavorable situations.
You have four choices
In the book Originals by Adam Grant, he discusses the four options that we have in such situations. When faced with such a dilemma, research shows that there are four different options one can consider.
These are exit, voice, neglect or persistence. Exit is when you leave and remove yourself from the situation such as quitting your job or leaving a relationship.
Voice happens when you try to improve the situation such as seeking counseling with your partner, talking about your relationship, and in the case of a job, voicing your concerns with the boss hoping they would do something about the situation.
Persistence is when you do nothing and tolerate the situation even when it is not favorable. In a relationship, for example, you stick with your spouse no matter how terrible the situation is, or in a work situation, you focus on working hard and ignore all the things that are falling apart in the job.
The last one is neglect which involves reaching that point where you don’t care anymore. You get to the point of apathy. If it is in a relationship, you don’t make the effort to leave or improve the situation anymore, you even start going out more to avoid your spouse.
In a work situation, you do just what is required in your job description and not make any extra effort at all.
Making your choice
If you choose to exit or voice, you make a choice to change the situation whether it helps or ends the relationship. If you choose to neglect or persist, you make a choice to keep things as they are which may be good or bad for the relationship or the job.
Your choice of action depends on how committed you are to the cause. If you care enough, and you believe that you can change the situation, you speak up and try to salvage the relationship.
On the other hand, if you are impartial about the relationship or the job, and you believe that no matter what you do you can’t improve the situation, you choose to turn a blind eye to the situation.
To stay or to leave?
If you are trying to make a decision whether to leave or stay, therefore, the first thing to ask is how is it affecting you? Of course if a relationship is abusive to a point of bringing you physical damage, the smart thing to do is to leave.
Unless when you feel that if you make an effort, such as reporting abuse, seeking your partner some help can change the situation, in that case, you can choose voice.
The same happens in the workplace. If you think that if you voice some concerns, they can improve the situation, maybe you should, more so if you have high commitment to the place and believe you can change it.
However, not all employers accommodate voicing very well, and many prefer if you would just play your part and go home, and not cause unnecessary problems.
In such a situation, it is your position that you need to evaluate. Of course the first question comes to, how much do I need this job? Can I get another job quickly enough?
Leaving is hard, but it brings change
Exiting is often the hardest thing to do, and yet it tends to bring so much freedom. You realize that you can survive without that stressing job or relationship while you didn’t think you would.
All the same, there is evidence and stories about people who stayed and fought and improved their situation. There are those who saved their relationships but this is only effective if the other party is willing to collaborate and is happy with their decision.
As you can see, either exit or voice involves some kind of change and depending on your situation, you decide the kind of change you want.
Neglect and persistence, on the other hand, involve letting things stay as they are, and while this can be safe in a job, think about how much neglect can do to a relationship. It can damage things even further when you no longer invest in the relationship, causing more harm to both parties in it.
Considering these factors, should you stay or leave your current situation?