The (now retired) head of a department which served thousands of constituents recently told me a story.
Years ago, his top employee ─ a smart, friendly, incredibly hardworking individual ─ began to act a bit aloof and “standoffish” toward him. This greatly concerned him. Not only was it incredibly out of character, but they had always enjoyed a warm relationship. He was worried that perhaps he had done something to offend her (though he couldn’t imagine what).
So he sat down and asked her if everything was okay. That’s when she broke the news: she had been offered another job, one that paid far more, was much closer to home, would allow all sorts of opportunities that her current position never could, etc. And even though she loved her current position, this new job was simply too good to pass up. It was one of those “once in a lifetime” deals.
And because she liked her boss so much, because they had such a warm relationship, she was afraid to tell him.
But she shouldn’t have worried, because his eyes lit up and he said, “Congratulations! I’m so happy for you!” He told her that she shouldn’t feel bad at all, that she had to do what’s best for her and her family, and if there was anything he could ever do to help her, she shouldn’t hesitate to ask.
“And I meant every word of it,” he told me, even though her departure would make things extremely difficult for him.
“If you’re a diplomat,” he said, “you roll with the punches. You try and take every disappointment and turn it into an opportunity. Here, the opportunity was to maintain an excellent relationship with a person I valued and respected.”
And because he handled things the way he did, he was able to accomplish this. They didn’t part on bad terms. There were no hard feelings, and she left knowing that her work was appreciated and that he truly had her best interests at heart.
It should come as no surprise then, that all these years later, they remain good friends.