I think ‘quiet quitting’ is a misnomer. 

Its been anecdotally defined to me as follows: “Quiet Quitting is where you don’t actually quit your job but instead do exactly what your job entails and nothing extra past your work hours. So no voluntary OT.” 

Well, to my mind, if that’s considered ‘quiet quitting’, employers who think that’s what’s going on with someone are being duplicitous in their job descriptions. 

That said, culturally it is clear, since quiet quitting is now a ‘thing’, what is expected as the standard acceptable work ethic is to always go above and beyond. That’s how this ‘quiet quitting’ label gives ammunition to bosses who want to abuse the time boundaries of people who work for them. 

Maintaining boundaries so you don’t burn out is not ‘quiet quitting’. It’s normalcy. Or should be considered as such.

It seems to me that people are raised to have better boundaries these days, and now we’re calling them lazy. ‘Quiet quitting’ is a term coined by career coach Bryan Creely, a young, Gen X TikTok influencer.  He makes a convincing distinction between ‘quiet quitting’ and laziness, yet it strikes me that ‘quiet quitting’ is just another term that demonizes Millennials and Gen zers, who really don’t need anymore of that noise. It also confuses everyone.

Whose to say you’re ‘quietly quitting’ if you maintain boundaries for yourself by leaving work at five without putting in overtime? If overtime is standard, then maybe there are internal organizational problems that need to be attended to so that things run more efficiently. 

On the other hand, are you cutting corners and not fully present at work? Would you walk out if there was an unexpected crises at the end of the day (assuming crises are the exception)? Are you ‘Phoning it in’ in other words? 

I say ‘phoning it in’ because I think ‘lazy’ is a mean-spirited judgement of character, whereas ‘phoning it in’ describes the behavioral result of inattentiveness due to a lack of interest. It’s a lot more accurate than ‘lazy’, whatever that means.

If you’re a person with ADHD, the concept of ‘quiet quitting’ can muddy the waters when you’re having a hard time giving yourself credit for doing the best you can because you’ve absorbed the idea that you’re ‘lazy’.  Calling that idea ‘quiet quitting’ does nothing to clarify your situation if that’s the case.

So if we eliminate the term ‘quiet quitting’, then we can address the real issue: Determining whether you’re ‘phoning it in’ or functioning within your boundaries.

Eliminating the obvious fiscal upside of having a job can be very clarifying in this way. It enables you to self-assess by answering three simple questions:

  1. Other than it paying the bills, are you grateful to have the job you’re in? 
  2. Do you enjoy it?
  3. Why? 

If the answer to one of the first two questions is ‘no’ and the other is ‘yes’, then the third question is worth exploring. 

If the answer to both questions 1 & 2 is ‘no’, don’t bother with the third. Because whether you think you’re quietly quitting or phoning it in, I humbly submit that its time to explore moving on.