If you’ve decided to accept an offer of employment from another company, and nothing will change your decision to leave your current position, you should still keep your guard up.

Why? Because if your current employer retaliates and you don’t know how to diffuse that retaliation, then you could end up psychologically wounded or right back at the job you wanted to leave.

The best way to shield yourself from the inevitable mixture of emotions surrounding your resignation is to remember that employers often follow a predictable, three-stage pattern when faced with a resignation:

Tactic #1: Your boss will express their shock: “You sure picked a fine time to leave! Who’s going to finish the work we started?”

The implication is that you’re irreplaceable. The company might as well ask, “How will we ever live without you?” To answer this assertion, you can reply, “If I were run over by a truck on my way to work tomorrow, I feel that somehow, this company would survive.”

Tactic #2: Your boss will start to probe: “Who’s the new company? What sort of position did you accept? What are they paying you?”

Here you must be careful not to disclose too much information or appear too enthusiastic. Otherwise, you run the risk of feeding your current employer with ammunition they can use against you later, such as, “I’ve heard some pretty terrible things about your new company,” or “They’ll make everything look great until you actually get there. Then you’ll see what a sweat shop that place really is.”

Tactic #3: Your boss will make you an offer to keep you from leaving: “You know that raise you and I were talking about a few months back? Well, I forgot to tell you. We were just getting it processed yesterday.”

To this you can respond, “Gee, today you seem pretty concerned about my happiness and well-being. Where were you yesterday, before I announced my intention to resign?”

You might find it difficult to believe, but some managers follow this three-stage pattern almost to the letter. By being aware of this pattern, you’ll be better equipped to diffuse a counteroffer attempt and more easily take the step toward career advancement that you want to take.