The other day, I received a strange phone call. I’m not going to go into details, but let’s just say that a professional contact/friend of many years called me and essentially burned the bridge. Now, I’m a a reasonably forgiving person, so the bridge was not really burned because I was able to save the day by being the bigger person. However, many people are not forgiving like me. I was surprised the person calling made this mistake, because it’s one that people typically learn (often the hard way) at some point in their career, never to make it again. Today, I wanted to write about burning bridges, and how you can avoid doing so! Please read on, today’s tips will greatly amplify your career and save you from the great challenges that burning bridges can cause. These tips will make you a better leader.
First and foremost, what does it mean to burn a bridge? Basically, it means acting in a way that damages a relationship that was previously professional. It means you act in a way that creates an awkward situation, sometimes irreparable. A business relationship that was once sound is now in a state of disarray. In my experience, it just isn’t worth it! This stuff will always come back to haunt you in the future. Avoid burning bridges at all costs.
Tip 1: Even if you treated in an unfriendly way, do not react back with anything other than kindness. Throughout your career, you may not agree with everything that is happening. There may be situations that seem "unfair". Some situations may even test your emotions (especially if you have been working long hours, and are low on sleep to begin with). Never, ever react to this type of stuff. You may think you’re right, but sometimes you are not. Even if you are right, do not do anything drastic. The calm, professional businessperson always wins. Keep it cool, and avoid burning those bridges. Be the bigger person, the leader.
Tip 2: Always leave on a great note! Leaving your company for a new job? Give proper two week’s notice. Be very cordial and helpful. Document everything possible. Treat your co-workers with respect. Don’t brag, keep it low-key. What about the situation where you are leaving but didn’t expect it to happen? Stay calm, and be incredibly positive and cordial. We’re in a very small world here in digital marketing (and technology overall). You will run into everyone again. And, it’s just the right thing to do, be that great professional.
Tip 3: Have a thick skin. In the world of business, things happen. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. Have that faith and inner peace. Don’t worry if things seem "unfair". Don’t worry if things are not going your way. The very thing that is not going your way could create incredible opportunity for you in the near future. You never know what is right around the corner. Have a thick skin, and carry on. Always do what’s best for the business and you cannot fail!
Tip 4: Find great teammates and rely on each other. Sometimes you will be a mentor to others. Sometimes, others will be a mentor to you. Build that strong team. Build that support network. When you surround yourself with great leaders, you cannot go wrong. There is true strength in numbers.
Tip 5: Think about the long term. Business is all about the big picture. Act in your best interests and your company’s best interests from a long term perspective. Take time to think before doing anything!
Tip 6: Be humble. There are a lot of high-powered professionals reading this blog. Smart, successful people got where they are for a reason. They are great at what they do! No matter how smart you are, however, remember that you can always be wrong from time-to-time. By staying humble, you will always be in that mindset of avoiding danger. Treat every single day like it’s your first day at work.
Tip 7: Be ready to forgive yourself and others. Stuff happens. People make mistakes (including you and me). Remember how I started this post? If you can be the bigger person and build a practice of forgiveness (of course if circumstances allow for it), you will make the business world a better place. You will also amplify your own quality of life. That said, you can forgive, but that doesn’t mean you need to forget. When someone burns the bridge, you can always reserve the right to remember what happened.
Hope these tips help, everyone. It’s all about the people. Forge those world-class business partnerships and they will pay dividends for years (and decades) to come!
Image of Challenge © iStockPhoto – iqoncept
Words of wisdom! It is never in your best interest to burn bridges. I have seen a few people disregard that advice and fail miserably. You are completely right about this being a small world. Karma will bite you in the ass if you’re not careful.
“The calm, professional businessperson always wins!”
PPC Ian says
I cannot thank you enough for the kind words and support over the years! The people who disregard this advice definitely have to learn the hard way.