Never Burn Bridges– You Only End Up Burning Yourself

Burning bridges is an ill-advised, final emotional act, one that will not serve any of us well. First, the satisfaction in telling off someone is brief. I can’t speak for everyone, but I have found a fair degree of self-loathing present after I have told off another. At the very least, I set a higher standard for myself–in spite of the occasional failure to meet that standard. I wish to treat others as I would like to be treated, the old Golden Rule. Whether someone deserves a sound verbal drubbing or not just doesn’t measure up to the standards I strive to meet.

Second, ours is truly a small world, especially now that electronic networking gives friends, strangers, co-workers and bosses access to every thought we’ve ever allowed to be posted. On and offline, we must strive to earn and maintain a reputation as a solid citizen, one not prone to violent outbursts, uncontrolled emotions, snarky insults, or poor judgment. We also need to avoid the perception that we are whiny or vindictive.

Burning bridges, whether posted online or acted out face to face, does not advance us to the other side where we could reach our goals; burning bridges actually imprisons us in the cell of another’s design. The recipient of our fire will judge us and probably label us as malcontents, predisposing others to see us that way. We may be forced to spend months or even years rebuilding our reputations after one moment venting our frustrations and dislike.

Third, truly successful human relations require that we work effectively with all kinds of people. That’s one reason that Human Resources managers look favorably upon applicants who play sports. An athlete is usually a team player, someone who can suppress his own shot on goal in order to make the smarter play, feeding the ball to a teammate. Furthermore, athletes can take it. Like Kerri Strug who vaulted for a medal in spite of injury, they push through the pain, they take coaching no matter how it’s delivered, and they persevere. Burning bridges is not a smart team play; it’s childish, something like taking your ball and going home, ruining the game for everyone.

I have worked beside some smart, dedicated people, several of whom wanted to speak their speech upon departure. One man went on to a better position in a much more urbane, rewarding setting, but those last words, the ones he could not in good conscience resist, fell upon deaf ears. His advice was simply ignored–completely and utterly, and that is the final reason that we should avoid burning bridges. People just don’t want to hear it.

So while dealing with abusive managers and difficult clients, smile, breathe, and repeat: I will not burn bridges. I have everything to lose and almost nothing to gain.

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Connye Griffin
My life has both purpose and meaning because I weave words together to inform, inspire, and illustrate. As a former teacher with thirty-seven years of experience and now as a freelance writer and editor, I have coached others to communicate their messages effectively and listened closely to help others record their memories. I have written, edited, and coached all my days, and these have made for very good days.