Burning Bridges

Burning Bridges

 7 Sep 2017

I have spent quite a lot of time mentoring colleagues throughout my career and I often get asked for snippets of advice; one of the key things that I keep coming back to is “Don’t Burn Your Bridges” and I thought this would be a good discussion point for today’s blog.
What does it mean to burn a bridge? Ultimately, it means that you end a relationship or behave in such a way that you could never go back and re-kindle the relationship again -- or perhaps you could, but it would require you to beg forgiveness of the person whose bridge you have burned.
Across all industries and professions there will always be situations that are uncomfortable and people that you may not get on with as well as others. I am firmly of the view that it is important to build rather than burn bridges and this approach has often led to positive experiences further down the line, whether that be a candidate that becomes a client or a junior colleague that becomes a peer or even more senior to you further down the line.
Key to business and personal success are the quality of relationships you have and the network you build. What goes around truly does come around -  you never know what the future holds and when you might be looking to that person for support.
However, if I was to play ‘Devil’s Advocate’ to my own advice, some could argue that there are times when ‘burning a bridge’ is actually the right thing to do, for example, in the face of an office bully where you might need to burn a bridge to support a friend or when to do otherwise goes against your own core values; and as I have got older and wiser I have started to realise that no matter what you do, some people will like you and some people won't. 
So perhaps it is time to update the old adage “Don’t Burn Your Bridges” with a few caveats, as to stick steadfastly to this rule could compromise your own integrity.
As always, I would be interested in your thoughts and comments.
Written by Matthew Welstead


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