Make Important Decisions the Right Way

Dave Cook, Career Counselor

Northeast Minnesota Office of Job Training

It’s all about people. It’s about networking and being nice to people and not burning any bridges.

Your work is going to impress, but in the end it is people that are going to hire you.

 – Mike Davidson

How often have we heard or used the phrase “don’t burn bridges.” In my mind, it means ‘stay classy,’ do things the right way, or be the person you would like to be, when dealing with squabbles, terminations, layoffs, etc. Basically, if you are dealing with another person in a negative situation, don’t be a jerk, stay classy.

A friend of mine was telling me a story about her mother. Her mother and her uncle had a falling out at her grandfather’s funeral. My friend was telling me that her grandfather would have been appalled by this behavior, but it happened anyway. 20 years went past with no communication between the two – no calls, letters, emails, or social media.

One day, her mother died. Her uncle did not attend and, frankly, was not told about the funeral. A year went by and one day she heard from her uncle – he was in tears. By the time he wanted to mend the bridge, it was too late.

A person’s work history can be similar to a story like that. A work history full of “you can’t judge me,” “I am tired of doing that,” and walking off jobs can cause a person to miss out on opportunities. The benefits which might have been gained through reputation and references are lost.

Burning bridges over emotional, knee jerk, and petty reasons can impact a person for years – in some cases forever. It is easy to lose sight of what matters in the big picture when a person is emotionally invested in the moment. Pride is not easy to manage and it is VERY difficult to take a step back. However, when potentially cutting off an employer or a relationship, and burning a bridge is at stake, taking a step back is the thing to do. This then allows us to make a decision with a bit of calm and thought which ultimately can go a long way toward avoiding burning bridges. Even after careful thought, your decision to quit a job or end a relationship may not change. However, the bridge is still intact.

Make important decisions the right way – stay classy – and don’t burn bridges.


“People burn their bridges until they realize they’re stranded…and then it’s too late.”

 – Anonymous


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