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Business Strategy When Is It Time to Burn That Bridge?

I, like many people, am not in the habit of burning bridges (destroying relationships or taking a stand.) I actually go out of my way to avoid confronting people or companies that are doing things that annoy me. Being in business I meet lots of people every day, many of them are very nice and some I avoid because I don’t believe in what they are saying or the behaviour they are exhibiting. Unfortunately these annoying people never take a hint in regards to me not wanting to interact with them.

For years I’ve allowed this. It’s now gotten to the point that I’ve begun to reflect that maybe I was all wrong about being quiet.

Would this mean that all the times I was in the same room as people who were exhibiting wrong behaviour or saying things that were wrong, then I was condoning their behaviour? The more I reflected the more concerned I became about the reputation of both my company and myself.

By not saying anything I had allowed these people to affect my relationship with the other people in the room. I was guilty by association. In many cases the people who exhibited the poor behaviour or didn’t tell the truth were also telling other people they knew me and my company and that we were friends. This made the situation even worse.

I got to a distressed state thinking about what I should do. On one hand we are taught not to say anything because it is bad form against an unwritten business understanding and on the other hand the reputation of my company, as well as myself, was going to become tarnished.

The first time I spoke up, I was extremely nervous and upset. I “Burned the Bridge!” I didn’t feel good about it but then something happened. People who had witnessed it or heard about it began to come to talk to me. They agreed with what I had done and wished they had done it themselves. On top of that they began discussing other occasions where ‘these people’ (the ones I had burned the bridge with) had upset others by saying or doing very unprofessional things but nothing had been said. I was amazed. My actions, which I originally had thought badly of, were actually very good.

I think “Burning Bridges” is something that should not be taken lightly and should only be done with the utmost integrity. The point is that many people respect the event when someone takes a stand for what is right.

I have come to the realization that by being silent you are not only affecting your reputation by having people believe you agree with what is going on but you’re also causing people you care about (friends, customers, etc.) to have the wrong information that will affect their performance. Instead of being silent, it might be time to “Burn that Bridge” and take a stand.