I’ve got a special leadership – and a professional – message for you today. Don’t burn bridges.
As you know, Washington DC is a small town and, my guess is, wherever you live and whatever community you are part of – professional or otherwise – it’s small. The type of community where relationships will continue to ebb and flow over time. The key is not to burn a bridge.
I recognize how frustrating it can be when you’re doing all that you can to serve a client’s needs. You’re developing relationship and they may not value what you’re doing. They may not keep their word. Heck, they might not even keep what their promise outlined in the contract that they signed with you. The key is to handle that in a professional way. Don’t burn a bridge, although you want to.
You want to prove that they were wrong and you want to tell them about how they didn’t treat you right in terms of the business. Be self-aware enough to know that if you don’t burn the bridge, that sooner or later, they may be walking back to you. Don’t burn the bridge because you might need it to stay out of the water. However, you may also need it to maintain relationships long term.
I can tell you this, there are so many times in my professional life where I maintained a kind of tenuous relationship and it’s amazing over the years where those folks came back to me. I’ll give you a perfect example. When I was with Smartbrief and the US Chamber of Commerce, I recognize now, a lot of people returned my call, frankly, because of the work that I did but mainly my position. When I started my own company, that wasn’t the case; I didn’t have influence, I didn’t have a lot of clients, I didn’t have a lot of game. I remember the folks who did not return my call. I remember the folks that did return my call. However, I’d never burned any bridges. Sooner or later, some of those folks that didn’t need my help suddenly needed it; their situation changed, their position changed, their job may have been eliminated. They came back and they needed my help. So, that’s what it’s all about.
Don’t burn the bridge, maintain the relationship, be self-aware, and don’t let your ego drive your reaction. I hope that helps you today. It sure has helped me and I probably need to think about it today. Best wishes.