Put Out That Fire: Are You Burning Bridges Prematurely?

December 8, 2012  |  

Sometimes when you’re around completely unpleasant people, you grit your teeth and bear with them and their antics.  It’s hard, but it’s worse when they’re a person that you see on a regular basis.  It seems like even their presence can sometimes make time stop, and make things like your home, job, or classroom seem like a dreadful place to be.  But, even though you hoped and prayed for it, there it is: a light at the end of the tunnel.  You and this odious person are about to part ways!  Through your excitement you might count the days until you don’t have to see that “nutcase” again and for some, you might even plan an extravagant exit strategy.  Like George Costanza, you can’t just leave this person without doing something big.  You have to bring the same frustration on them in a matter of seconds that they did in a matter of days/weeks/months/years.  Or at the very least, let them know what you think about them.

Well, while you’re imaging going off on your mother, kicking the student behind you in the shin (who always kicked your chair) or flipping your boss’s desk over, can I intercept your daydream for a minute?  While it’s fun to imagine  getting your payback, can I interest you in only keeping it a daydream and implore you to not act on it?

Why?  Life has a funny way of having people you completely despise re-emerge in your life, and sometimes they are the people who you need the most for something.  As we all know, sometimes to succeed in life, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know;  and that person you were literally about to give the boot, might be the same person who helps you get to the goal of your dreams. See what I’m saying?

Yes, idiot people have friends and resources too.  So when you leave the job that made you decide to go back to college to get a completely different major, you might need that douchebag of a boss to write you a recommendation.  That husband you divorced who you went off and told him you didn’t want to have anything else to do with, might have cheaper and reliable connections to help you with the house repairs you might have (seeing that you’re going from two incomes to one and that does take some adjusting).

As much as people want to roll their eyes and throw in a,  “Whatever,” situations like this happen all the time.  I once read an article about a guy who was bullied in high school, but when he got older he was in a position to hire people.  When the resume of one of his former bullies came in, though he had the perfect credentials, he ripped the resume up and threw it away.  Though this is illegal, the people who you are dealing with are humans who have hurt feelings, the same way you have, and along with those hurt feelings, they have memories like elephants.  They won’t remember all the horrible things they did to you, but they’ll throw everything you did to them right back in your face.

If that’s not enough of a reason not to burn that bridge, think about your ego.  Some people’s pride is so large, that it feels almost impossible to go back to a person you ripped thinking you’d never see them again and say,  “Hey, sorry for saying how I really felt about you…could you help me with this?”  If you’re one of those people, don’t even burn the bridge.

I’m saying all that to say this:  Just because someone seems that they’re out of your life now, doesn’t mean that it’ll always be the case.  Yes, you have a right to be upset if someone has hurt you, but retaliation might not be the right track to take.  No one’s telling you to be fake and pretend like the entire time you knew this jerk-wad it was a dance in the clouds.  What I’m saying is, you don’t have go down the same petty route they took the entire time they were around you.  You can be cordial, because even when you’re snapping and hurting the person who hurt you, you could be hurting yourself in the future.

Not only does Kendra Koger try not to burn bridges, she tries not to fall off of them either.  Fall into her twitter account @kkoger.

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