Don’t Burn Bridges!

After you’ve been wronged in business, it may seem justified to blow someone up on social media, in a review, or even face to face. But is this wise? Is burning your bridges a good choice, even if you never plan to work with them again?

In my opinion, the answer is always “no”. It’s not worth it. Burning bridges is juvenile and unprofessional.

unprofessional

On several occasions, clients of mine have behaved in a horrible manner. They didn’t pay us, or replaced us with zero notice, or just locked us out of their CRM with no communication. Even when they owed us tens of thousands of dollars and ghosted us, I’ve always felt it was never OK to air the matter on social media or to even confront them face to face.

Whatever ethical dilemma they’re encountering is 100% on them. We may not know the entire story. We may not know they’re embarrassed to admit they’re struggling financially or personally. The only thing I can control in these situations is how we react to these instances.

We have a protocol in place for when we part ways with a client. We hand over their assets immediately and make the transition as seamless as possible.

Unprofessional

 

How we handle these situations can dictate future business for my company. If I hesitate for a second to return a dealership’s assets because the dealer owes me money or behaved in an unethical or unprofessional manner, it places me at their level. My business goals are bigger than winning a pissing contest with a dealership.

I have the same rule for employees. We pay everyone what they’re owed and treat them with respect through any separation. The fact they’re no longer a fit for our company – either through their choice or ours – doesn’t make them less valuable as a human. Even if they take to social media to start a war, we don’t engage. We remain professional.

After all, we may cross paths again and we may be a better fit. If I choose to burn this relationship up, this will never be possible.

I look at all relationships this way – sometimes to my detriment. But this is my choice.

Please understand, I do get mad in these situations, but I never let it spill over to the other side.
We’ve had employees who left amicably, and some go kicking and screaming. I take neither as a reflection of me or my team, but more of that person. The one who left peacefully did not do so because I was an awesome leader that I inspired that reaction; it was just their caliber of behavior. The employee that took to social media to scream and yell was also not a reflection on me and my staff. It was just that person’s way of reacting to a stressful situation.

 

unprofessional

 

We all have a code of conduct that rules our lives and dictates how we react and respond to the stresses of life. But even more important is how we were taught to handle stress. If we saw our parents lash out when things didn’t go their way, we believe this is an acceptable behavior and will drag that belief into our adult lives. On the other hand, if we witnessed our parents handle situations calmly, we’ll emulate that behavior.

In business, there’s really no good reason to burn a bridge, even if in the moment you can never imagine it being repaired. The future is a strange thing. People and situations change. You can choose to take the high road. Even if they never do business with you again, if you deliver a great job and handle them with respect, you can ask for a reference or a referral down the road.

Revenge in business, as stated in a 2017 Forbes article, is a form of self-harm. The writer goes states that, as an entrepreneur, no one really cares about your problems or your anger. Instead, they will judge you by your actions. Can we measure up to that judgement? If you decide to vent your anger publicly, will it make a difference? Will it enhance your personal or professional standing?

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had clients “wrong” me and then ghost me. It does piss me off, and one reason it does is because I always answer my clients’ calls and texts, no matter what or when. It may be naïve, but I expect people to do business the same way I do. It rarely happens, but I still expect it. And I guarantee that everyone in my company always acts with nothing but total respect and integrity.

It can be more harmful to indulge in vengeful behavior. I say this because the emotion and energy needed to maintain the anger is unhealthy. You only end up reliving the story over and over. The more your friends commiserate with you, the more you feel justified in your anger. This just adds fuel to the fire.

 

Stress

 

So here’s my advice. We all have conflict in our business or personal lives. Take the time to sit down calmly and write out the lessons you learned from this situation. Write for as long as you can and then study the results.

I’m nearly positive you’ll discover ways you might have handled the situation differently. Maybe some small tweaks would have made a world of difference. Having established that, you can take that lesson into your next exchange and be sure you don’t have to relive that frustration.

So here’s my advice. We all have conflict in our business or personal lives. Take the time to sit down calmly and write out the lessons you learned from this situation. Write for as long as you can and then study the results.

I’m nearly positive you’ll discover ways you might have handled the situation differently. Maybe some small tweaks would have made a world of difference. Having established that, you can take that lesson into your next exchange and be sure you don’t have to relive that frustration.

At some point you’ll be frustrated again, maybe not in exactly the same way. But at least you’ll know how to handle it without burning any bridges.

 

BossRobin Wilson is the co-owner of SCP Agency.

She is a self-proclaimed social media guru and specializes in social marketing for auto dealerships. She has also been instrumental in teaching auto dealerships how to market through social media to their existing database and shows them how to make sure that they do not become victims of conquest marketing. She is a marketing coach to all and has become a leader in Facebook marketing strategies in the U.S.

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Robin Wilson 12:58 PM (7 hours ago) to me