Burning Bridges

I’m appalled at the frequency I hear someone with otherwise common sense start to bad-mouth another person.  These days it’s often critical of a previous boss, a co-worker, the President, a spouse or someone whose success is greater than their own. 

Why is it that negatives spew out so easily when they are directed at another living, breathing person?  I believe there is a process of destruction that destroys the speaker – certainly more than affecting the target. 

And in today’s technology and communication world it’s pretty risky.  How many times have we seen a stray comment, a nasty email, a quick cell phone call or a FaceBook note end up haunting the sender of that message?  Would you really want that person to hear the message straight from your mouth?

In a famous written piece from the wisest man who ever lived (Solomon) we read:  “Never make light of the king, even in your thoughts.   And don’t make fun of the powerful, even in your own bedroom.  For a little bird might deliver your message and tell them what you said.”  (Ecc. 10:20 NLT)

Losing a job can hurt and injure your pride.  Having your house flooded with no flood insurance can be a tremendous blow.  Finding out the bank will not renew your business loan can be a set-back.  But hurling insults and finding a person to blame harms only your own ability to see positive steps forward.  Those bridges you’re burning may contain the very concrete, wood and support forms you need to build a new road.

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14 Responses to “Burning Bridges”

  1. Sutton Parks Says:

    I respectfully disagree. This reminds me of the story of George Washington burning his boats after the crossed the Potomic; his soldiers then had to win, there was no retreat. If a decision is well thought out, and a commitment is made, then burning bridges removes any thought of going back. Many of my best decisions were ones where I’ve burned my bridges. However, a wise man once said, “Nothing pays so well as restrain of pen and tongue”. Personal attacks
    are best avoided, an positive actions, I have found, are more productive. This post is a good reminder to me to be more careful. Thanks Dan.

  2. Tod Shuttleworth Says:

    Could not agree more. Augusto Cury said take 15 seconds b/f respond. So many of these unfortuante negative comments come as knee-jerk responses.

  3. Martin Bentley Krebs Says:

    The best piece of career advice that my father gave me was “Always leave a job as if you might need it someday.” Some of my best references and most effective networking contacts have come from former employers and associates. Had I “burned those bridges” as I might have wanted to at the time, there would be nothing to look back on but failed expectations and a miserable reputation.

    I’ve passed that same advice on to many young co-workers as a result. Small-minded thinking usually leads to a much smaller field of employment options.

  4. Mark manion Says:

    You are so right on Dan, how many times have we blocked our blessing with negative thoughts and words. I know I certainly have been guilty of this behavior. More time in the word for me will help fix this character flaw. This was a timely message. Thanks, Mark

  5. Billie Says:

    So True! Today my 10 year old and I were waiting to pick up a pizza when we got stuck listening to a man complain bitterly about his ex-boss who so happens to be my daughter’s best-friend’s mom. It felt so toxic but proved to be a good lesson to teach her – I asked her what she felt about her friend’s mom and about the complainer. Her opinion of the complainer is real low. How we speak about others says more about ourselves.

    I have taught my child that it is important to respect others even when we disagree. It would be wonderful if we were to have some more respect for others, including the President whether it be Bush or Obama.

  6. Missie Says:

    So true! I work in an enviroment where the “word vomit” about co-worker spews constantly. It is SUPER hard not to get sucked in and get involved. I am going to save this post, because I constantly need to reminded that we are taught better and hopefully I can be the example to those I work with.

  7. admin Says:

    at the end of the day, the negative thoughts only hurt us.

  8. Markimus Says:

    Excellent, timely and ever needed word, Dan. So true, “…..Would you really want that person to hear the message straight from your mouth?” THAT is a great question to ask ourselves, real time, in every situation in which we feel some negative thoughts trying to rise up.

    Grace, grace, grace people.

  9. Better Way Says:

    Right on Dan!

    When things don’t go exactly our way we have a decision to make:
    Will we learn from the situation?
    Or will we be negative and hold a grudge?

    Sometimes we just have to let go, and let God. He has a plan. He is just. And He is good!

  10. Scott Says:

    I’ve learned that biting our tongue and teaching that behavior to our children can be difficult. I’ve been dealt a bad hand lately (laid off a month ago, wife has health issues, etc.) and I am trying to keep a positive attitude through it all. I easily could have blamed the company, my manager, etc. for the layoff and told them off, but I realize in this day, age and economy these things will happen, and I am eligible for rehire should business turn around. What does miff me a bit was listening to my co-workers constantly complain about the company, the managment, the systems… and I was the one laid off due to having the shortest tenure!

    Since I didn’t burn a previous bridge, I was blessed to land on my feet with an offer of my previous position that I had left 3 years ago due to a hostile work environment (things have changed!). So for now, the bridges are all still intact and my options are still open.

  11. Grace Says:

    Yah I have had to restrain myself to not say a negative word. If I say so many negatives about someone, I think back and say,I must be stinking, I need some cleanup. All those negatives from inside me…

    The best way is to never say a word when angry, give it time, pray, share, cry over it, scream, beat pillows. Do something, but do not say a word to the person or the situation.

    Then accept the reality and force yourself to say to the person or the situation thank you and walk away. It is a process that I have learn t and it has made me feel so good about myself.

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  13. Daisy Rose Says:

    Firstly, aren’t you bad-mouthing peole who bad-mouth and are therefore guilty of this ‘appalling’ habit yourself? And many a negitive critic can help forward people to do better work, achieve more and strive for a higher way of life. And who are you to judge who the wisest man on earrth is? Have you met all the men on earth, or even all the women. That statement that is an opinion, masquerading as a fact and can be very missleading without ‘negitive’ critisism.

  14. sharon Says:

    Good reminders to think BEFORE responding. I also get drawn into statements I regret more often than I want to be!

    Reminds me of my mom’s admonitions as I was growing up: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” which, I believe is based on a verse in Proverbs, which were attributed to King Solomon.

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