Archive for July 8th, 2009

Burned any (job) bridges lately?

July 8, 2009
  • You resigned and told them what you really think.
  • You were laid off and told them what you really think.
  • In a performance appraisal, you spoke what was truly on your mind.
  • You told an underling what you really think about his/her performance.
  • A problem co-worker got promoted after doing less than you do, and someone asked you what you think about it.

In your answer, you may have burned a few bridges that could have furthered your career, or at least enhanced your professional reputation.

It’s understandable, we’ve all done it, and it remains a mistake.  Describing your job in anything less than positive terms always carries a risk.  Of course, it felt wonderful for a moment or two.  You had carried these negative feelings for quite a while, and you got pushed too far.  Incompetence, unethical practices, prejudice, favoritism, clique-ish behavior, and being ignored can build up internally, and most of us have expressed these feelings to the wrong people, at the wrong time.

Stop! Remember that jobs are hard to come by these days, remember that loyalty just might be rewarded, remember that you may need to be a better self-promoter.  A graceful exit is worth a lot these days.  You don’t need to stay in a negative situation, but it may take some time to find a more comfortable situation.

You need to practice your reaction to the above-cited situation.  How about these possibilities?

  • I learned a great deal in this job, and I plan to carry that information with me to the new place.
  • I will miss the chance to enhance my skills in customer interaction.
  • Yes, I agree that I need to be more accurate in my work, and here’s what I’m doing about it…
  • Timely attendance at work is of prime importance, and I have some concern about your record.
  • Joe is enthusiastic about his job, and I hope he will be encouraged to continue to grow.

Pollyanna-ish?  Yes, it is.  But you will gain nothing except momentary satisfaction in badmouthing, backstabbing, or whining.  You’ll feel proud to be the person who can put a positive spin on a negative situation, at least on the job.

If you would like some counseling on how to make the best of a bad situation, in particular, how to plan a positive exit strategy, please contact me.  There are steps you can take that will keep you on the occupational high road. Please contact me at or leave a note here.