It will of course come as no shock to any one when I say you do not always like the people you work with. Hey, that’s OK! What is not OK is treating our colleagues with zero respect, no matter where they are in the hierarchy food chain of your office. Most people move companies but within the same industry. What this means is the same people are always mixing in the same circles. Why then are so many of us quick to burn bridges with people over petty disagreements?
I recently met a friend for coffee. She was moving companies the following week but at the same time was having a huge disagreement with a colleague. After our coffee she was going to speak her mind to this person:
“It doesn’t matter what I say to them as I am leaving next week”
In my shock to her aggressive reaction to this situation, I decided to advise her on why she should think before she spoke up. This is what I replied…….
Today’s junior **** is tomorrow’s senior partner.
I then expanded by telling her a true story that happened to me:
I met a girl in London through a social gathering with my friends, she was a friend of a friend type of thing. On first appearance she seemed lovely.
After a coffee she approached me and stated she needed to talk to me. At first I was puzzled as I really didn’t know who she was.
Approaching me with a jolly smile she explained her story to me. The reason she actually came to the social gathering was to speak to me. Odd, since we had never met. Her friend had informed her of the industry that I worked in. She also worked in this industry back in Australia where she was before the UK.
She had been in London for a few months and was finding it difficult to get interviews. This was also odd as her experience (if it was the truth) was impressive.
I sat with her for over an hour, sharing tips about industry. I went through all the big companies and pointed out the agencies or brands that were recruiting at the moment. I handed her my business card and thought no more of it.
The next day she sent me a very sweet email thanking me for helping her. She also requested if I could send her links to the companies I was talking to her about. I spent about 20 mins doing this. I didn’t mind as I would have liked to think someone would have helped me out in the same situation.
The next day, I received another email from her asking if I could recommend any more companies. I honestly didn’t know any more. So I did a little bit of research online and sent her the links. I also informed her that I could not personally recommend these companies, I just knew of them.
The request of asking for more information went on for 7 days. At this point I was getting a little bit frustrated as she was taking up a lot of my time. On the 8th day I received another email.
I could see the sender in my inbox and was dreading opening it. Luckily it was just a thank you! Thank goodness.
6 months has passed and I was searching for a new role. I was thrilled to hear that I have been successful to get an interview for a dream job. I was so excited. This was a brand I dreamed of working for! I had also been a loyal customer to them for some time so knew them inside and out.
On the morning of my interview, I get up early, go through my CV, put on my favorite interview outfit (Ted Baker mid length dress) and walk out the door while reciting positive comments in my head.
I arrive at the Brands HQ and I start to feel a sense of pride. I am taken to the interview room and asked to wait. I generally enjoy interviews as I find them a learning experience. The door makes a noise behind me and I stand up, turn around to greet the interviewer, then my face drops. It was the annoying lady who kept emailing me from Australia! Yes she was now interviewing me!
I could feel my hands start to sweat like I was in a Dubai summers day. I thought I had lost all hope of getting this Job. I remember feeling annoyed at her emails and couldn’t even remember if I had replied? Had I ? Everyone of them? Was I polite in my response?
Oh no, she probably just called me for an interview to gloat at me! A total nightmare.
I left that interview so worried I couldn’t even remember answering any questions. I just knew I had no chance.
Two days later I received an email to say I have been offered the job. I was in total shock! The HR manager that went on to tell me that the interviewer could not stop signing my praises and said she found me ever so pro-active when we crossed paths before.
What did that teach me? Never burn bridges professional, or in any aspect of your life. You never know when you might cross them again. Do not get me wrong, It is OK to phase negativity out of your life but you can conduct your self in a nice manner while doing it.
I have worked in many places over the past ten years and I am shocked to see so many people fall out with each other when they do not see eye to eye. Why do we as humans in the work place? Remember this one piece of advice someone gave me:
Who ever you pass on the way up, you have to pass on the way down!
My friend who I told this story to still tells me how much it resonated with her. She really took it on board. She is called me to tell me that there was a time she had to go back to the person she wanted to fall out with and ask a favour. Good thing she thought about it before she severed all ties with her.
What are your thoughts? Tell us your stories and let us know if you have burnt bridges and what was the consequence?