Adopted from Anglophone usage, it gives a nice metaphor and recommendation for jobs, professional contacts and relationships: Never burn bridges that you may have to walk over again. When you Break off bridges, you only leave scorched earth and at the same time cancel any future opportunity. Breaking bridges has consequences – not always only positive ones. With every bridge, a relationship is lost that is difficult to restore. A risky approach, especially on the job, where contacts can make the difference between professional success and failure. But no rule without exceptions. Sometimes it’s actually better if you burn all bridges behind you and draw a line under it. What reasons there may be for this and how you can manage to rebuild a bridge…
➠ Contents: What to expect
Definition: What it means to burn bridges?
No real stones are needed to burn the metaphorical bridges, relationship bridges are not burned by actual fire. Burning a bridge means you’ve done something Finish for good. This can best be understood with a simple example:
Separations are not only a difficult time privately, but also do not always proceed amicably professionally. Trouble at work, disputes with the boss or other colleagues, or just plain frustration at being laid off can lead to leaving a company rather unsightly runs. Anger erupts outward, accusations are made and perhaps something along the lines of I am so happy to never have to work with you again said.
In short, working with this boss again is unlikely to be on the table – even in the future, even if the supervisor is hired by another employer. This is exactly the biggest problem when you break off a bridge. He who crosses a bridge and burns it behind him, thereby makes a Way back impossible. You draw a line and make an irrevocable decision.
Once a bridge has been broken off, the initial situation can hardly be restored again. You have Crossroads found and chose your way.
From Tom Stoppard is the quote that goes with it:
We cross bridges and burn them behind us, and have nothing to show for it except the hunch, the memory of the acrid smoke, and the hunch that our eyes were full of tears.
Such a breakup is never nice and leaves traces for both of us. But with time the memory of what we left behind fades – people, jobs, material things. But above all they remind us of unpleasant things. A real new beginning can often only succeed for those who courageously say goodbye to the old, and we do not contradict them look ahead judges. It’s the same with the deceased: first they are thoroughly mourned, then the estate is cleared away and life is resumed.
Why you should tear down relationship bridges
Not all Relationships are the same. Some are better, some worse, some even toxic.
The usual (and conciliatory) Advice then reads:
You can’t change people, you can only change your thinking about them.
And if even that doesn’t work, then break off the relationship – But without parting in rancor. Just without having to break a bridge, over which you could go again, because you always meet twice.
Of course, we fully understand what the deeper meaning behind this recommendation is. Dem Core thoughts we also do not contradict: It is absolutely correct.
However, it is also true that
We may not be able to change the people around us, but we can change our environment.
And sometimes this is the only sensible option – even more so when one has to realize (painfully): The or the other will never change, but harms us every time. No matter whether professionally or privately.
Unfortunately, there are people who have an infectious character. Their destructive actions and their destabilizing effect transfers itself on all in its environment and all the more on those, which want to help them. Whoever exposes himself to the influence of the emotionally unstable and the incurably dissatisfied will inevitably be pulled into the abyss by them.
Just like Cassius, over the William Shakespeare his Julius Caesar says:
I know no one whom I would rather like than this gaunt Cassius … Such men are never at rest, as long as they see someone greater than themselves. That is what makes them so dangerous.
Admitted, Scorched earth and torn bridges dramatically reduce the chances for new compromises, change and reconciliation. But they also open up new horizons and the chance to build other bridges.
Even though this should always be the final step, the last option – here is the rule: break off contact once and for all. They otherwise only waste valuable Lifetime and risk negative contagion on top of that.
Good Reasons: When you should burn a bridge
The hardest thing in life is to recognize which bridges to cross and which to burn. At the risk of sounding irreconcilable: For the second case, we would have three plausible Suggestions and good reasons when you should break a bridge:
You are lied to repeatedly and deliberately
Okay, everybody lies or does not tell the whole truth. Some white lies even serve to protect the person, so as not to hurt them. But people whose habitus includes deliberate lying are something else. Not only do they entangle themselves deeper and deeper in their lies and spinning, but they also entangle everyone who plays a role in it. Eventually, this gives rise to rumors and slander: He supposedly said this, she did that… All lies and lies, but in series not harmless. You cannot cure a notorious liar. There is only one thing that helps: End the guest performance in the drama and break off the bridge – permanently.
You are being taken advantage of
Resilient, stable relationships are based on give and take – also in this order. However, there are also people from the tribe Take. It doesn’t matter if it’s ignorance, insensitivity or bad manners: these guys will only suck you dry and make you feel like it’s worth it at some point, at best. But it does not, it never does. The truth is: you are being brutally and thoroughly exploited. Accept the bitter realization – and say no. Final.
They are abused
We are not talking about sexual abuse (although that is of course also a reason to break off all contact immediately and forever and to report the perpetrator), but about intellectual. In the still gentle form on the job, this abuse reveals itself, for example, through regular theft of ideas in the office. But it becomes more dramatic when this continues as manipulation and on an emotional level. In that case, someone takes advantage of your sensitivity or even empathy to indoctrinate, corrupt, or suggest lies to you. Such demagogues are extremely dangerous, because they believe they can play with people like puppets.
Caution! When you should not leave scorched earth
Where there are good reasons to break off a bridge, there are also bad reasons why you should not finally destroy a contact. One of them is a too injured – often too big – ego. Just because you don’t like that someone else contradicted you, was better than you, or didn’t give you the attention you were hoping for, that’s no reason to want to burn a bridge.
The second bad reason for which you should not burn a bridge is to frustration. On the job, there can be countless understandable triggers that frustrate you. The boss may be really incompetent, the colleagues annoying and the working atmosphere unbearable – all these are possible reasons for a job change, but should not cause you to break the bridge for good.
You can never know when and where you will meet the disagreeable colleague or the bad boss again. Maybe it’s in another job, perhaps as a business partner on a project or on some other occasion. In the worst case, you may even have to cooperate in the future or be forced to do so by circumstances. If you break a bridge purely out of frustration, you cannot estimate how this will turn out at a later date can still have an impact.
Rebuild bridges: Here’s how it can work
Whether for good reasons or in The heat of the moment: Anyone can get into the situation where he leaves scorched earth, and burned bridges instead of keeping the way back open. Should you then realize that you have made a mistake, it already seems to be too late.
One thing is certain: rebuilding a bridge will never be easy. You have one leaving a shambles behind, Which you now want to put back together like a jigsaw puzzle. This requires time, great effort on your part and always the willingness of the other side to help you rebuild – or at least not to block it immediately.
Fortunately, the many people are willing, to forgive a misstep and give it a second chance – if you make an effort to do so. Of course, there is no guarantee and some people will certainly remain stubborn and avoid contact with you altogether.
For the other cases we have some tips collected to rebuild broken bridges and make scorched earth fertile again:
At least make the attempt
Burned bridges always seem very final and you quickly get the feeling that the effort is not worth it at all. With this attitude, however, it is also clear that it can’t work and not infrequently there is only the shame behind it to get in touch with the other person again. However, it is definitely worth a try and you may end up with much more than you bargained for. As the saying goes: He who fights, may lose. Who does not fight, has already lost.
Recognize the causes of your behavior
Before a bridge can be rebuilt, you should first understand why you burned it in the first place. Frustration, though not a good one, is one of the most common reasons for abandoned bridges. Question and reflect on what triggered this frustration. Did you feel badly treated or did the behavior or a certain remark piss you off? If you know the causes of your own behavior, you can focus on starting from scratch.
If you want to rebuild a bridge, don’t start by blaming others. It is impossible to reconstruct a broken relationship if you blame the other person and accuse him or her of being responsible for the breakup. Stand by your behavior and also admit that you reacted and acted wrongly. By taking responsibility, you also show that you have moved on and that you really care about making a difference.
Try to make it up to you
Words are a good start, but of course they should be followed by actions that show you really care about making amends. This is not always easy, but especially if your counterpart is not a resentful person, he will already recognize your good will and show himself conciliatory.
Get over it
New bridges are not built on the ashes of the predecessors. It is therefore imperative that you have overcome the old incidents and no longer harbor inner resentment against the person. If this is the case, you only make the situation worse and sooner or later it comes to a renewed dispute. Leave the old problems where they belong: In the past.
Do not give up too quickly
No, unfortunately, rebuilding a burned bridge is not easy. It requires overcoming and perseverance. If things don’t work out right away, you don’t have to hang your head in frustration and call it a day. Stay on the ball and try again. Sometimes it takes a little time to break the ice a second time and to meet again at eye level.