When you leave a job, you might be tempted to leave with a bang, telling the people around you exactly what you think of them. That, however, is a scenario best acted out in the movies, not in real life. Whatever immediate thrills you might gain from such a dramatic moment of unfiltered honesty will be more than offset by the long-term problems you create.
How can you resist the temptation to burn bridges? The answer is to take the long view. Think about how life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Years later, you may run into the very people you think you are now leaving behind forever.
So bite your tongue. If you detest your soon-to-be former boss or co-workers, confide that emotion to your partner, your friends, or your diary, but not to the object of your scorn. Be especially careful about what you write on the internet. Bridges burnt in writing can be the hardest to repair. While the words you speak to another person may eventually be forgotten, what you write online can stay there forever.
If you have second thoughts and delete what you wrote online, it will probably be too late. Someone may have copied your words and forwarded them to someone else, where they will always be beyond your reach. Or a site where you posted your complaints may be preserved in any one of various internet archive sites, which take snapshots of pages as they existed in different moments of time and preserve them for posterity.
Even if you leave your job on good terms, it’s easy to accidentally burn bridges simply by neglecting to keep in touch with people after you move on to your next job. If you’re still living in the same area, try to meet some of your friends from your old job for lunch now and then. Do what it takes to keep the connections alive, and you will benefit from them for the rest of your working life.
There’s an old saying that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know that determines career success. In reality, both what you know and who you know matter a lot. Every job you take creates a valuable opportunity to meet people who will help you later on. Don’t throw that opportunity away by being impulsive and burning down valuable bridges.
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