"Burning bridges burns relationships' building bridges strengthens them."
In business we think that burning bridges doesn’t matter – if a relationship doesn’t work then just move along to the next one. The problem with burning bridges is that the very people and organisations you end up burning could turn out to be your biggest nightmare. That’s why it’s always better to strengthen relationship through problem solving and trouble shooting. Here are four ways you can strengthen a bridge instead of burning it.
1: Listen to what the partner is saying before rushing to judgement:
what can often happen as relationships turn sour is that we stop listening and do a lot of talking. In doing so we tend to start believing more of what we are saying. It’s like that old adage “believing in your own P.R” – the problem with believing in everything you say, rightly or wrongly, is that more often than not you fail to hear the other side of the story; and yes, there are always two sides to a story. The first step is to listen to what is being said before reacting.
2: Wait 24 hours before responding:
the temptation is to respond to a problem immediately and with force. When that happens we tend to let our emotions get the better of us and when that happens a bridge can be well and truly burnt. Always try and not respond right away. Having listened to the problem and all sides of the story sit on it, dwell on it, work it through your mind and seek third party advice. In other words, run the scenarios through with a trusted friend of colleague. In doing so your response is more likely going to be reasoned and well thought out. Even if someone tries to illicit a response from you don’t do it. Say “thanks for the email (or note / phone call). Let me consider what you’ve told me and I’ll come back to you within 24 hours.”
3: Come up with options to solve the problem:
there is more than one way to approach a problem and there are certainly a variety of solutions to solve one. More often than not people are looking to solve problems or come to an agreement. The last thing everyone wants to see is a breakdown. Look for the common ground between the parties and negotiate an outcome that is fair and in the interests of all people. You can do that by sitting down and mapping out what scenarios might unfold if you put forward solutions a or b or c. The reality of problem solving when offering solutions is that agreement will often be reaching common ground.
4: Its ok to bring in a third party to mediate.
There is nothing wrong with mediating to reach a solution. If all else fails bring someone in that is able to work between the parties to formulation a solution and seek agreement. A general rule of thumb is that each of the parties is saying the same thing using different words or ways of outlining a problem. You’ll find that by introducing a third party into the equation they will be able to identify those common areas of agreement and then navigate through the areas where you both disagree.
The key to strengthening bridges is that it can lead to greater success and productivity in a relationship or a partnership. It leads to a better understanding of what each party brings to the table, a better appreciation of the personalities involved and even the different approaches to how one see a problem and the other sees a solution. Wherever possible try not to be in the bridge burning business.
About the author: Matthew Tukaki is the founder of EntreHub.org, the fastest growing news content builder for small business, start-ups and entrepreneurs. He is also the founder of the Sustain Group and the former head of one of the world’s oldest employment companies, Drake International. He is also currently Chair of Australia’s National Coalition for Suicide Prevention and Deakin University CSaRO. He is the bestselling author of a range of eBooks such as the entrepreneurs pocket eBook and how small business can better manage cash flow. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. www.entrehub.org @tukakimatt @entrehub
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