Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


Rebuilding A Burned Bridge - June 20, 2015

We’ve all heard the saying – don’t burn a bridge – but can a bridge be rebuilt?


An old college friend was going through a pretty tough time about three years ago. His wife asked him for a divorce shortly after he experienced a death in the family while at the same time his company was being acquired with his position in jeopardy. Needless to say, he wasn’t in the best of moods, and his temper got the best of him. When questioned by a member of the acquiring management team about his sales performance, Bill took the tone and type of questioning very personally, and he snapped back at this management team member. When further questioned by his own, longtime manager, he commented about his displeasure with the line of questioning and walked out of the meeting. His employment was immediately terminated.


Bill, believe it or not, while going through a series of personal issues was able to land another sales position within a few short weeks with another pharmaceutical company in Charlotte, NC. He agreed to the terms of divorce with his now-ex-wife in a rather amicable proceeding and he quietly began to rebuild his life.


Fast forward to now. Bill has an opportunity to interview with a new pharmaceutical company in Raleigh, NC. His only daughter moved there last year for school and this would be an opportunity not only to advance his career, but also to be closer to her. But, low and behold, he must interview with his former manager for the position. This is the person for whom he turned his back on, walked out of the meeting, and had not spoken to since then. Did I mention they had worked together for 10 years successfully?


Bill feels as though he not only burned this bridge but that he may not be able to mend the relationship. My advice to Bill was this…say you’re sorry. It’s that simple…apologize.


Bill has an opportunity to mend his former relationship, but he must first admit his faults, and he must apologize. He needs to bear his sole, so to speak, and he must explain what he was facing on a personal level. Then, he must show how he has overcome these past professional indiscretions, and he must showcase how he’s grown.


There is no guarantee that the bridge burned can be rebuilt. And this does not always occur. But, coming to grips with his own shortcomings and mistakes, admitting as much to his former manager, may be what is necessary to move forward. If you’ve ever burned a bridge and felt that you needed to rebuild it, consider the steps it will take to make amends.

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