Are you strengthening your bridges or burning them?

It’s a small world out there and  the advent of social media makes us even more connected than ever.  We want to put our best face forward and build on these relationships through Skype, phone calls, person-to-person meetings or working on projects together.  We endorse our supporters through our blogs post or videos as a way to thank them.  Just because I choose not endorse a project you strongly believe in doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.  We all do our best to highlight and reach out to as many of our networks as possible.

I recently asked Marilyn Terrell @Marilyn_Res to join me with a specific project.  She politely asked me to spare her from that particular task.  Her humor made me laugh and I appreciated her candor even more.  I didn’t take it personally and told her that it was okay, and that I would reach out to her on the next round.  It’s important to respect the person’s decision; don’t push the point, just work towards finding someone else that may be a better fit for your proposal.

“Every person is a new door to a different world.” — Six Degrees of Separation

Although I am always grateful to be listed on endorsement lists, if I haven’t made the list, then I will think to myself “Perhaps next round, or next year.”  A word of advice:  Don’t confront the writer and hound them to explain why you didn’t make the list.  Do you really want to have to explain to the author why you should be on the such-and-such list? Your work should have been enough to justify being included, use the situation as fuel for inspiration.  Focus on improving on your work (or yourself!) and surround yourself with people who will support you.

If you feel that you were unjustly excluded, ask yourself this question before confronting the author:  Did I behave in a way to earn the cold-shoulder treatment?  I am wary of confrontation because I know that it can put me in a very “sticky” situation—the more we discuss the “whys”, the less the other person is happy with the situation, and this feeling is aggravated by continued conversation.

Have you ever heard of the term “tar-baby” by Joel Chandler Harris?  {read further}  It’s a very appropriate term for the situation I just described.

To me, some things are better left alone, or left unsaid.

When collaborating on projects, being honest, open and supportive are the keys to successful long-term relationships.  If the outcome wasn’t as you imagined or hoped it would be, fess up!  Don’t make excuses or make things up; it will only entangle you deeper into a situation you can’t escape.  Don’t bully your supporters in the stream into helping you ease the guilt.  Instead, try apologizing and admit you underestimated the outcome.  If you ask for help, I assure you that the majority of the team will put their thinking caps on and do whatever they can to remedy the situation.

“A positive mind has extra solving power.” — Alexander Lockhart

Don’t over promise what you cannot deliver, and don’t tell tomorrow’s news.  Boasting what you imagine will happen and coming up empty-handed makes it very awkward, and nearly impossible, to sell yourself the next round.  Follow-through is essential, because even if it doesn’t always work out, your partner will appreciate an honest explanation.  Don’t make up excuses, because usually the person will be able to see straight through them.

It’s true—we have to base our decisions in reality, and things are not always as perfect as we want them to be. Cooperation and nourishment is necessary in a team environment, yet there are times when a negative situation can’t be made positive.  However, choosing to surround yourself with positive and drama-free team members will ultimately benefit you and your project.

I try to provide helpful suggestions in my blog, yet this was a hard one to share.  That said, I see this happening quite a bit and thought it would be useful to contribute something positive on the subject.  We have all been in these situations at some point in our lives, and it’s not always easy to see them as a learning experience.  There are some bridges that can be mended with hard work and honesty; however, when the bond of trust has been severed, it’s best to learn the lesson and move forward.

“I believe that the imagination is the passport we create to take us into the real world.  I believe the imagination is another phrase for what is most uniquely us.” ― John Guare

Go and make 2013 a magical year!

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21 Replies to “Are you strengthening your bridges or burning them?

  1. Your title lured me in to reading this post as bridges, especially social ones, are something that I mean a lot to me.

    I agree wholeheartedly that there is social gain all round if we learn to listen and respect others and see them as human beings who are co-travellers through life ~ with its ups and downs. Co-operation, in the broadest sense, even if this means accepting that people cannot collaborate ‘this time,’ is fundamental.

  2. Hi Ann!

    Awesome post. It is important to look at yourself first. Getting listed is great (I’ve not got listed anywhere ever :)) but most important thing is to understand why were you not listed or to get an answer to “Is getting listed so important to me that I should as for it”. I don’t think anything is worth it.


    Have an awesome 2013!

    1. Hello,

      I will have to invite you to contribute to one of my top 10 series in the near future. Thank you so much for all your comments. I really appreciate them all.


  3. Excellent explanation of how to consider tricky situations of all sorts. While I value communication and engagement, sometimes there is nothing more to say or do. Moving forward, having learned from our difficult experiences, is often the most graceful, kind, and responsible action of all. Thanks Ann.

    1. Hello Angie,

      Yes, To me, some things are better left alone, or left unsaid.

      Love your comment!

      Happy New Year,

  4. Great points Ann. I often see even with myself we dream big, but often times fall short. It’s a great feeling when surrounded by positive people whom understand…

  5. Great advice Ann. I find that we often lose more time focusing on what cannot be … and in the process lose out on something that may have been wonderful. “moving forward” as you say is very important. A happy new year to you.

  6. Love the advice about letting the misses roll off your back. I see a lot of bloggers needlessly competing instead of just writing. Well said!

    1. Hi Kim-Marie,

      Someone will always break your records. It is how we play this thing called life that counts.

      HappY NҼw YҼAr!

    1. Hi Felicia,

      What a wonderful thing it is to be clever and have common sense : ) Thank you for stopping by.

      HappY NҼw YҼAr!

  7. Great post as usual Ann 🙂

    I really like “Six Degrees..” quote: “Every person is a new door to a different world.” Incredibly true. Interaction with others is what opens up new options — just when you thought you had discovered them all 🙂

  8. What a great article. Good manners tact, courtesy, and accepting no gracefully are traits that never go out of style.

    No isn’t the end of the world; it simply means you haven’t asked the right person yet :0)

    1. Hi Aileen,

      I like your response : ) No, it isn’t the end of the world; it simply means you haven’t asked the right person yet :0)

      Happy New Year!

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