Don’t Burn Your Bridges

Don’t Burn Your Bridges

Emotional intelligence or EQ may be more important than actual IQ for building an outstanding career. People skills can make all the difference. The practical advice about not burning your bridges is common wisdom passed down for generations to young adults as they enter the workforce. A graceful exit is the only way to go for professionals who want to be in a favourable negotiation position with excellent references when it is time to discuss employee entitlements like salary, leave and benefits for a new position.

Don’t Gossip about Leaving

As tempting as it can be to vent to a trusted friend about why you are so happy to be leaving, you must resist the urge. The rumor mill is alive and well in most companies, so you can’t trust anyone. Even the most trusted colleagues have been known to spread gossip, perhaps believing they can trust the person they tell. Your future career can be permanently damaged if you make the bad decision to share your complaints. The long-term risk isn’t worth the momentary pleasure you might enjoy as the result of sharing a juicy bit of gossip.

Professional connections and strategic alliances are crucial for career success. Gripes about entitlements and employees who don’t measure up should never be discussed so you don’t burn bridges.

Write a Professional Resignation Letter

Even in cases where a verbal resignation is the first step taken to sever the employer/employee relationship, a resignation letter should also be written. It is important to remember that this letter will probably be saved in your personnel file. With that in mind, it is important to stick with a basic template when writing a resignation letter. The information included should be the date you are resigning, when your last day will be and your signature. Don’t go into details that could be misconstrued.

Share Positive Feedback about Your Experience

If it is at all possible, provide positive feedback with supervisors and human resource professionals during the exit interview or when verbally resigning. The only time this may not be appropriate is in cases where harassment has forced an employee’s recognition.

Thanking a supervisor for contributing to personal development is always a nice touch. Everyone likes to hear compliments. Employees should remember to thank the people who helped them succeed.

Give Adequate Notice

While there is no legal requirement to give notice unless a contractual obligation requires it, it is customary to do so. Giving notice is considered to be a professional courtesy. The minimal amount of notice recommended for lower level positions is two weeks. For higher-level positions, it is customary to follow corporate protocol and to give a reasonable notice based on what is necessary for a smooth transition.

The Exit Interview

The exit interview is a common practice for many companies. Disgruntled employees should never use this time to discuss all the terrible problems the company has. Frustration over entitlements that are lacking or other employees are not welcome. Emotional intelligence or EQ should steer employees away from words that will risk alienating strategic alliances and professional connections.

Do What You Can to Ease the Transition for the Company

Emotional intelligence or EQ suggests that one way to preserve professional connections and strategic alliances is to ensure that you don’t leave these people in a bad situation when you leave the company. Employees on the way out should leave meticulous notes and help train other people so they know how to proceed with projects left unfinished.


Making a job change can be stressful and emotional, requiring the employee to carefully plan ahead of time to ensure a smooth transition. Dependant on positive references and feedback far into the future, it is essential for smart employees to leave on a good note.

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