A few months ago, I was on a conference call with opposing counsel to negotiate a client’s deal. Things got a little heated (the only time I’ve ever experienced a hostile communication with another attorney) and eventually I got hung up on. I was about to call the attorney back and show him what I learned from 15 years of listening to gangsta rap, but thankfully I didn’t.
Was I upset? Sure.
What it have felt great to go 2pac on the other attorney? Very Sure.
Would I have regretted it 2 minutes later? Extremely Sure.
Instead, I waited a day and called the attorney back. We ironed out the terms of the deal and got it done. Everybody was happy.
But here’s an even better example of why you don’t burn bridges unnecessarily: Three weeks later, another client of mine asks me to handle an acquisition. He gives me the contact information for the other company’s lawyer. You guessed it…the same lawyer.
If I had burned the bridge with that lawyer, it could have negatively affected my client’s current deal. Or, it could have gotten me removed from the transaction. Luckily, both were avoided.
As an entrepreneur, there will undoubtedly be frustrating moments where you will reach a boiling point and be tempted to let it rain fire on a co-founder, employee, vendor, or other 3rd party. In these situations, don’t throw your MacBook against the wall or burn bridges with other people.
Burning bridges is a short-term (emotional) solution with long-term implications. Of course, there will be situations where a relationship can not be salvaged, but those situations are rarities. And your startup will be better off the rarer they are.