The term “burning one’s bridges” is an idiom that dates back to the days of Ancient Rome. During wartime, the aggressors would burn their enemy’s bridges so they would be forced to fight, having no way to retreat. The phrase “burning bridges” has grown in popularity during the 21st century and is used in all walks of life.
The Urban Dictionary defines burning bridges as “ an act of unpleasantly and permanently ending relations with another person or an organization.
The act of burning bridges is a common phrase used to describe what one says or how one acts with others to eliminate the chances of having a lasting relationship. You can burn bridges with personal friends, romantic partners, employers, business associates, and organizations.
As medical professionals, we have strong opinions about our worth and preferred arrangements when negotiating an opportunity to contract directly for locums, part-time, full-time, or any other non-traditional role with a facility. Our views and demands do not always align with what a facility wants to offer. That is why we negotiate! The aim is to find common ground that benefits all parties.
Not all negotiations go as you would like, but by no means should you ever “burn bridges” with a facility. Even if things do not work out, you never know when that facility may call you back. Staying in good graces with a facility might open up other doors in the future.
We provide ten ways to avoid burning bridges with a facility the next time you attempt to contract directly.
Avoid pissing off the lowest man (or woman) on the totem pole. No matter whom you interact with, treat them with respect. Facilities gossip, and you don’t want to be the focus of their gossip. Word gets around, and high-level administrators take how you treat others in their building seriously. The medical community is small, so if you don’t get along with someone, you may encounter them at another location.
Avoid any delays in communication. Facilities want to work with responsive folks. We are professionals, so act like it. Return emails and calls promptly and get the requested paperwork done on time.
Avoid email fatigue and miscommunications. It’s easy to avoid verbal confrontation and type out an email these days. The problem is that the tone in your email may be misunderstood, and administrators do not want a long string of back-and-forth emails. Sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and have a conversation than ruin a chance at a great opportunity.
Avoid looking like a slob. If you interview via videoconferencing or in person, look the part! Dress appropriately and have your hair neat. And for the men, shave or groom your beard and consider some hair gel, not too much, however.
Avoid foul language. All eyes are on you! Even though it can be fun to cuss and tell jokes, it can wait.
Avoid asking for too much money. An easy way to burn bridges is to ask for an insane compensation rate that does not align with fair market value. Before negotiating your compensation rate, collect data about the facility and research what fair compensation would be. Nothing wrong with asking for slightly more than what you think you might get but don’t be the one to ask for an insane amount.
Avoid renegotiating something that has already been settled. Don’t go back on your word! If you agree to something, then accept it. Don’t get caught changing your mind and stall the progress made in the negotiations.
Avoid stringing them along. Don’t mislead a facility into thinking you are interested in a position when you are not. Ask for transparency upfront about the position and clearly communicate what you are looking for. If you find out the facility is not a good fit for you, then let them know. Don’t get caught gaslighting a facility!
Avoid negotiation fatigue. It’s essential to recognize that you can only propose so many counteroffers until the negotiations run sour. Recognize that no facility wants to continue the back and forth of negotiating for weeks and months. It’s best to be upfront with the facility about your demands and what you are willing to negotiate. Unlike boxing, negotiating should only go a few rounds, not all 12.
Avoid ghosting them. Never ghost them, even if the facility is not a good fit for you. Try to end the negotiations on good terms, even if it does not work out. You never know when your paths may cross again. If negotiations don’t go well, you have the option to decline it gracefully and remind them to contact you in the future if anything changes. Please leave a good email and phone number for them to reach you.
Not all negotiations go splendidly. We don’t always see eye to eye with others. We all have different motives and missions when negotiating a contract. Although you may disagree with a facility’s offer or become frustrated with their inability to alter the agreement, never go so far as to burn any bridges with them. You never know when they might try to reconnect with you or share your name with another facility.