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One of the most frequently repeated pieces of career advice is to never burn bridges. Ever. That means refusing to badmouth former bosses or colleagues or even sever ties with folks who no longer serve a purpose in your professional life. After all, you never know when your paths might cross again…

But in a recent Daily Muse post titled “3 Professional Bridge You Should Most Definitely Burn This Year,” managing editor Jenni Maier makes the case for why there are several people you can kick to the curb in 2016. Plus, she says, “you can do it so nicely that you won’t actually burn any bridges at all.”

The first person on her list: “the former coworker you have nothing in common with.” Oh, there was some bond somewhere along the way — some minute thing you could chat about at the holiday party or during happy hour drinks — but it’s no longer enough to warrant the effort it takes to stay in touch. Fortunately, Maier says, the other person probably feels the same way, so next time there are plans to hang, say you’re busy. You’ll be doing both of you a favor.

Next up: “the networker who won’t leave you alone.” One of the first rules of networking is to be polite and not constantly badger other people for introductions and advice, and if you have someone in your life who’s constantly hounding you with questions and offering nothing in return, do like Maier says and dish out some “tough love.” This person is probably a young grad or someone just starting out — tell ’em their approach is all wrong, and if they don’t want to, ya know, burn bridges, they need to take it down a notch.

Finally, Maier turns to “the colleagues you only talked to because you had to.” You know these people — the tech folks you call when your email crashes or the payroll peeps who make sure your expense invoices go through. For years, you felt obligated to invite them to stuff, but once you change jobs, it’s totally fine, Maier says, to cut the lines of communication. “While you shouldn’t go out of your way to be exclusive,” she cautions, “you’re allowed to remove him from your mental friends listserv.”


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