Playing the Political Game: Don’t Burn Bridges

With the Legislature starting soon, here’s some political advice:

Big victories and crushing defeats are inherent in politics. And along with the wins and losses come emotional ups and downs. At all levels of politics, it's easy to get mad, to hold grudges and to want to get even. Some of the nastiest battles are in neighborhood organizations, city councils and county commissions. Politics attracts big egos that are sensitive and easily bruised. Making and maintaining enemies is part of the game for some politicians.

But the smartest and best politicians don't burn bridges. Anyone who is in politics very long soon realizes that today's enemy will probably be tomorrow's ally. Issues come and go and coalitions form, disband and reform with different players. Anyone who makes real and permanent enemies hampers their chances at long-term success. It's fine to fight hard and debate hard, but once the votes are counted, it's silly and childish to hold grudges and stay angry.

In the high-tech world, Novell founder Ray Noorda coined the term "co-opetition." Sometimes you compete vigorously. Sometimes you cooperate fully. That applies in politics as well as in the technology industry.

Don't take things personally. Stay calm. Get away for a while, and then make up with your opponents. Don't burn bridges because it's almost guaranteed you'll need to work together with former opponents in the future.