How to Make the Most of Professional Disappointment

How to deal with work rejection

Plenty of managers or people vying for the next career step tend to go through a sine curve of emotions at various points in their careers. Maybe it is your new big idea that got turned down, or the fact that you got ignored for the promotion you had been secretly expecting. Worse still, the person you least expected to rise, got a great job, we all go through these emotions. Even the tons of times your job applications fall through or getting rejections within an hour leaving you wondering if anyone even read your application. Similar to real life relationships, work rejection is not uncommon.

Learn how to turn professional rejection into a blessing in disguise

Work rejections can be serious – maybe you get fired

There are plenty of reasons why this can happen. The point is you need to be mentally prepared. It will not feel nice, and it must not feel nice. However, you need to dissociate the feelings from the facts. Think about it objectively. Why did it happen? What could you have done better? Was it about you, or did the company just follow a different path? You do not need to struggle with these questions alone. Get onto that meeting room and ask your supervisor or mentor. Understand the business realities and get your feedback sorted. Do not defend or show anger. Be calm and hear the facts from the other side. Usually, a calm demeanor can unsettle the other side, and they may get defensive in fact. It doesn’t matter whose fault it is. The fact of the matter is that you will need to find a way out. Always remember this: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Getting out of work rejections: What’s the worst that could happen?

We already discussed the worst above. Getting fired. Not pretty. Does not feel pretty. And keep up that feeling of dissatisfaction around it. Now, divert this energy to create something new. Ask yourself the key question objectively: were you happy at your workplace? If not fired or rejected, would you continue working there? Did your work culture allow you to experience and extend your boundaries as a professional?

If your fear of being rejected is preventing you from taking a risk, whether it be career or relationship related, don’t let it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always “No.” And if the answer is “No,” well you’ll just be back in the same place as if you hadn’t asked. So why not risk it? Keep thinking of solutions, keep applying to positions you want, keep taking steps towards what you want. Doing nothing after an initial rejection will never help you succeed, trying again might.

Work rejection including team/colleague relationships

Did you go through a scene where many office colleagues asked you if you were in a party the last evening, when you hadn’t really been invited? It can happen often and perhaps you are the person who often gets ignored. There’s nothing to feel bad about. It is true that, work colleagues are under no obligation to connect with you. The idea would be to find the underlying reasons why this may be happening. Some clues from our side:

1) Simple conversations with you can get difficult -> offer help, develop empathy, go through self-evaluation

2) You feel under appreciated in general -> Talk to your boss, explicitly state this

3) No one knows who you are or can remember your name -> Develop your personal brand, showcase yourself as an expert

4) People in your workplace are mean -> Talk to individuals, share constructive feedback, ask and share how you feel -> Talk to your boss, come up with solutions on improving workplace culture -> worse: find another job

5) Teams are siloed and often do not talk to each other in general -> Share insights on how this impacts the bottom line and what can be done to improve -> talk to your boss or management -> worse: find another job

6) Sometimes when the feelings are not mutual, it may be better to respect that and move on

How to deal with work rejection

  • Do not make it personal. Do not make it about you. Do not get defensive. Take action. Fight back.
  • Ask yourself why you have been rejected and more importantly, how can you alter that (if possible). This means: What could you do better? (Some previous tips we have talked about in this space)
  • Create meaningful connections that matter rather than a thousand disconnected fans. (It works for individuals as much as it does for firms.)
  • Invest in your career. Learn new skills, impress your superiors, find new opportunities, stay connected with your networks!
  • Work relationships must be mutual. If you do not respect yourself, no one is obliged to follow. Get some pride.

Hopefully if you ever have to go through any such tough emotions of work rejection you will find the strength to hit back and deal with it in a creative manner. Like most things in life, it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise!



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