There are no ifs, ands, or butts about it: Rejection plain ol’ sucks. And, that fact rings true for absolutely everybody—even the people who seem to react like it doesn’t phase them in the slightest.
But, unfortunately, rejection is also an inevitable part of life—particularly your professional life. Whether you get turned down for the job you wanted, passed up on for that promotion, or are coping with a discouraging industry downturn, rejection is an unpleasant reality that you need to learn to deal with.
Deal with it? You and I both know that’s a lot easier said than done. That’s exactly where this week’s “Dear Kat” question comes into play:
“Dear Kat, I understand that rejection is a normal part of life and that it can even be something that you can learn from. But, as much as I hate to say it, I’m terrible at dealing with rejection. I always take it too personally. I really want to be able to swallow my pride and extract some value from that less-than-desirable situation. Do you have any tips?”
First of all, you’re right in describing rejection as a “less-than-desirable” situation. Ultimately, nobody enjoys getting that dreaded, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Unfortunately, after you’ve been turned down, there isn’t a lot you can control about the actual situation. But, you can control how you react to it. So, here are a few tips to make the most of it and bounce back even better than before.
1. Take a Minute
It’s important that you realize that positively coping with rejection doesn’t mean you can’t recognize the fact that it sucks. Getting rejected stings—and nobody’s asking you to paste on a smile, bottle up your emotions, and pretend that getting shot down makes you feel great.
Instead, give yourself a minute to process. Take a deep breath and vent a little if you need to. Ultimately, keeping that frustration to yourself won’t do you any favors, and you’re entitled to the chance to press pause and pull yourself together.
2. Don’t Assign Blame
In pretty much any negative situation, it’s human nature to start pointing fingers and assigning blame—either to yourself or other people.
Maybe you’re beating yourself up into thinking that if you would’ve just answered that one interview question better, you would’ve been able to land the job. Or, maybe you’re placing blame on the company—who you’re now convinced was always planning on hiring internally.
However, playing the blame game won’t accomplish much in the end. So, resist the urge to assign fault to someone and instead move onto the next step.
3. Reflect and Analyze
You don’t want to point fingers. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t take a chance to reflect on the situation and determine what you could’ve done better.
Should you have been better prepared for that job interview? Should you have put in more work to prove that you’re ready for that promotion? Could you have done more research or communicated your goals better?
Regardless of your specific situation, make sure you give yourself adequate time to replay the circumstances and pinpoint some areas where you could improve.
Remember, this isn’t about replaying the blooper reel, highlighting your faults, and blaming yourself for your own misfortune—that’s not the point. Instead, your goal is to get a grasp on the things you could’ve done better so that you can use that information to improve in the future.
4. Make Changes
It’s not enough to just reflect on what you could’ve done better. You need to go the extra mile and put some steps into place to ensure that you actually implement those actions in the future.
Should you have sat down and practiced for that interview? Do that next time. Should you have done more thorough research into the company’s mission? Don’t skip that for your next job interview.
In some cases, there’s really nothing you could’ve done better. For whatever reason, things just didn’t work out in your favor (it happens to the best of us). If you find yourself in that boat, I know how frustrating it can be to feel so helpless. But, in those moments, your best bet is to move directly onto the final step.
5. Move On
Rejection is painful, and it can be tempting to hold a grudge. You promise yourself that you’ll never apply for a job with that company again, you’ll never put yourself out there for a promotion again, and so on and so forth.
But, ultimately, the only person that really hurts is you. So, after you’ve taken some time to process and vent a little frustration, it’s time to take a deep breath, let bygones be bygones, and just let it go.
Is that the easiest thing to do? I won’t lie—no, not always. But, you’ll be much better off if you can simply learn from the experience and then leave it in the past. After all, that’s where it belongs. You’re onto bigger and better things!
All of us struggle to accept rejection—it can be a brutal slap in the face. However, it’s also inevitable. So, the next time you find yourself in that frustrating spot, remember these five key tips. Put them into action, and you’ll bounce back even better than before!