How to handle rejection at work (without losing it)

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Let’s talk about something we all face but refuse to talk about — rejection. Whether you’ve been passed over for a promotion or not given the ‘desired role’ in an upcoming project, rejections are part and parcel of one’s professional life.

They aren’t always big and loud but they can also occur in a variety of small work-related situations as well. Here are some common rejections (in no particular order) that one goes through every day at work:

  • Being passed over for a promotion
  • Not getting a plum assignment
  • Losing out on sales to a competitor
  • Getting a meager salary hike than expected
  • Seniors or team leaders choosing someone else over you

I know that it can be downright painful to be rejected but one must learn to deal with rejections gracefully without letting them affect your self-confidence. So, here are my thoughts on how one can handle rejections at work:

  1. Manage your emotions

Rejection, in any form or way, can cause an emotional upheaval. Most of us either react straightaway or start bottling up emotions inside us. When you manage your emotions in the right way, you can experience a shift in your perspective and personality.

When you’re not chosen for something, getting into a heated argument might seem right at the moment but it can do more bad than good. Your co-workers and seniors will perceive such behavior as unprofessional and label you as incompetent. It might give them an impression that you can’t cope up with high pressure and tough conversations and they might stop giving constructive feedback to you. This would definitely affect your performance, future growth, prospects, and career opportunities within your company.

You must learn to manage your emotions to take rejections in your stride. Accept what you’re feeling at that particular moment and don’t react immediately. Take a few deep breaths, have some water, calm yourself down, and give yourself a pep talk to suppress the internal negativity.

2. Pause and assess

Every rejection is like an opportunity to take a step back and reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. You get a chance to see if you could have handled the situation differently or maybe with a better approach. It teaches you if there are any lessons to be learned (or unlearned) to help you manage things in a better way.

Most of the times, rejections are unintentional and impartial. Maybe the other person was more skilled and experienced than you are or he had a few certifications that you did not. Perhaps he had better professional relationships or years of loyalty and commitment to the company.

Take a moment to pause and asses if your actions or behavior have led to the rejection in any way. It is possible that the person who rejected you had a completely different perspective on it or maybe you could have done something unintentionally that led to this outcome. Don’t let emotions cloud your judgment and be absolutely honest while contemplating the issue.

3. Seek feedback or constructive criticism

Seeking feedback is perhaps the best and the most appropriate way to figure out why you were rejected. Rather than being a Sherlock Holmes and weaving stories in your head, discuss what happened with your boss, HR, or team lead. Getting to know the other side of the story will help you get an eagle’s eye view and a better perspective on it.

Seek feedback on why you didn’t get the promotion or why someone else is being chosen to helm a new project every now and then. Be open to receiving feedback and if there’s criticism, take it constructively. Don’t blame, defend, or argue as it will defeat the whole purpose of it.

It will help you better understand the reason for your rejection. Having an explanation will make it feel little less personal and more tolerable, thus enabling you to cope with the rejection in a professional way. Take positive action to develop or change the areas about which you received feedback.

It’s okay to be rejected…

Rejections can have a profound effect on shaping you as a person. I know how painful the whole process can be but there’s always a way to handle things at work — a good way and a bad way. The bad way would be to let it affect your self-esteem and feeling sorry for yourself. The good one would be to learn your lesson, seek out feedback, and try harder the next time.

Do tell us about your rejection stories and how you handled them at work in the comments below. So, if you got rejected the next time, you know what to do. Right?

Author Bio:

Vartika Kashyap is the Marketing Manager at ProofHub and has been one of the LinkedIn Top Voices in 2017. Her articles are inspired by office situations and work-related events. She likes to write about productivity, team building, work culture, leadership, entrepreneurship among others and contributing to a better workplace is what makes her click.

Written by

Chief Marketing Officer@ProofHub. Featured writer on LinkedIn. Contributor at Elearning Industry, Dzone, Your Story and Business.com.

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