Ever notice how being turned down stops some people from trying again?

Rejection at work comes in various forms: whether you were not assigned to a project you had applied for or were turned down for a promotion, rejection stings.

While handling rejection at work can be one of life’s toughest challenges, learning to use it to your advantage is one of the most therapeutic and effective ways to beat it.

They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Use the rejection to improve your work habits, performance and your relationships with colleagues.

The first step to coping with work-related rejection is to identify how you feel and acknowledge any emotion stemming from it. It is okay to feel embarrassed, disappointed and hurt.
Dismissing your feelings as ‘no big deal’ is unhealthy and will only prolong your pain and healing process. People react to pain in different ways. Recognise your coping mechanism and work with it. Emotions are a lot easier to deal with when confronted head-on.


Be the friend you need and give yourself a much needed break. Often times, we are so hard on ourselves for our failures that we fail to recorgnise our wins. Self-appreciation is an integral key to overcoming rejection. Remember you are at your lowest at this point, the last thing your mind needs is another kick in the gut by you. Now is the best time to appreciate your past efforts. If it helps, have a collection of positive mantras you can recite to positively boost your mind.


If you were passed up for a promotion you applied for, go back to your Hiring Manager. Rather than demand for reasons why you were not chosen, ask for feedback on how you can do better next time. Gathering those bits of information will help you curate a future plan to include those shortcomings and how to be better. That way, you can prepare for other opportunities. If your rejection has to do with your interpersonal relationships with your co-workers, speak to them about it, be candid with your feelings.


Look on the bright side, rejection can only mean you are putting in efforts and putting yourself out there. Most people prefer the ‘safe’ confines of their comfort zone, probably part of the reason they never get rejected. If you have ever experienced rejection at work, whether by being passed up for a promotion, or excluded from an account, it means you are pushing your limits, taking risks and not playing safe. Nobody has ever had ground-breaking success by playing it safe.


Take positive action to develop the areas you received feedback on. Use this as an opportunity for self-growth. Search for hidden lessons from each incident and learn to be a stronger and better version of yourself. A greater percentage of success stories were built on past failures. If it is an attitudinal problem stemming from you, search for ways to improve your conduct with your colleagues and learn to be more open to constructive criticisms. Rejection is meant to make you stronger and much wiser.


Rejection may come off as a personal attack on you. Try to desist from taking it personally. In life, you win some and you lose some. Rejection does not define you; the opposite is usually the case, judging from biographies of highly influential and successful persons in their field. The Oprah of today was once told she was not media material. Bringing it closer to home, veteran actress Ireti Doyle was once denied a part she auditioned for because she was considered not the ‘right’ colour for television. In the above cases, these people did not let other people’s opinion of them define them. They not only proved them wrong, but went ahead to excel in the field that was supposed to be a dead end to them.

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