April 17, 2014

3 Steps: How To Deal With Rejection


Hearing “no” to something you’re excited about can be a splash of cold water in the face. The first step in how to deal with rejection is often to understand that quite often it’s not you that’s being rejected. This separation of ourselves from our ideas is sometimes challenging for women (and anyone if we’re really connected to the idea), so we like the way Dana approaches this delicate subject. “It’s not always about you,” is good advice! – InPower Editors

A client and I recently strategized what I thought was an awesome move for her… and she emailed me back a few minutes after we hung up with this simple statement: “My boss said no.”

I was disappointed for her because the approach would really have positioned her well among her peers and superiors. But hey, the boss said no. I emailed back and told her to pretend it wasn’t about her.

This advice, she said, helped but she was confused about the boss’ response, so I encouraged her to talk to her boss more about it after some time had gone by. I spoke with her a week or so later and it turns out that, it seems that the boss was concerned with the way her proposal would have cluttered up some other proposals he had in the works. So, it wasn’t really about her, it was just poor timing for her to put that particular proposal on the table.

It’s Not (Always) About You

The fact is, sometimes is IS about you. However, going straight “there” and concluding that whatever the rejection, it’s your fault is really missing an important problem-solving opportunity.

And in fact, problem-solving is at the heart of business. However, most of us get fixated on our own problems and forget that everyone else – including the boss – has problems too.

If you want to reduce the amount of rejection you get, make sure you’re focused on the right problems, yours, your bosses and the company’s. This can mean that you focus on solving problems your boss has, or relating the problems you have to priorities you know the boss shares. Either way you reduce the chance of rejection when you’re focused on problems many people think are the ones that deserve attention.

How To Deal With Rejection – Emotionally

Even when you’re focused on the right problems, rejection feels bad. So try this. Deal with the bad emotion right there on the spot. Don’t hold onto it as some kind of proof that you’re unworthy, your boss hates you or the Universe is out to get you.

Even if you had a dumb idea, your boss does hate you, or you and the Universe haven’t been getting along lately – and this is all true – hanging onto the negative emotion just sets you up for more disappointment. Just because something is true, doesn’t mean you need it.

When you’re hit with a rejection or major disappointment of any kind, try these three simple steps (in whatever order you can).

  1. Pretend it’s not about you. Give yourself permission to revisit the parts that may be about you after the hurt is gone, but until then, just pretend. When your heart starts to feel better, tackle the issues more deeply.
  2. Divert yourself. Letting some time pass is a reasonable thing to do. Put away the topic of your hurt and turn to something else. You don’t even have to focus on something happy. Something neutral will do. Just go do something else for a while. You’re not avoiding the issue if you promise yourself you’ll come back when you’re ready.
  3. Let go of the hurt. An emotion is a real thing, whether or not it’s “justified.” If you’re feeling it, it’s real and you have to deal with it. Don’t shove it aside for long. When you are in a safe space, bring it out and let it be what it wants to be. Feel free to do this alone in a closet, over coffee with a good friend who will let you vent, on the drive home or when the kids have gone to bed. Pick a time while it’s fresh and let it out. Cry, whine, get angry, whatever it needs. And when the fire is gone, just release the residual feelings so you can get back to dealing with whatever else needs dealing with. It will be way easier once the emotional distortion is gone. How do you let go? Put your remaining emotions in a ball in your fist (imaginatively, of course) and imagine the wind blowing them away as you open your fingers.

No one makes it into leadership without plenty of disappointments along the way. Master the art of dealing with rejection sooner rather than later and you’ll go farther!
Photo Credit: Free Digital Photos

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Dana Theus (152 Posts)

Dana is a values-based consultant, coach and advocate for women's leadership strategies that produce business results. In launching InPower Women, a Forbes Top 100 web site for women, she found her message of “In”Powerment resonating strongly with professional women. Her articles are also featured and syndicated today on several sites including The Huffington Post, The National Journal's Next America, Smartbrief on Leadership, and Switch & Shift, she's gained a warm reception as a motivational speaker to women’s groups helping women understand what the research says about how to gain more power instantaneously [Watch her TEDx Talk for an example.] Dana is a regular host for Executive Leader's Radio, the #1 business talk show in the mid-atlantic states. Read her full bio. Follow Dana:  LinkedIn Google+  Twitter RSS

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