No one likes rejection. Not in our professional life. Not in our personal life. It doesn’t feel good. Even the most confident adult can be reduced to the self consciousness of a middle schooler by being rejected. Here are 10 things you can do to take the sting out of rejection.
My recent rejection Earlier this month I applied to be a speaker at Ignite Minneapolis. I’ve been to two Ignites, fall 2015 and spring 2016. I’ve submitted to speak at the spring 2016 and fall 2016 Ignites and been rejected for both. *play sad trombone music* Ouch. My next submission will be called How to Get Rejected to Speak at Ignite. They can’t possibly reject that one, can they?!
I really thought I’d written great proposals. After the spring 2016 Ignite, I really felt confident that I had something to offer as an Ignite speaker. I knew I’d be a better speaker than some of the people they chose. And that I had a lot to learn from some of the other speakers they chose. But I have to remember, they are looking for more than just speaking ability. They’re looking for passion. Someone that can present on a topic that they are excited about the will be interesting to others.
At the same time I was being rejected by Ignite (I could turn this blog post into a drinking game with the number of times I use ‘reject’), I had some speaking successes. I advanced in the Minnesota’s Funniest Person Contest.
I also took second in my Toastmasters division speech contest. I will now compete at the district level. There are ten of us representing (most of) Minnesota and southern Canada. This is a pretty big deal for me. While the audience might not be as large as Ignite, I am representing a larger section of the population. I’m very excited about it. But of course I was bummed about getting rejected by Ignite. Since the Ignite rejection came before my speech contest, had I not advanced in my speech contest I would have been super disappointed. It’s crazy how things can work out sometimes.
There was a time where I was one of those people who wanted success at everything. I don’t like the word overachiever, but some might call it that. During this period, a rejection like Ignite would have torn me apart. I have since learned to take the good with the bad (queue the Facts of Life theme song) and see the situation for what it is. Some of that comes with age and some with wisdom.
Realistically, it’s good that I got rejected by Ignite. I couldn’t handle two major/high profile speeches in a week. I would have stressed myself out. And that would have affected my performance. Of course, I can see this now looking back on it.
Acknowledge the sting. It hurts to get rejected. It can feel like a slap in the face literally and figuratively. But denying it doesn’t make it hurt less. We can bury the feeling deep down inside us but eventually it is going to resurface.
Deal with your feelings. Journal about it. It can help to write out how you’re feeling. Tell a friend or family member. When you share a disappointment, it opens you up for meeting others who have also experienced the same thing. There is strength and comfort in numbers. Others who have gone through what you’re going through can share their tactics for how they got through it.
Don’t take it personally. I’m sure you’ve been given this advice before in one scenario or another. Telling someone not to take rejection personally is easier said then done. But often it has less to do with us personally and more to do with the circumstances. Don’t let the rejection define you. Rise above it. Prove them wrong. Show them what you’re really made of. Make them sorry they rejected you.
Realize that a rejection isn’t a permanent rejection. Sure I’ve been rejected twice by Ignite. But I’m still going to keep applying. Maybe they’ll keep rejecting me. But I feel confident that I will be accepted to speak in the future. If I keep going to the events and learning from the speakers, I feel that my proposals will just get better and better. I’ve gone to one of their workshops. Maybe I need to go to another one. I can reach out to other speakers and see if they have any advice for me. I can ask one of them to read my next speaking proposal.
Get feedback. If possible and if you’re open to it, seek feedback from the person that rejected you. Find out what you could have done differently. Learn what criteria they used to accept or reject you. Not only will this help you, but it looks good to the person doing the rejecting because they realize that you’re so serious about success that you’re willing to put yourself in the hot seat.
Learn from the experience. What did this experience teach you? And don’t say – to avoid whatever it is that got you rejected in the first place. There is a lesson to be learned in every situation. We might not realize right away. We might not want to see it at first.
Celebrate the fact that you’re not playing it safe. Rejection means that you’re not playing it safe. It means that you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone and gone after something that you weren’t shoe-in for. Acknowledge how awesome it is that you didn’t stay in your safe little bubble and only do things that you’re 100% perfect at. Celebrate this!
Craft a comeback. I’m a person, who needs to vent when I’ve been rejected. It will get ugly, Horrible things will be said. But I don’t want to hurt anyone and I hate conflict. So, I craft a comeback then destroy it.
The easiest way to do this is to write something out, then shred it or burn it afterwards so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. You can also type out an email. Just be sure not to put any name in the To box. Or, you could write it in a journal if you want to keep it. Personally, I like destroying it because it feels symbolic of lifting that rejection off my shoulders and permanently getting rid of it.
Being rejected doesn’t define your self worth. Yes, it hurts to be rejected. But don’t give them the power to shake your confidence and self esteem. You are more than getting rejected for a job, a date, or grad school. Know your worth and that no one else holds the power to it.
Realize that even though it seems like you’re being shut out by someone, maybe you’re meant to be set apart from them. Rejection hurts because it excludes us from something. No one likes to feel like they’re being shut out. But instead of being shut out, maybe you’re actually being set apart from them. Maybe you’re meant to stand out, not fit in.
Burn their house down! Just kidding. Arson is never a good idea (or a joke for that matter). Even though revenge may seem like the best option in the heat of the moment it never is. If we can learn anything from TLC’s Left Eye, it should be that rejection shouldn’t be an opportunity to get someone back.
Think of how much being rejected hurt you. That’s not something you want to pass on to anyone else. Instead, in the future when you have to reject someone for a job, a date or anything for that matter, think of how you’d like to receive the same information. Put yourself in their shoes before delivering the news to help soften the blow.
Rejection sucks but it’s a part of life. It has the ability to destroy us. It also has the ability to make us stronger. Choose the latter. You’re worth so much more than a little rejection.
How do you deal with rejection?
Also published on Medium.