5 steps to get over a rejection at work

No.

That’s one word no one likes to hear (me the first)

But we all experience rejection at some point in our lives. 

From failed exams to breakups, rejection follows us all the ways into the workplace.

And it can take many forms:

  • A job application not shortlisted
  • Being offered a salary or bonus lower than expected
  • A surprise bad performance review
  • Not getting selected for a high-profile project
  • Missing out on a sale
  • Being passed over for a promotion
  • A flexible working request denied
  • Or being told your job was no longer needed

Whatever way our dreams are crushed, we all feel the same way and go through a rollercoaster of emotions before we can move on.

AKA the 5 stages of grief.

The only difference is how we deal with each stage to quickly move to the next one and finally get over it.

Stage 1: DENIAL

I can’t believe this is happening to me. I’ve got to read this email another 10 times, just to be sure…

What can you do? ACCEPT IT.

Whatever you wanted, you got your answer. 

And it’s a big fat NO. 

Fact!

Burying your head in the sand won’t help you move forward.

Stage 2: ANGER

Those bastards! That’s so unfair! 

Of course you’re pissed! 

Who wouldn’t be. 

But are you annoyed at the person who rejected you or yourself for not getting what you wanted?

What can you do? MANAGE YOUR EMOTIONS.

Truth is, the negative energy will get you nowhere. 

Going to someone in tears or angry because they didn’t pick you will only make them lose respect for you and comfort them that they made the right choice.

Plus, if they feel like they’re going to make it worse by talking through their decision with you, you’ll get meaningless feedback that won’t help you move forward. 

Stage 3: BARGAINING

Now that you’ve calmed down, you’ll start wondering if there’s still a chance. 

But begging won’t make you look good. 

What can you do?  ASK FOR FEEDBACK.

Maybe the decision was fair and justified. 

And you won’t know that unless you genuinely want to understand why you were rejected. 

No one likes criticism, but try to remain open and calm and take time to reflect on what’s been said before you start defending yourself.

Stage 4: DEPRESSION

I’ll never get to work part time.

I’m so rubbish at my job. 

No one will ever hire me.

Even if the feedback you got was surrounded by positives, what you’ve heard made you realise how crap you were.

What can you do? LEARN FROM IT. 

First, have a good cry, it’ll help. 

And since you’re already replaying what happened over and over again, think about where you think messed up.

When you calm down, take time to process the information you got from the feedback and your own realisations.

What did you stumble on? Was your CV really showing the skills needed for the job? Did you show enough motivation?

Remember that knowing where you fell short is the only way to improve. 

You could get a different outcome later on if you’re open to learning and changing your behaviour.

Stage 5: ACCEPTANCE

Almost there. 

OK, maybe you could have done things differently but you can’t change the past. 

It is what it is. 

But should you just stop there?

What can you do? TAKE ACTION.

f there is a possibility they’d change their mind, use what you’ve learnt to try and get the decision overturned. 

Maybe you can try a new approach on your client to get the big sale you worked on so hard. Or you can re-apply for flexible working with a better business case.

And if it doesn’t work again, take things gracefully and keep an open mind. You never know. 

But if the rejection was definite, don’t get hung up on it and start thinking about what to do next. 

Can your manager help you develop the skills you’re missing? Or should you revamp your CV to show what you’re capable of?

It’s time for a new plan! 

When things don’t go the way we want, it can feel like the end of the world. 

But remember, it’s not the first time you didn’t succeed. 

  • You fell over many times before being able to take your first steps, 
  • You rolled on the floor when your parents didn’t let you go to school barefoot, 
  • You cried for days when you didn’t pass your driving licence first time,
  • You felt like a total failure when your first job application got rejected. 

Each setback made you more resilient.

And here you are, ready to tackle yet another life challenge and become a better version of yourself. 

Think about it…

If you don’t fail you don’t improve. 

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