As we all know, rejection hurts. It’s true whether it’s as a teenager with your first crush or as an adult in the workplace. At work, it can be not landing that job you applied for, not being invited to be part of a particular project, being told that you’re not meeting client expectations… and the list goes on.

As we teach our young when they first fall off a bike, the best way to deal with rejection is to get up, dust yourself off and try again. To maintain our wellbeing – both personally and professionally – we need to be able to deal with these situations in positive and healthy ways.

That sounds simple, and of course the process rarely is. The good news is that negative experiences like rejection can help us to grow and to build our resilience to future challenges – so they affect us less often and we can bounce back more quickly.

Action Steps

Here are 5 key steps to moving forward positively from rejection at work…

1. Allow yourself to feel it
Rejection hurts. It sets off the same area in our brain as physical pain. So give yourself time to feel the emotions – disappointment, sadness, anger, embarrassment or fear. Don’t ignore or deny these feelings as they’ll only resurface later. Accept that they’re an appropriate response to the situation.

2. Be Self-Compassionate
Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. Mistakes are how we learn in life and build ourselves as better people. Talk to yourself kindly, as you would to a friend who was going through a similar situation.

3. Be Objective
Take an objective look at the rejection. Step back from your own perspective and look at the situation from another angle. Was it warranted in some way? Is there something you missed? Is the time not right? Are your hopes realistic? What could you have done better? It can be a hard task to put yourself under the spotlight but the lessons learned can be invaluable.

4. Learn the lessons
This is crucial for building resilience for the future: Ask yourself, what can I learn from this situation? What can I take from this experience that will be useful in the future?

5. Move On
Finally, allow yourself to move on. Let it go and move forward. Don’t let it stop you from enjoying life, now and into the future.

Think briefly about past rejections you’ve experienced at work…

What could you learn from these situations that could be useful for you, now or in the future?

Take a mental note of these, so you can build your resilience and equip yourself for future challenges.


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