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Rejection.

We’ve all felt it in various situations in our lives. Maybe you didn’t make the high school football team or get into the college of your dreams. Either way, not getting something you really want and perhaps think you deserve, can be extremely disappointing.

When it comes to the workplace, rejection can come in all shapes and sizes. It could be the promotion or new job you applied for and didn’t get; the idea that wasn’t acknowledged; or the employee function you weren’t invited to. While you can’t make the hurt feelings disappear, you can learn to effectively deal with rejection.

Take a step back

Taking rejection personally makes it much more difficult on you emotionally. When you’re not chosen for something, getting into a heated argument might seem right at the moment but it can do more harm than good. Your coworkers and managers may perceive such behavior as unprofessional and it may give them the impression that you can’t cope under stress. Instead, think of rejection as an opportunity to take a step back and reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. You get a chance to see if you could have handled the situation differently or maybe with a better approach.

While it’s hard to do, it’s better to not take rejection personally. Consider the circumstances as objectively as you can. Recognize that rejection can be fair and impartial. Maybe the other person was more skilled and experienced than you or maybe he or she had a few certifications you didn’t. Either way, try not to let your emotions cloud your judgment.

Ask for feedback and gather information

When you ace an interview and feel confident about a forthcoming job offer, it can really be deflating when it doesn’t come. A proactive way to deal with this is to ask for feedback. Sometimes understanding why you were rejected can help make it less personal and more tolerable. It can also help you improve upon your weaknesses.

While it’s not proper etiquette to directly ask your interviewer why they didn’t select you, you could phrase your questions like this:

  • “Did you identify any key qualifications for this job which were missing in my background?”
  • Do you have any suggestions regarding how I might improve upon my resume and cover letter?”
  • “Did you feel like my job references could have been stronger?”

Another way to get feedback is to initiate a conversation by sending a brief email or LinkedIn message asking if you could talk on the phone to get some constructive input to enhance your skills.

If the rejection happened in your current workplace, try discussing what happened with your boss, HR, or team lead. This is better than making up theories in your head. Getting to know the other side of the story will help you get an eagle’s eye view and a better perspective on it. If you’re open to receiving feedback from co-workers, make sure you take it constructively even if it’s critical. Don’t blame, defend, or argue as it will defeat the whole purpose of it.

Be positive

Because of the negative emotions we tend to associate with being rejected, we often go to great lengths to avoid it. Instead of applying for that new job or talking to that new friend or trying that new dance move, it can be tempting to allow our fear of being turned down to stop us in our tracks, but don’t let that stop you. Focus on your strengths and don’t dwell on the negativity. Take positive action to develop or change the areas about which you received feedback and make a plan for yourself! Depending on what advice you received, you may have a list of action steps to prepare yourself for the next opportunity.

Adjust your path accordingly

Sometimes workplace rejection can mean it’s time for a new opportunity. If you didn’t get the promotion you wanted and see no other growth opportunities at your current company or if your ideas are being rejected left and right, it may be time to adjust course.

Navigating job searches and preparing resumes is hard work, but The Lee Group is here to help!

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