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Published on February 20, 2019

How to Deal with Rejection at Work: 9 Powerful Tactics

How to Deal with Rejection at Work: 9 Powerful Tactics

When it comes to dealing with rejection at work, I think the number one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t dwell on it too much. You especially can’t dwell on things that in the grand scheme of things are small. Hindsight truly is 20/20.

So how to deal with rejection at work?

The first thing to consider is to think about the ways you have dealt with past rejections. Think about those times that you were turned down. Really think about the about these past times of getting turned down, how they transpired after those rejections. How do you feel now? I hope your rejections have lead you to some positive long-term outcomes. I’ll go into that later.

Think about how you eventually got over or adjusted to the pain of past experiences.

How do I know the powerful tactics of dealing with rejection at work?

Two things.

As a business owner, I have the opportunity to both reject people and be rejected.

I’ve been through a lot of rejections myself when starting my business. For my business, I’ve also made an effort to really listen to and respect the opinions of my team. Rejection sure feels a lot better when there is mutual respect. Sometimes, I have to reject my team’s ideas.

I will say this: I’ve always been in business for myself and therefore haven’t lived the life of corporate politics. But I’ve heard plenty of stories. It’s a hotbed for rejection fears.

Rejection can be really mean. It can feel like it’s everywhere in your life. But it doesn’t have to be. It should be constructive. It’s hard to overcome the pain when it hits you. But pain does make it better. Rejection is something that you can strengthen yourself for.

I’d love to take you through some of the powerful tactics I’ve learned when it comes to dealing with rejection.

1. Embrace pain, use it as a tool to become stronger and learn

Knowledge is power. I’ve learned something negative about myself during some rejections, and I’ve felt the pain of each rejection. But honestly, I’ve found of the best way to deal with rejection is to just simply feel the pain, calm down a bit, and figure out how to move on.

Make sure you find out why you’ve been rejected. Sometimes it’s you, sometimes it’s them. Accept the reason, but make sure that reason is on the basis of truth.

2. Show off your strength and openness to people

People respond well to signs of strength. It’s a remnant of our evolutionary past as human beings.

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There’s a little story that like to tell about my summer of 2009. This was an important bout of training for me when working with rejection rather than being afraid of it. It was also when I became an accidental entrepreneur…

In summer of 2009, I was sixteen-years-old and I had gotten the idea that I should sell website design services to local businesses. I felt like I had something to prove. And I was determined. I had what was a novel idea at the time but no idea how to sell it. But I had an absurd amount of determination, and that fueled me.

Every morning, I would leave my house at 9:00 AM (the time most local businesses opened up) and visit each individual shopping center. I didn’t have a car, so I walked door-to-door to pitch my website design services to these businesses. It was a lot of effort to get around on foot.

Imagine a sweaty sixteen-year-old who has no idea how to appropriately dress, walking door to door and asking to speak to the person in charge. Meanwhile, I was drenched in sweat because I was walking outside all day. It was an awkward situation every time. I was rejected by many, many local business owners.

But I didn’t care! Well, scratch that, I did care. BUT…

I was learning a lot and I always felt like I was getting closer to the right thing to do. I began picking up subtle cues from the business owners I spoke to. I started to identify what they wanted to hear, and what they didn’t. I also started figuring out what type of clothing I should wear to make people want to listen to me — just by changing my attire alone, I had fewer owners pointing at their “do not solicit” signs.

I didn’t fear rejection here because I knew, deep down, that I was going to find my first customer. The rejections kept happening, but I didn’t take them personally. This was because I knew I was doing something wrong, and there was a fun in figuring it out.

I knew that for every “no” I was hearing, I was getting closer to that first yes. Each rejection made me better at my approach. It was only because of the rejections that I had gotten better at describing what I believed in.

3. Reprogram your mornings

How you start your morning does have a genuine effect on how powerful you feel for the rest of the day. I feel the drive to always reprogram myself if I can. Mornings are important for me because it gives my brain a chance to be at its prime for the rest of the day.

I have programmed myself to have better mornings in general:

No matter if I am at home, staying in a hotel, or even at my father’s house, I make sure that my ideal morning ritual gets done. Immediately upon waking up, before my brain begins racing. Most of the time it’s racing with the day’s activities. But sometimes dealing with rejections myself.

But before I dwell, I immediately jump into the shower. I refuse to look at my phone because the notifications are going to suck me in. Nope, then I’ll blow the most valuable hour of the day.

Getting into the shower is an easy way I can enforce that policy. This is my time, and being in the shower is perhaps one of the only times in a day that I am truly alone. No emails, no phone calls, text messages, notifications, distractions, no other people. Just me and my thoughts.

I can contemplate my previous day’s rejections with a more clear head.

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You can also try to build a morning routine for yourself:

The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

4. Give your ego a little rest

People think a lot. We’re trapped in our egos, whether it’s positive or negative. We think about all of the different scenarios, and painfully focus on the most recent rejection.

The tactic that I had used for dealing with rejection is that I let go of my ego. I can do this sometimes. It’s hard to let go of your ego.

We tend to use the word “ego” loosely to describe people that are selfish, or in it for themselves alone. I learned that I had created my own ego unconsciously to act as a barrier to insulate myself from the rest of the world.

It is an unconscious defense mechanism many ambitious, driven individuals are probably prone to. It’s certainly easier to propel yourself forward in the face of major setbacks when nothing is ever your own fault. But in doing so, you are living in “duality”. When living in duality, you are separating yourself from the reality of others and the world around me.

Living in duality creates a lot of pain for ourselves and those around us. When I had a negative, it meant filtering my entire life through a lens of judgment. Things were “right or wrong,” “good or bad,” “pretty or ugly.” But these binary judgments only served to close me off to others.

It’s exhausting, and when I can give myself a break from that and just live in the moment I feel a lot more energetic and just… good.

5. Know that embracing the unexpected can come with pain and triumph

There are people who are very career-focused. They want to pursue a path and they are going to do anything they can to get to it.

A driven-nature can be great, especially if you are working in a field that you’re in love with. But this commitment to a linear life makes rejection even more negative and consequential.

I’ve looked back on my life and have found many unexpected turns. I’m grateful for the rejections that ultimately led me to better decisions.

Ultimately, you’re better off with yourself if you embrace the unpredictable nature of life. You are more malleable yet in control of yourself than you think. The consistent feeling that you are in control and not in control at the same time is liberating.

Direction can be overrated. It’s absolutely a compass for me now, but there was absolutely a time in my life where I just explored a bunch of different options for myself. I had hobbies, which led to passions.

Just start giving new things a try! Play an instrument, make some art. Rejection will sting less when you have more things to care about yourself.

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It might sound silly, but I recommend trying to contact your inner-child. I think about myself as a kid, with a voracious desire to try new things without worrying about rejection.

6. Remember that everyone’s got an opinion

And you have your opinions too. Someone rejecting you is just them giving you their opinion. One person’s negative thoughts may be another’s positive ones.

Everyone has their own tastes. So if you have ideas that you want to share that are getting rejected by one, don’t be afraid to tell others. You may even get great feedback. You may also get a new backer.

Don’t be afraid to get feedback, you can learn from this feedback:

How to Learn Twice as Fast? Get More Feedback

7. Think about how you spend your time — what’s the purpose?

Every moment of my life feels like it has a purpose.

That doesn’t mean that every purposeful moment of my life is to fulfill some grand mission either. Sometimes the purpose of doing something is just to make myself happy. And there’s no way I should feel guilty about it.

What do you do with your time? Write it all out. And then write the purpose next to each item. It’ll give you a good sense of what you are really doing with your time.

When you are conscious about every moment you spend, you’ll live a more balanced life. Take a look at this guide to learn more:

The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

8. People move at different wavelengths

I know some people who really fret if they aren’t getting a response from someone.

That feeling of not getting that reply email can really eat away at your soul. And it likely doesn’t matter a lick to the person on the receiving end! Or it does, and they’re just very busy. Maybe they forgot to respond.

Dealing with rejection at work is about adapting to people’s different wavelengths, knowing that you can control them, and just focus on being happy.

9. Adapt the growth mindset

Around thirty years ago, renowned psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck and her team became interested in students’ attitudes about failure. They noticed that some students rebounded, while others seemed devastated by even the smallest setbacks. You can read more about this research in her 2006 book, Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success.

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From their study, Dr. Dweck and her team could place people into two categories:

Those who have a “fixed” theory of intelligence (fixed mindset). Fixed mindset people tend to think that whatever abilities they have will go unchanged no matter what they do. There’s no room for self-improvement or new ideas with this mindset.

Those who believe that they are control of their success through learning and hard work. In other words they were open to “growth” opportunities in intelligence (growth mindset). There are countless opportunities to grow and learn. The best of entrepreneurs exhibit the growth mindset.

The interesting part was that Dr. Dweck’s students weren’t necessarily aware of their proclivities towards a growth or fixed mindset. However, she and her team discerned from behaviors such as fearing failure that some people leaned towards fixed mindsets, while the growth-minded individuals viewed failure as a learning experience. Those growth-minded knew they could pick themselves up and apply what they learned to the next endeavor.

I believe that this is the key. You see, if you’re fixed on certain things all of the time, that’s where your life’s emphasis is going to be.

You’re always going to feel stuck in the mud if you’re fixed on your previous failures.

But there’s no time like the present.

In the end, really think about what makes you happy and just do it. Life is too short to dwell on things that don’t really matter!

The Bottom Line

Once you’ve gotten over dealing with rejection, you’ll be an unstoppable machine of a person compared to most of your coworkers.

Don’t forget: Most other people fear rejection too. You’ll have a tremendous advantage.

So start to adapt the tips above and rejection will be in your control.

More Resources About Workplace Communication

Featured photo credit: Kai Pilger via unsplash.com

More by this author

Joshua Davidson

CEO of ChopDawg.com, Published Author of The Entrepreneurs Framework: How Businesses Are Adapting In The New Economy

How to Deal with Rejection at Work: 9 Powerful Tactics

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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