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How to Cope with Rejection at Work

How to Cope with Rejection at Work

    I have a family member who is always clashing with her boss. I wonder if part of the problem is that she takes professional criticism personally. Over Thanksgiving one year, she explained to me that she is rejection sensitive, meaning that she’s attuned to any cue that she is being rebuffed, and has the tendency to react strongly to even the most minor rejection by another person.

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    Co-workers are like family – but not in a good way

    Experts always talk about how to deal with rejection when you’re looking for a job, but they forget the fact that even when you already have a job, rejection can be toxic. The workplace is the environment where you spend most of your waking hours, and yet the people with whom you share the space didn’t choose to be in such close proximity. They may be very different from you, and they may not think you are the greatest thing since the iPad. While some degree of conflict is perfectly normal, for the rejection sensitive, a workplace can be minefield of hurt feelings.

    Pick your poison – manager or co-worker rejection

    The chief culprit is usually the manager. After all, your manager is charged by giving you constructive criticism and commenting positively — or negatively — on your performance. In an ideal world, she would always do so in a highly professional manner, but since it’s not an ideal world and we are all human beings, sometimes she will be harsh or tactless, or won’t think about how her words are coming across.

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    Co-workers too may not meet our expectations of them as supportive, collaborative friends. A co-worker who ignores you, makes a snide comment about your appearance or behavior, or chooses to go to lunch with someone else may send the rejection sensitive into a tailspin. Suddenly, it can feel like the entire office is operating against you, and you get angry and your opinion of your work sours. This can be dangerous, because if you lash out at work, your reputation and even your job itself may be in jeopardy. Here are a few helpful ways for coping with rejection at work:

    Step away:  When someone hurts your feelings, excuse yourself from the situation and go to a private place. Relax and breathe deeply, and return to your office. Try not to see the person again until you’ve calmed down and gained some perspective.

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    Remind yourself about who you’re dealing with:  Managers and co-workers are often assembled at random, and there’s no way you’re going to get along with everyone all the time. This person is not your best friend or a member of your immediate family, so he’s not worth reacting emotionally over.

    Be objective about the rejection:  Think through the circumstances leading up to the rejection. Could you have done anything to cause the situation, or did it seemingly come out of nowhere? Is it possible that the other person didn’t mean to reject you at all, or has a completely different perspective on the issue? If your emotions are clouding your judgment, discuss what happened with a mentor or friend whose opinion you trust and value.

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    Try to let negative feelings go: The rejection sensitive person frequently finds herself the victim of a self-fulfilling prophesy. She feels rejected, and so she adopts an attitude of blame and behaves in a hostile manner toward others, which leads them to further reject her. For this reason, you should acknowledge your feelings of sadness, frustration, and betrayal, and then move on. Remain approachable and friendly even if you feel differently.

    Minimize future rejection:  In addition to maintaining a positive attitude, always aim to improve your reputation as a professional, competent, can-do employee.  If someone you trust makes a suggestion, implement it, and if you see a way to go above and beyond the call of duty, do it.  This won’t erase rejection from your life, but it will at least lessen the number of legitimate causes.

    Rejection is an unfortunate aspect of daily work life, but like most things, it’s within your power to either sail through it easily, or with a lot of bumps.  Hopefully, by following these tips, you will be able to weather the storms more successfully.

    (Photo credit: Bullying in the workplace and office from Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

    Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

    Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

    The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

    Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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    Program Your Own Algorithms

    Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

    Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

    By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

    How to Form a Ritual

    I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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    Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

    1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
    2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
    3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
    4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

    Ways to Use a Ritual

    Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

    1. Waking Up

    Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

    2. Web Usage

    How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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    3. Reading

    How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

    4. Friendliness

    Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

    5. Working

    One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

    6. Going to the gym

    If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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    7. Exercise

    Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

    8. Sleeping

    Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

    8. Weekly Reviews

    The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

    Final Thoughts

    We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

    More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

     

    Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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