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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 March 31, 2020

    Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes & How To Tackle Them

    Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes & How To Tackle Them

    Procrastination is something many people can relate to and I, myself, have been there and done that. Yes, I write all about productivity now, but when I first started out on my career path, I would often put off work I didn’t want to do. And most of the time I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

    So what changed?

    I thought to myself, “why do I procrastinate?” And I started to read a lot of books on productivity, learning a great deal and shifting my mind to the reasons why people procrastinate.

    My understanding brought me a new perspective on how to put an end to the action of procrastination.

    Procrastination slows your goals and dreams way down. It can create stress and feelings of frustration. It rears its ugly head on a regular basis for a lot of people. This is particularly apparent at work with day-to-day projects and tasks.

    But, why do people self-sabotage in this way? Essentially, there are 5 reasons behind procrastination. See if you can identify with any of these in your own work life.

    1. The Perfectionist’s Fear

    Procrastination is sometimes a subconscious fear of failure.

    If you put off a task enough, then you can’t face up to the potential (and usually imagined) negative results. If you’re a stickler for minor details, the stress of getting things ‘just right’ may be too much and cause you to delay continuing the task.

    Either way, fear is at the root cause and can sabotage your desire to move forward.

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    How to Tackle It?

    Try visualizing the completion of your task in a positive way.

    For example, you have a presentation that your boss wants you to conduct for a potential client. Visualize yourself standing in the meeting room confident, meeting the eyes of the client and seeing them light up as you explain the concept simply and concisely.

    Imagine your boss telling you how great you did and you were the best person for the job. Think about how it would feel to you and focus on this as you move forward with the task.

    2. A Dreamer’s Lack of Action

    This is a person who is highly creative and has many brilliant ideas but can’t quite seem to bring them to fruition.

    The main reason for this is because there’s usually no structure or goal setting involved once the idea has been created. This aimless approach ends up manifesting as a lack of decision-making and significant delays on a project.

    How to Tackle It?

    Write down a timeline of what you want to achieve and by when. Ideally, do this daily to keep yourself on track and accountable for progression. Creative minds tend to jump from one idea to the next, so cultivating focus is essential.

    If you’re designing and creating a new product at work, set out a task list for the week ahead with the steps you want to focus on each day. Doing this ahead of time will stop your mind from wandering across to different ideas.

    Learn about how to plan your time and take actions from some of the successful people: 8 Ways Highly Successful People Plan Their Time

    3. An Overwhelmed Avoider

    This is one of the most common reasons for procrastination; the sheer overwhelm of a daunting task.

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    The complexity of a task can cause the brain to lose motivation and avoid doing it altogether choosing instead to stay in its comfort zone.

    The search then starts for a more enjoyable task and the harder tasks are put off. This can cause stress and dread when the task inevitably comes up to be completed.

    How to Tackle It?

    Break the challenge down into smaller tasks and tackle each one individually.

    For example, if you have a project that has technical elements to it that you know you’ll find challenging, list each step you need to take in order to complete these difficult elements. Think of ways you can resolve potential hurdles. Perhaps you have a coworker that may have time to help or even consider that the solution may be easier than you initially think. Put each task in order of most daunting to least daunting. Ideally, try to deal with the more challenging parts of each task in the morning so that momentum is created as the tasks get easier through the day.

    A reward system will also help you stay motivated so, once completed, you can enjoy your treat of choice.

    If you want to know how to better handle your feelings and stay motivated, take a look at my other article: Procrastination Is a Matter of Emotion, Here’s How to Stop It

    4. The Busy Bee Who Lacks Prioritization

    Either you have too many tasks or don’t truly acknowledge the differing importance of each task. The result? Getting nothing done.

    Time is spent switching constantly from one task to another or spending too much time deciding what to do.

    How to Tackle It?

    It’s all about priorities and choosing important tasks over urgent ones.

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    Make sure to question the value and purpose of each task and make a list in order of importance.

    For example, throughout your work day, you can waste a lot of time dealing with ‘urgent’ emails from colleagues but, you need to ask yourself if these are more important than working on a task that will affect, say, several office projects at once.

    Help yourself to prioritize and set a goal of working through your list over the next few hours reassessing the situation once the time is up.

    In my other article, I talk about an effective way to prioritze and achieve more in less time: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    5. The One with Shiny Object Syndrome (Distraction-Prone)

    This is another common cause for procrastination; just simple distraction.

    Our brains aren’t wired to focus for long periods of time and it looks for something else. So throw in a bunch of colleagues equally looking for distractions or checking your phone mindlessly, and you’ve got a recipe for ultimate procrastination.

    However, this type of procrastination may not always be an unconscious decision to sabotage and put off work. It’s simply a result of your work setup or types of coworkers you have. Only you know the answer to that.

    How to Tackle It?

    Be mindful of your workspace and potential distractions. Schedule a specific time to converse with your coworkers, put headphones on to minimize listening to what’s going on around you, and switch your phone off.

    Aim to do this for 20-30 minutes at a time and then take a break. This will be a much more efficient way of working and getting what you need done. This is also why scheduling down time is so important for productivity.

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    Whether this type of procrastination is self-sabotage or being a victim of a distracting environment, either way you can take control.

    If you need a little more guidance on how to stay focus, this guide can help you: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    Bottom Line

    I’m going to be bold and assume you identified with at least one of these procrastination pitfalls.

    You could be trapped in the endless cycle of procrastination like I was, that is, until I decided to find out my why behind putting off tasks and projects. It was only then that I could implement strategies and move forward in a positive and productive way.

    I killed the procrastination monster and so can you. I now complete my tasks more efficiently and completely killed that feeling of stress and falling behind with work that procrastination brings.

    I know it’s not easy to stop procrastinating right away, so I also have this complete guide to help you stop it once and for all: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

    Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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