How to Handle Rejection

I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going rather than retreat.Sylvester Stallone

This is the second of a two part series about rejection:


Understanding the Benefits of Rejection

You are a unique individual with unique tastes, preferences and perspectives. What might appeal to you, may not necessarily appeal to others. This is a good thing because it makes life interesting and diverse.

As humans we certainly have many things in common, however, we’re not mindless robots who do the same thing, live the same way, have the same outlook on life. As a result there will be conflicts, and you are therefore likely to face rejection many times throughout your life.

Whether you’re rejected in a personal social situation or a business professional situation, you must accept that getting rejected is an unavoidable and necessary part of life. This is a good thing, because rejection is necessary for reinventing yourself, for learning new things, and for personal growth. In fact, getting rejected can be a blessing in disguise and extremely advantageous if handled appropriately. However, you must learn from the experience and look at the silver lining behind each rejection you face.

You must not view rejection as a bad thing, but rather see it in a positive light, because the truth is that rejection is critical for long-term success. In fact, people who are most successful get rejected the most often and only succeed because they were willing to risk failure repeatedly.

The more rejection you face the more valuable knowledge and experience you will gain. This knowledge and experience will help you to better understand what to do and what not to do moving forward as you work towards the attainment of your goals and objectives. All this will lead to valuable insights that will help you further your progress, or at the very least shift your thinking or the way you approach certain situations.

Rejection essentially improves your chances of success because it provides you with the feedback you need to adjust your strategy moving forward. The better understanding you have about other people’s wants and needs, the better decisions you are likely to make that will help you to better meet these people’s needs in the future. And this will lead to more approval and less rejection in the long-run.

Rejection can also be a valuable “wake-up call” that alerts you to certain and specific changes that you must make to your behavior in order to get things back on track. It essentially serves as constructive feedback and criticism that you must value and use to your advantage.

In the end, when it comes to rejection, it’s all a numbers game. Not everyone will say “yes” to you, and at the same time, not everyone will reject you. However, by viewing rejection as a learning experience will certainly help you to improve your odds and get more “yes’s” in the future.


Why People Reject You

There are a plethora of reasons why someone might reject you, and none of these reasons have anything to do with you personally. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t still learn from these rejections and adjust your approach the next time around. Every rejection will be a learning experience for you. Therefore you must come to understand what happened and figure out what you need to do to change these outcomes in the future.

Here are the most common reasons why someone might reject you:

  • Because they fear making a commitment or a specific decision that they feel will hurt them or make them feel uncomfortable in some way.
  • Because of bad timing. If your timing was a little different, then they would say “yes”. You’re timing is off, and so you experience the pain of the rejection.
  • Because they lack understanding of what you’re offering them. You haven’t provided them with enough reasons or information for them to be able to accept you or your offer.
  • Because they simply don’t like you. And that’s perfectly okay. Not everyone will like you, and you certainly won’t click socially with everyone else.
  • Because they have different perspectives, opinions, needs, beliefs, values and/or objectives. They are as unique as you, and these things don’t always align.
  • Because they are jealous of you or of what you are doing. And they will therefore reject you to ensure that you don’t get your desired outcome.

Every rejection you face will be a result of one or more of these reasons. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the line for you. You must come to understand why specifically you got rejected and pinpoint exactly what you will do differently the next time around. For instance, even if someone’s beliefs and perspectives don’t match your beliefs and perspectives, you can still with a little effort potentially persuade them to see things from your perspective.

If someone doesn’t want to commit to a specific decision, then you must figure out why they don’t want to commit, and then make them feel at ease about the decision you want them to make.

If someone is jealous of you, then you must convince them that there is nothing to be jealous about. And if they lack understanding about what you’re offering them, then you must learn to provide them with the information they need to make an educated decision.

What if people simply don’t like you? There is usually no quick fix in such instances. Over time you need to work on developing strong emotional bonds with people. Invest your time, energy and emotions into your relationship with them; respect their needs and values, and progressively over time your “likability factor” will increase and you will be in a better position to persuade them to your way of thinking.

To figure all this out you must learn all you can about persuasion and personal influence. These are critical skills that will help you minimize the rejection you face in life.


Coping with Rejection

Being rejected is never easy, however, you can certainly improve your rejection coping strategies over time. Here are some suggestions:

Accept Rejection

Your first response might be to deny the rejection, to feel self-pity or to throw the rejection back at the other person. Don’t go there. Instead, graciously accept the rejection with dignity. It doesn’t matter whether or not the rejection is justified. Just accept it as a part of life, and as a part of your experience. This is the only way you will be able to learn and grow and improve your efforts over time.

Maintain a Cool Head

This flows on from the previous point. It’s important that you stay calm and collected and don’t respond in a negative, irrational or hurtful way. A negative response here will only hurt your chances of getting the outcome you desire.

Maintaining a cool head will also give you more control over the situation. This will help to enhance your levels of confidence, self-belief and self-worth moving forward.

Gain Alternate Perspectives

Accepting a rejection doesn’t mean that you must own it. Begin shifting your perspective about this rejection in a positive way. In fact, use this rejection as a tool that will help you to build your levels of motivation and create momentum moving forward. You could even see this rejection as a challenge to prove yourself the next time around.

No matter what you decide to do, it’s important that you immediately see things in a positive light. It’s only through this kind of perspective that you will build the confidence you need to keep moving forward.

Try Again

Okay, so things didn’t work out the first time around, or the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth… tenth time around either. It doesn’t matter. Just try again. See this as a game. You’re playing a game, and things are temporarily not going your way. Adjust your strategy and tactics and do it all over again.

So what if you get rejected for an eleventh time? All it means is that you haven’t yet figured out a strategy that will work in this particular situation/game. Adjust your approach and make another attempt. Life is nothing more than a number’s game.

Engage in Positive Self-Talk

It’s critical that you keep your spirits high after a rejection. The best way to do this is to engage in positive self-talk.

People’s natural response is to get down on themselves; to doubt themselves, and to criticize themselves after a rejection. Don’t fall into this trap. This is never helpful. Instead engage in solution-focused thinking where you are learning from your experience while searching for ideas that will help you adjust your approach the next time around.

Don’t Take Things Personally

When it comes to rejection it’s important that you never take things personally; that you never make assumptions about the situation or the other person, and that you never indulge in victim mentality.

See the rejection as not something that is a part of you, but rather something that is apart from you. One way to make this shift is to view the situation from a third person’s perspective. This requires thinking in terms of an observer who just watched the event. Think like this person with an open and detached mind and ask yourself:

How would this person perceive this situation?

What would they say?

What advice would they give the person who rejected me?

What advice would they give me?

Seeing things from a third person’s perspective will also help you to work through any assumptions you might have had about the rejection. Don’t make any assumptions. Instead get hard facts about why things transpired the way they did. Keeping an open mind will help you to see the situation in a better light, and this can only work to your advantage in the long-term.


Learning from Rejection

Every rejection you face is nothing more than a learning experience that you must use to help make better choices and decisions in the future. However, to learn from these rejections you must be willing to ask yourself a set of questions that will get you thinking about the circumstances in a new way.

Gaining Clarification Questions

Having been rejected, your first step is to gain clarification about the rejection. You are literally finding out why in fact you got rejected. Ask the other person:

Can I ask why exactly you said no?

What could I have done differently?

Where do you think I could improve?

The responses to these questions can provide you with extremely valuable feedback that you can use to improve your approach in the future. In fact, don’t stop with just these questions. Ask additional questions that are very specific to your situation. The more clarity you have at this stage the more information you will have to work with moving forward.

Reframing Rejection Questions

Your next step is to reframe the rejection you experienced in a positive way. This is especially important if you were relatively unsuccessful during the first questioning stage — because the other person maybe wasn’t willing to provide you with the feedback you desired, or they simply gave you short and irrelevant answers that were of no help at all. It’s also possible that their feedback might have been quite hurtful and emotionally demoralizing. In such instances you need to begin shifting how you are thinking about this rejection, or you might end up lost in self-pity and despair.

To reframe this rejection, ask yourself:

What is good about this rejection?

How is this rejection helpful?

How would other people have responded to this rejection?

How else could I interpret this rejection?

How is this situation absolutely hilarious?

Keep in mind that your natural response to this rejection could be very different compared to how other people would respond in your situation. For instance:

How would a self-made billionaire respond to this rejection?

How would Richard Branson respond to this rejection?

These are only examples. You can throw in any name or person into these questions that relates to your situation and the outcomes you are desiring to achieve. The most important thing to understand is that there is no right or wrong way to respond, as long as your response and view of the situation is positive and helpful in the long-run.

Finding Solution Questions

It now comes time to look for solutions that you could potentially use moving forward. These are the key takeaways that will help you to adjust your strategic approach the next time around in order to minimize the chances of being rejected. Ask yourself:

Why was I rejected by this person?

What are the real reasons why they rejected me?

Are these reasons valid?

Was the approach I took adequate?

Given my approach, did I deserve to be rejected? Maybe I would have even rejected myself?

Did I ask the right questions at the time?

Does the actual reason for the rejection lie within my idea? My argument? My approach? My behavior?

Does the actual reason for the rejection come down to bad timing?

Does the actual reason for the rejection lie within a simple misunderstanding? Maybe a simple conflict of beliefs, values, needs or expectations?

What can I learn from this analysis?

Given all of this, what could I do differently now, or next time around in the future when confronted with a similar situation?

Initially you may need to spend a lot of time looking for solutions. However, eventually you will naturally have more and more answers at your disposal, and as a result you won’t need to spend so much time looking for solutions.

In the end it comes down to a numbers game. The more rejections you face, the more you will learn about yourself and others, and the better prepared you will be the next time around. More experience will eventually lead to less stress and rejection as long as you maintain an open and curious mind throughout this process.


Preparing for Rejection

There are certain things you can do ahead of time that will help you to better prepare for the rejection you are likely to face as you take risks and pursue your desired objectives. These suggestions will potentially help you to minimize the likelihood of a rejection, while also giving you the strength you need to handle rejection-after-rejection without losing hope.

Ask for What You Want Creatively

Learn to ask for what you want creatively and strategically. Don’t get caught up doing the same thing over-and-over again and expecting a different result. If something isn’t working for you, then you must adjust your approach accordingly.

Spend time thinking about how you can ask for what you want, or how you can pitch your ideas or “yourself” more creatively that will motivate other people to respond to you in a positive way.

Build Your Rejection Muscle

Take time to build your rejection muscle daily by risking embarrassment. Go out there and ask for foolish things that you have no emotional attachment to and that you know people are going to reject. Then curiously and innocently ask them with conviction, to give you valid reasons for their rejection. Who knows, you might even surprisingly discover that some people will say “yes”. This is one of the best ways to build your rejection muscle. Then as you gain emotional strength, step it up a little and risk rejection with things that have a little more meaning for you.

This is all about taking baby steps. You won’t grow big muscles over night working out at the gym for one day. However, through consistency over time, the muscles will grow the more often you work them out. The same principles apply to rejection.

Reward Yourself for Rejection

In order to view rejection in a more positive light, and also to give you some extra motivation to go out there and take massive risks, implement a rewards program for your actions. The way this will work is: the more rejections you face, the more rewards you will receive. The purpose is to reward yourself for trying. But don’t just reward yourself for the act of trying. Reward yourself for the creativity used in the act of trying. This will force you to learn from your experience and modify your approach every time you face a rejection.

Draw Up Contingency Plans

Have contingency plans in place for when you get rejected. Better still, have contingency plans in place for specific kinds of rejections that you are likely to face. This might require a little planning, however contingency plans will help you respond to rejection in a far more proactive manner that you can later use to your advantage. Ask yourself:

What if I get rejected?

What if I get rejected in a specific way? (provide example)

How will I respond?

How will I think?

What will I say?

What will I do?

What’s my next move?

The more time you take to plan ahead, the better prepared you will be when faced with a rejection.

By using these guidelines to help you build your rejection muscle, will help you to persist for longer while others are quitting in the face of adversity. And that could be the edge you need to get your desired outcome.


Time to Assimilate these Concepts

Handling Rejection

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