Have you ever...
Applied for a job and gotten the dreaded "We regret to inform you..." email (or worse, didn't yield a response at all)?
Pitched an idea you were really proud of to your boss, and gotten a "No"?
Been let go from a position because you "were not a good fit"?
You're not alone - we all experience rejection. Rejection may not be your favorite thing, but with the right mindset it can actually be an opportunity to learn!
"I thought I did so well in the interview! What happened?!"
Give Yourself Time To Process The Situation
It's O.K. to feel disappointed
Your feelings are valid! Feel your feelings so you can let go of them.
Use coping strategies
Go for a walk around the block.
Jot down your feelings and revisit them the next day.
When the feelings bubble up take ten slow, deep breaths.
Turn to a trusted friend or colleague
The simple act of talking can help you sort through your thoughts and feelings.
"I spent all weekend developing the new menu and the head chef went with Marcus's menu instead!"
Melinda got through three of four interview stages at a company and received an email that she would not be moving forward to the final stage. She is devastated. Which strategies might help?
Reflect On The Experience
Once you have worked through the initial shock/disappointment/frustration, it's time to get down to work!
"Maybe I could have better described why I was a good fit for the role. I'll jot down some points to keep in mind for next time."
What really happened?
Critically assess the situation, being as objective as you can.
Ask yourself what the possibilities are:
Were you passed over for the position because you interviewed poorly, or did someone else just have more qualifications?
Did you fill out the application correctly?
Did you forget to mention an important point in your pitch?
Ask for feedback (and really listen!) Be direct and ask if there is anything you could have done differently. You may or may not receive a response if it was a job rejection, but it is important to try!
Can you reverse the rejection?
While this may not always be an option, a rejection may not be final. Ask if there is anything you can do to change their mind - you have nothing to lose!
Perhaps the idea you pitched would be reconsidered if you were more flexible on some of the details.
You might get the promotion if you agree to take a training course.
A quick conversation or email might be all that it takes!
"Would you consider partnering with me on the project if we met at your office, and in the mornings instead of the afternoon?"
Look To The Future
Once you have thoroughly processed the rejection, it's time to apply what you discovered from the experience!
Action the feedback you received
Did the interviewer say that you came across as not confident in your skills? Perhaps you did not get into the Master's program because you need more volunteer experience in the field. What step can you take to make sure this isn't an issue next time?
Consider new opportunities
Maybe you didn't get that promotion within your company, but will find a job posting at a different company for which you are better suited! What other opportunities might be a fit?
Overcoming a rejection is a triumph! Give yourself credit for learning from the experience.
You applied to a job in software development and learned that you did not have enough experience with Angular to move forward in the hiring process. How could you respond to this feedback?
Lean Into The Experience Of Rejection
Experiencing rejection is unavoidable, so why not actively practice the skill of dealing with rejection?
Jia Jiang began the project 100 Days of Rejection. He went out of his way to be rejected each day for 100 days (and recorded the experiences on YouTube) in an attempt to manage his fear of rejection.
One of the lessons he learned was that by asking, he would often get something from the exchange:
"I found out if I just don't run, if I got rejected, I could actually turn a "No," into a "Yes," and the magic word is "Why."