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Reframing Rejection

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

If rejection cuts you to the quick, it can be difficult to work with customers, convert sales, or even endure a lengthy job search.  If you are the sensitive sort there are five things to think about when it comes to rejection:

  1. It’s not you, it’s them.   If you’re dealing with a job search, in particular, the prospective employer not only has to find a candidate with the necessary skillset, but that candidate has to fit within the team of personalities that are already in place.
  2. No doesn’t necessarily mean no or not you.  A prospective employer that does not pick you to fill a position can have a lot of reasons why they made that selection.  They could be rethinking the role now that they’ve had a chance to test drive the job description or the position could have been filled internally even before being posted.
  3. There are other fish in the sea.  This is a lovely little cliché that not only suggests that you will have other opportunities, but that you or the company was not ready to commit.
  4. Know when to fold them.  There have been more than a few articles written where one of the tips for success is to know when to walk away from a prospect.  Whether we’re talking job prospects or sales, you have to be able to tell when something tips the scales and a position is no longer a good fit.  Part of this is about recognizing when a situation is no longer the right one for you.

If you’re like me, it’s not enough to have a list to consider.  Who wants to be thinking about rejection all the time?  My suggestion is to take this list into consideration and consider a persona that best matches how you want to present yourself in the situation. That role can be an actor or person you admire that you model yourself after for these situations or a natural metaphor to keep in mind.  Once you have something or someone in mind there are things you can do to inhabit the role:

  1. Research the characteristics that relate to your situation.
  2. Visualize how you’ll handle the situation differently.
  3. Reflect on and learn from the situation.
Photo by Мария Волк on Unsplash

Be Resilient

Grass was the image that came to my mind when discussing this with a colleague recently.  Grass can get stepped on and may bend but does not break.  With time those blades return to their upright position and no one has to be the wiser.  Applied to this situation, if you were to come up against rejection it may bend you out of sorts but it doesn’t have to break you, your will, or your belief in yourself.

Once you’re face-to-face with rejection, approach it with curiosity and interest.  Ask questions.  If you can’t or it’s deemed inappropriate to find out what happened process the situation with yourself or a trusted friend or family member. By taking ten minutes to think through what just happened, you can bring closure to the situation, “create the context for learning and growth.”

Work Cited

Good-bye Sustainability, Hello Resilience

Change the World:  Treat the Interview as a Sales Call


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