How to Deal With Rejection

The story beginsâÂ?¦we were having dinner at Pizza Hut when my father asked me to run up to the waitress and ask her for extra napkins. I just stared at him with the look of puzzlement and fear as this was the first time he had asked me to do something like this. I knew that I wasn’t getting out of doing this by the stern look in his eyes and the tone of his voice. It was almost instantaneous that I felt a big lump in my throat and queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I tried to clear my throat before I uttered words in a small and quivering voice, “But dad, I am not a grown up and what if she says no.” I was only 5 years old at the time and surely any rejection at that age would scar for life.

It just goes to show you that everyone of all ages face and fear rejection. For many, rejection is part of their daily life. For example, John walks into the boardroom a couple of minutes late and the guest speaker, Mary, offers him coffee before she begins her speech. John says, “No thank you.” John has rejected Mary’s offer. Later that afternoon, John finds out from his manager that the promotion that he was in line for has been given to his colleague. Now, the rejection is to John. Although both scenarios are of rejection, the degree of emotional turmoil varies quite a bit.

If Mary had started kicking, screaming and throwing a temper tantrum in the boardroom immediately after John rejected her offer, all of her colleagues would think that she was mentally unstable and that she should immediately seek therapy. However, if it were John who reacted that unstable when he was given his rejection, his colleagues may not be so quick to prescribe therapy however they may question his professionalism in handling rejection.

In reality, the definition of rejection is painfully the same for both instances however the reaction is completely different. Mary did not take John’s rejection to heart. In fact, his rejection had absolutely no impact on her, her speech, or her life. However, the rejection that John faced had more impact on him, his life, and his family. He took his boss’s rejection as a personal reflection of his work ethics and moral character. John sacrificed 3 years of working overtime, traveling extensively, and completing deadlines on time whilst sacrificing his family for higher pay, respect and career satisfaction. How should John react after he had put so much at stake for this promotion? Angry? Depressed? Overjoyed? Yes, overjoyed and in that order.

Handling rejection is personal to the one handling it. If it were someone else in John’s place that had no idea that they were even on line for a promotion and found out after the fact, how would they react? My guess would be, “oh well” similar to Mary’s reaction.

No one wants to feel angry or depressed when they have been rejected. Unfortunately, it is the emotions that most people feel�like John. Anger is the immediate reaction since you feel like the rejection is directed to you personally. Once you have digested that, you feel depressed because you gave yourself, your time, your efforts without reservation and that was not appreciated.

The next morning, 7am, John turns off his alarm clock and decides against getting ready for work. Instead he stays in bed and sulks the entire day and dwells on the fact that his life is going nowhere and no matter what he does, he will never be appreciated. John’s reaction should have been,”What kind of stupid bastard do I work for that don’t appreciate my hard work and diligence. It is not over and I will prove to them that I am worthy of a promotion.”

John’s guilt of sacrificing his family by showing diligence at work and not being compensated has left him depressed and feeling worthless. Someone needs to kick John’s ass and ask him what is he going to do about it? Nothing? Wrong answer.

John could continue working for his current employer and show diligence and perhaps seek recognition for his hard work in other ways. His commitment to his work and to the company eventually would pay off. If John’s been there for 20 years and has gained some stability with the company, he may choose to work for another manager…maybe his boss really is a bastard. Otherwise, he should continue his diligence to seek employers that have the ability to recognize talent, compensate and promote based on efforts. John should feel overjoyed that there is a solution to his problem and he should consider all possibilities.

Sir Issac Newton once said, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Although, his law on motion applies to forces, I believe he would be equally happy if it were applied to my law of rejection. My law states, the degree of rejection should be counteracted with an equal degree of diligence. I don’t believe you should show anger or any harsh emotions in front of the rejecter but you should state your concerns. You should be a good sportsman instead of a sore loser. Finally, if you feel that you have exceeded expectations and the rejection was inappropriate, then work on making them choke on their words and actions. If you show diligence after rejection, everyone can’t help but to take a second look, perhaps reconsider.

Firstly, what everyone needs to understand when facing ANY rejection is how to turn it and make it positive. You need to remember that most problems have one or more solutions. Example, you need an extra $5000.00 by the end of the month. Your application for a bank loan is rejected. Well, you’ll need to stop bitching about the bank and come up with alternatives. You could borrow the money from friends or family or you could borrow a portion and take a second job or refinance your home or sell your coin collection on eBay. Remember there is always a solution. Secondly, changing a negative to a positive is not always an easy task but if you show diligence and overcome it, it will make you stronger, more confident, and able to handle almost anything that comes your way. You reject your 18 year old when he asks to borrow the family car for a date. How does he turn a negative to a positive? By offering to do additional chores or improve his grades or take on a part time job to show responsibility and perhaps purchase his own vehicle. Thirdly, IF you have stumbled across a problem that does not have a solution or the solution is beyond your control, then you need to seek advice because every problem has a solutionâÂ?¦as ludicrous as the solution might be. Believe it or not, but “who cares” can be a pretty good solution when there aren’t too many alternatives. For example, if there is a heated debate at work on abortion, and your opinion is rejected what do you do? Well if you feel strongly, you will be an avid advocate of your cause OR you will say “who cares” and just realize that opinions are like arseholes and everyone has one.

Any rejection doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Some of the best stories have a twist and those twists build character and draw an inner strength inside all of us. That inner strength is what helps us deal with any type of rejection gracefully. Pizza Hut was my first remembrance of a possible fear of rejection; my father eased my tension by his last words on that very topic, “what is the worst that could happen, she says NO. Who cares, just go in the back and get them yourself.”

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