The Art of Handling Rejection In Business


If you have been investing in your career (even a little), then you have run into rejection. Rejection is inevitable in life, especially if you’re making an effort and putting yourself out there. 

It’s not fun. Handling rejection in business, and in life, is a skill that we aren’t always taught and, quite frankly, don’t really want to acquire through experience. However, if you know how to handle rejection in business, then you are going to be lightyears ahead of your competition. 

Why? Because you will not let rejection push you backward. You will use it to keep moving forward.

Here are some strategies I use to make rejection less painful and more useful when I get it.

Rejection is inevitable in life, especially if you're making an effort and putting yourself out there, but it doesn't have to stop you. Learn more from "The Art of Handling Rejection In Business." Click To Tweet

Don’t Expect Rejection Before It Happens

Try not to expect to get rejected before you actually do. Most of the negative situations you worry about will never happen. If you fret and dread what might occur, it will show all over your face, in your voice, and in your manner. People will see it and give back what you project and seem to expect.

If you are unconsciously asking for rejection, then people will (often unconsciously) give it back to you. The more you expect to be accepted, the more you, your ideas, and plans will be accepted.

Evaluate the Rejection

Evaluate The Rejection

If you are rejected, try to understand why you were rejected. Consider the source, situation, and any other contributing factors, so that you accurately understand the rejection.

Often, at least some of the rejection is valid. We all have blind spots we don’t see, but other people do. It may not feel good in the moment, but the person who points out the flaws in your approach or plan is doing you a favor. You just have to be willing to use their insight to grow.

If you are rejected, try to understand why you were rejected. Consider the source, situation, and any other contributing factors, so that you accurately understand the rejection. Click To Tweet

Act On The Rejection Where Appropriate

If you decide the rejection is valid, immediately do something about it. Change whatever you need to change in your actions or behavior to minimize the pushback from recurring.

Later, thank the person(s) who gave it, briefly explain the changes you made, sustain the changes, and then forget about the rebuff.

Get Used to Handling Rejection In Business

Get Used To Handling To Rejection In Business

Get calloused to the fact that not everyone will like you or what you do, no matter what. Think about it; you don’t like every person and every thing others do either.

There is a percent of the population that will disapprove of you, regardless of how good you are. Take heart in the fact that some people don’t like the Pope, Miss America, or SpongeBob either. Life is not logical or fair. As the country and western song goes “sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.”

Avoid Behaviors That Will Attract Rejection

You’ll have plenty of practice handling rejection in business without inviting it, but if you’re guilty of any of the following behaviors, you will increase your chances of receiving negative reactions from people.

Try to eliminate the following characteristics from your operating style now:

  • Procrastination
  • Lack of organization or goals
  • Self-criticism; low self-esteem
  • Perfectionism
  • Blaming other people
  • Difficulty in making a decision

Addressing these issues on your own will not only safeguard you against unnecessary rejection but will make you a better leader overall.

Don’t Let Rejection Keep You From Trying

Don't Let Rejection Keep You From Trying

Being successful means you’re going to be put in situations that will inevitably end in rejection. When that rejection happens, do not give up.

After my first book Lions Don’t Need to Roar I thought, “That’s it. I wrote a book. I’ve done it.” What I didn’t know is if it sells well, the publisher wants you to write another one. I thought I was a one-book person – I put everything I knew into that one.

Well, the publisher insisted and paid a nice advance, so I struggled to write another, the whole time thinking, “I can’t do this.” And then one night, I woke up at 3 AM and decided to change the words to “I can do this.”  

I went back to sleep, and when I woke up, I started writing How To Think Like a CEO (Warner Books) which made all the big business bestseller lists. Of course, then I got hooked on writing books and have just finished working on my twelfth book, The Empowered Introvert’s Guide to Networking: Expand Your Network and Embrace Your Authentic Self which will be published in November.

I don’t tell you this to brag but to give you the backstory to my success as a writer.

I have a file titled “Book Proposals.” You see, even though the publisher wants you to write another book, you still have to have a good idea. So you pitch a proposal you think they might buy.

In one six-month period, I presented eight different proposals to them. Each one was rejected until the last one hit the mark.

To give you an idea of what was rejected:

  • How to Present Like a CEO: The Ten Keys to Commanding Authority, Influencing Others, and Leaving a Positive Lasting Impression
  • Do It Everyday: 365 Tips, Tricks, and Tales from a Leadership Development Expert
  • Beyond Brilliance: 101 Ways to Ensure Your Upward Mobility
  • Busting Out of Pink Collar Prison: Career Advice for Women on How to Break Out and Prosper
  • Fix It!: Today’s Business Leaders Show You how to Solve Problems and Become Tomorrow’s Leaders
  • Top Dogs Talk: What Good Leaders Do and You Should Too
  • The Heart of the CEO: The Human Side of the Public Job
  • What to Do From Age 22 to be CEO by 42

Every single pitch got rejected except the last one, which was re-titled and became my ninth book, CEO Material (McGraw-Hill).  So when I brag about a new book, remember that it came after l-o-t-s of rejection. 

You and I just have to keep trying though, don’t we?

Handling Rejection In Business 

If you can learn from rejection and keep pushing, no matter how many times you’re rejected, you will accomplish two things. First, you will find that you have grown in your leadership skills more than you would have otherwise. Second, you will realize that you are completely capable of handling rejection. You have what it takes to keep pushing and not let rejection hold you back.

If you could use some help navigating a rejection or other challenging situation, contact me about a long-term coaching relationship or book me for a Bite-Size Executive Coaching session today.

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4 thoughts on “The Art of Handling Rejection In Business”

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