How to Make Rejection Work for You, Not Against You

Apr 10

This past Monday I had an inkling something wasn’t right with a client of mine. Recent brainstorming sessions with their sales team were tense and critical where before they were productive and fun. A number of the management team had been fired in recent months. Never a good sign. Projects that had been easy were now painful to complete as it was obvious things were out of synch.

When the client called on Monday, it was to schedule a mid-week call, something we hadn’t done before. I knew the relationship was over. I wasn’t looking forward to the call.

So it’s now Wednesday evening. The client called earlier today and was very pleasant. She then let me go. Not your fault. It’s the CEO. It’s a tough business. Let’s finish out the month.

Although I couldn’t really afford to lose the income and truly enjoyed the people I worked with, I was O.K. with the news. Really.

In the past, I might have responded angrily. Or had one too many adult beverages. (Post call of course.) And thrown up on my Ugg slippers.

But I was O.K. with it because rejection, whether it’s the loss of a client, the loss of a friend or romantic interest, or the loss of an NCAA Elite Eight basketball game, is part of life and makes us better people. Maybe not immediately, but eventually. It always does.

So I’d like to share how to make rejection work for you rather than against you.

One: Accept rejection with grace. Rejection isn’t easy for anyone, including the one doing the rejecting. In business, such things are often out of the control of the one tasked with ending a relationship or canceling a contract. Instead of killing the messenger, listen calmly, find out why you’re losing the contract or the position, accept it, and thank them for their time. Controlling your emotions does two things. You preserve the relationship (who knows when you’ll meet again in the future or need a reference) and you end the call in a balanced state. Believe me, both are important.

Two: Don’t beat yourself up. It’s easy to get depressed and blame yourself for rejection. Many times things happen that are entirely out of your control and you’re simply collateral damage. Maybe the CEO doesn’t believe in content marketing. Maybe their margins are slipping. Maybe it was simply time for a change. The bottom line: don’t take it personally. Have some ice cream. Move on.

Three: Plan for failure. One of my favorite sayings is, “If the road were straight, life would be dull.” Can you imagine if you won all the time and never faced a loss or rejection? It might seem nice, but how boring is that? Sounds trite, but losing builds character. It makes us stronger. It makes victories sweeter. Bumpy, curvy roads are part of life. Just have a plan to find success or acceptance again.

Four: Let rejection motivate you. A few short days after Virginia knocked Purdue out of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the Boilermaker’s star guard, Carsen Edwards, was on to his next goal, registering for the NBA draft. In an interview after the loss to Virginia, Carsen expressed his thankfulness for his coach and teammates and didn’t linger on the loss. Several days later,  he hired an agent and moved on. That’s motivation. Good luck to you, Carsen!

Five: Know that better things lie ahead. I’ve mentioned that my favorite book, Zen and the Art of Happiness, states that everything that happens to us is the best thing to happen to us. I truly believe this. Losing the client today was hard, but it opens things up for new opportunities. Know something? Just 30 minutes after hanging up with the now former client, my email pinged and there was a message:

Want to partner on a project?

Life is good. Even when it seems bad. Lux-Writes.


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