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Rejection hurts. We don’t want to feel that we are not good enough. It keeps us from doing things. But it’s something that we have to deal with from time to time. Imagine the following scenario:

You have this brilliant idea.

You feel highly motivated and you work incessantly on this big new thing.

You present the idea to someone or the world.

You wait… You wait… You wait…

And no one engages with your new thing.

You have just been rejected and negative thoughts start flooding your mind.

If this seems familiar, keep reading. I will share with you a few things I have learned when I worked as a salesman in cold sales. For context, the job was to approach people in the middle of the mall and try to sell them insurance.

Remember: it’s not you

Rejection is not aimed towards you. Most likely something is missing or the other person doesn’t feel like they are a good fit. It’s hard to mention the different reasons why that rejection happened, but here are a few common ones:

  • The idea needs more work or thought
  • The other person doesn’t think they will be able to dedicate time to the project that was proposed
  • Your offer is not yet good enough to work with a team
  • You couldn’t connect with the other person
  • The other person simply isn’t interested
  • The other person is too busy and won’t be able to add value or spare time to help

None of these reasons has anything against you as a person. Even if you weren’t able to connect to someone, you can try to rationalise and figure out why this happened. Perhaps you were nervous about an interview or maybe you just need to improve your social skills further.

The important thing to remember is that you can work on what went wrong and get better.

Changing your mindset from thinking that the problem is you, to think that the issue is what you know, might be hard. It will take time, but is definitely worth it. Not only will you grow and learn new things, but also, you will seem more mature by the way you deal with rejection.

For example, when you get rejected in an interview, it’s very easy to think that the problem is you and not some skill or area that you need to improve.

Interviews can be scary. You are outside your comfort zone. Not only you have to be in a place that you have never been, but you also need to talk with people that you have never met before. You have little time to make a good impression, at the same time, you need to show your knowledge and you need to say all the right stuff.

On the other side, your interviewers are trying to figure out a bunch of things as well. Are your technical skills enough for the position, are your social skills good enough to fit in the team? Do you have experience? How do you deal with failure, rejection and step-backs?

An interview is dynamic. One side is trying to show all the good, while the other side is trying to read between the lines and try to figure out if your skills will be a good fit for the team.

Remember, even if you get rejected, the issue is not you. If possible, ask and try to work on those things. Also, it’s normal to be nervous. The interviewers know that interviews are a bit awkward. Try to talk with them so you can loosen up with time. Imagine that you are talking with a long lost friend.

How to reject in a good way

There will come a time when it’s you that will have to say no. But there is a good way to do it and a few pretty bad ways. One thing that you need to keep in mind is that you are talking with a person, not a thing.

Rejecting someone is unpleasant. You might be tempted to put it off for a while, or even just not say anything at all.  

This is wrong. You should never leave someone hanging without a reply.

Think about a time that such a thing happened to you. Wouldn’t it have been better to just know the answer and the reason for that no?

When it comes to saying no, remember to be as polite as possible. Explain why you made that decision. Perhaps the idea needs more thought, or you feel that you are not the right person.

If possible try to end the explanation by pointing out what the person did well or what was good in the idea.

When rejecting something follow the structure:

  1. Saying no
  2. Explain why
  3. Say something nice

This will make the other person remember the good things you said and the rejection will feel less harsh.

Rejection sucks, but it’s not aimed at you as a person. Most likely your skills need to improve a bit or the other person can’t spare the time to work with you.

Feedback is important and you should ask for it. Unfortunately, sometimes you won’t get any and that’s alright. Even without feedback, you can see the experience as a learning practice, analyse what went well and what didn’t. Next time you will be much better.

Keep learning. Keep growing. Keep evolving. Rejection and failure are great ways for you to learn, remember that it’s pretty hard to get a yes and be successful on the first try.

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