When was the last time you felt a sense of rejection? Perhaps you encountered a difficult situation with a group of friends or received some negative feedback from your manager at work. Whether it's in our personal or professional lives, rejection will happen to all of us at some point - and more than once. As hard as it might be to hear or put into perspective what you are feeling at the time, being rejected offers you the opportunity to reflect and learn something new about yourself.
When it comes to rejection, women often blame themselves immediately. "It must have been me. What did I do wrong in this situation?" And millennials - especially those just starting their careers - have likely already felt rejection when they didn't land a job on their first few interviews.
Regardless of your gender or where you are in your career, how you handle rejection is more important than the rejection itself. Here are three ways to handle rejection:
1) Take a step back and assess the situation. Rejection may have very little to do with you. Sometimes the situation is completely out of your control. If you were working towards a new job or promotion, being rejected may have to do with the other candidates or the hiring process or the specific people with whom you interviewed. Often rejection isn't about you at all!
2) Have a strong support group. A crucial piece of handling rejection well is having a strong support group to lean on. It's easy to lean on your support system when things are going well, but when times are tough is when you need this group more than ever. Whom do you turn to when you need support? Whether it's a group of friends, a mentor, supportive colleague or your significant other, it's important to have a group of people who will never let you throw in the towel and give up.
3) Believe in your cause. When I was chairwoman of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, we were trying to build a project - the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Some people didn't like it. They said it was going to cost too much and wouldn't attract sufficient business. Rejection of me and our project was a daily, highly public occurrence. What helped me deal with that rejection was a strong belief that what we were doing was right. We truly believed the convention center would be a major economic driver for the Boston area, a magnet for tourism, and a catalyst for waterfront development. If you believe strongly in what you're doing - or if you believe strongly enough in yourself - then no amount of rejection can change that. In the end, we were right - the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center was built on time and on budget, and has turned into a huge success.
We will all feel rejection at some point but when it strikes, there are two choices: we can give in to defeat or turn it into a positive learning experience that makes us stronger. Which will you choose? I hope you choose the latter.