Responding To Rejection

One of the greatest difficulties in life is that there is a seemingly endless stream of negative information, but positivity is few & far between. This is perfectly normal and but that doesn’t mean it feels good! While most of us can handle a certain amount of frustration, rejection, and disappointment, it’s the cumulative effect of this negativity that can lead to exhaustion, paralysis, and/or depression. The problem occurs when we internalize the negativity and allow rejection to impact our sense of our own intellectual capacity, self-worth, and enjoyment of our work.

Responding To Rejection And Negativity

There will always be some negativity in your environment, rejection, negative comments, and/or haters on the scene trying to steal the joy from your moments of accomplishment. Given these factors, the real question is how you can objectively evaluate negativity while keeping it from disturbing your internal peace. Here are some processed you can use to keep from getting overwhelmed by negativity and rejection:

Ask Yourself: Does This Matter?

Many times the negativity in your environment doesn’t matter one bit to your professional success and happiness. I have developed a habit of constantly asking myself: Does this matter? Things that don’t matter include gossiping colleagues, eye-rolling staff and bureaucratic annoyances. For the things that don’t matter, you can consciously recognize them as trifling silliness that you have no control over, so LET THEM GO.

If It Matters, Identify The Heart Of The Problem

If you must engage the negativity, then figure out where the problem is located. Is it your work, your behavior, or you as a person? Differentiating between these 3 things is critical to moving forward. For example, if you have a work assignment negatively critiqued, then the problem is in your work not in your existence as a human being. If you receive criticism from your boss about repeatedly coming in late to work, then the problem is your behavior and not you as a person. Clearly identifying the heart of the problem will help you keep the negativity externalized and pointed in the direction of the problem instead of internalizing it and allowing the negativity to attack your sense of self-worth.

Consider The Negative Input As Data

Once you have cut through the negativity (to deal only with what matters) and identified the core problem, just consider the negative information as data. I know it’s hard to receive rejection, but pull out what’s important, make a plan for positive change and move forward. And while none of us enjoy being confronted about our behavior, it’s better for our colleagues to tell us directly if something is problematic. That honest feedback provides an opportunity for a quick and easy behavioral adjustment and for everyone to move forward.

When Overwhelmed By Negativity, Reach Out For Support

If you are sensitive to criticism, consider reaching out for support. There are many ways to do so. If you are extraordinarily sensitive to criticism, ask a colleague to “translate” the negative feedback. This will allow you to hear the criticism without the nastiness. This can make hearing the revision not only constructive but helpful and exciting.

Pity The Haters

It’s hard enough to deal with the constant stream of negative information, but it’s even more difficult when you do succeed and colleagues try to diminish, dismiss, or devalue your accomplishments. There are some people in our professional lives who simply can’t bear to hear positive information about other people (because they interpret it as negative information about themselves). That means they will do their very best to subtly but persistently bring you down. You know who they are and the pitiful reasons they can’t be happy for you, so don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable to them. On the occasions when haters do penetrate my armor, a loud blast of Jill Scott’s “Hate On Me” always puts things into perspective quickly.

When You Receive Positive Feedback — Celebrate!

Let’s be honest: positive affirmations are oftentimes rare. People are quick to let negative information adversely affect their mood, but refuse to accept a compliment, enjoy positive evaluations, or receive an enthusiastic review. If you do nothing else, let yourself enjoy positive feedback when it happens; savor it & celebrate!

Develop An Internal System Of Affirmation And Value

Most importantly, we must develop our own internal system of value, measures of quality, and definition of success. Unless you have a clear sense of your value, your criteria for “good work,” and your definition of success, you will gradually find yourself influenced by the inevitable negativity and one-upmanship in your environment.

This week, I hope you cut through the negativity in your environment, the compassion and clarity you need to deal with your haters and the wisdom to keep negative information externalized and focused on the problem at hand.


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