Nobody likes rejection. The letter that says “thanks, but no thanks” can still hurt and challenge your self-esteem. When you are rejected for a position that you want, and believe you can do better than anyone else, it can be painful.


We have all had to deal with rejection, be it a job rejection, personal rejection, falling short when pitching for business, and so on. Your self-esteem determines how you bounce back from such a setback.


When we experience rejection, what matters most is how we choose to interpret, and deal with it. For instance, it can be easy to blame ourselves, and look for flaws in our own make up.


Self-Esteem and Peak Performance

Some people take rejection personally; they withdraw and lose confidence, then try to avoid another rejection. This approach is counter-productive. So, how best can we deal with rejection? We can allow it to wear us down, and be miserable with it, or we can use any setback as an opportunity to learn and grow. Take it on the chin, and move on. This, of course, is ‘easier said than done’.


What you should not do is deny that you feel hurt and let down. Indeed, facing up to the fact that you have bruised emotions is the first step in helping to move on.


p-self esteem


Think about the meeting and evaluate it. How might you have done better? Did you prepare enough? Were you confident? Did you come across well – as a listener, as well as putting your own case across? Did you feel rapport between yourself and the other parties? Whilst these questions will evaluate your performance, other questions are required to evaluate your self-esteem. When delivering leadership and management training courses in London and Manchester, I will often ask the participants to evaluate their own self-esteem through a series of such questions.


Honestly facing up to those questions will help you assess your self-esteem and performance to prepare you for the next meeting. You might admit that you did too much talking. You might consider that you failed to ask appropriate questions. After an honest, personal assessment, you are in a better position emotionally to move on. This rational self-assessment will preserve your self-esteem.


Become objective rather than taking matters personally. Maybe you just were not the right person for the job and just a case for the right person to fill the brief at the right time. There is nothing to be ashamed of about that.


Lessening the impact of rejection

Sometimes we try to be all things to all people, in a bid to court favour. For example, we might not be tennis enthusiasts, but in certain company, we want to talk about Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. We might not like ballet, but if it makes an impression, then maybe going to see Swan Lake seems like a good idea.


This approach ‘paces’ the other person’s values and enhances rapport. When two or more people experience rapport, the tone of the communication changes and the occurrence of unhelpful emotions will lessen. Rapport will preserve your self-esteem.


Learning from your previous mistakes will help you; make sure that you conduct the next meeting much better next time. Remember, the meeting could have gone the other way. You might have arrived for an interview and decided it was not for you; even though they wanted to offer you the job.


In the roles of leadership and management, become sensitive to other people’s feelings. Treat others as you would expect to be treated to preserve their self-esteem. Avoid a short, sharp “no thanks” and be constructive, or at least compassionate, without being patronising.


Rejection is never easy, but it is tolerable with some honest personal assessment about why it happened, some constructive and encouraging feedback from other people and a positive response that next time will be better.



Nicholas Hill
Nicholas Hill

About the Author

Nicholas C. Hill is Managing Director and Principal Trainer for The Hill Consultancy Ltd, London, specialising in UK-wide public training courses in leadership and management development. Become a highly productive manager and influential leader today. Claim £100 off the list price on any two-day course. Promotional code: PASSION0213. Visit the website or call now to find out more or request a FREE consultation.

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