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Seven Steps to Dealing with Rejection

No one really prepares us for rejection, other than life itself giving every one of us our own unique lesson in it.  The simple act of selecting something or someone is in itself an implicit rejection of all else that was on offer.  We could not function if it weren’t for our ability to choose.

We experience rejection both explicitly and implicitly from the day we are born, and yet it is the one thing we dread most in our daily lives.  We avoid it if we can. It feels personal. It can make us question our own self-worth. It seems so unfair. And yet, rejection bothers us less when we’re the ones doing the rejecting.

People would generally rather ignore a request than reply with an outright NO. Learning to read someone’s body language and intuit their inclination is a good way to avoid asking them for things they’d be uncomfortable agreeing to.

A No is not a Never, nor is it a measure of your abilities.  Sometimes it’s simply not the right time, or it isn’t the right person, or it isn’t the right offer for that person.

What comes across as a crushing no might just be a not yet, or a sign that something better is waiting for you. As leading life coach Steve Chandler puts it,Yes lives in the land of Noes.  Keep looking, you will eventually find it.

Practice makes progress.  The more you practise asking for things you really want, irrespective of the response, the better you will handle rejection.  The idea is not to simply grow a thicker skin.  The objective is to learn from each rejection and become more skilled in the art of asking.

The art of minimising rejection lies in becoming more selective in terms of the what, how, whom and when of asking. It’s far better to get one yes after asking four carefully chosen people, than to get the same result after indiscriminately asking ten.

Here are seven steps on dealing with rejection and improving your chances of success:
1.   Communicate your request with clarity, conviction and politeness. And there are bonus points for enthusiasm. Most people find it hard to reject someone who asks nicely.  Don’t be vague, don’t waffle and don’t waste everyone’s time. And whatever you do, don’t come across as desperate or needy.
2.   Accept their decision with grace.  You may not agree with their decision but it is important that you acknowledge and accept it with the same politeness as if they’d said yes.  Rudeness, resentment or petulance in the face of rejection won’t win friends or favour.
3.   Ask for feedback.  If someone says No, find out what you could have done differently to win a yes.  Be open to their critique, even if it hurts. Your harshest critics will often be your best teachers, better than your loyal fans and supporters.
4.   There is a "no" in knowledge.  You will learn more from your setbacks and failures then you ever will from all your successes.  Use each rejection as a gold mine of new information with which to learn and grow.
5.   Find reasons to keep going.  When life has kicked you one too many times, it takes courage to get up and try again. Having a larger purpose, someone in your life who depends on you, can propel you to keep going.
6.   Find your personal champion.  Most people who become successful despite repeated setbacks attribute it to one or more people in their lives who believed in them completely even when no one else did.  Whether it is a parent, a spouse, a colleague, a friend, a mentor or a coach, they can become the wind beneath your wings.  Appreciate them.  Their belief in you is one of the best gifts life can ever grant you.
7.   Take time to stop and reconsider.  Out of rejection, sometimes comes inspiration. Perhaps you have been going down the wrong road all along.  Your destiny lies elsewhere.  When you find it, you will be thankful for all those Noes that once made you feel like a failure.

Winston Churchill once said, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal.  It is the courage to continue that counts".

Rejection is a part of our lives, no matter how successful we become or how old we are. How we handle it, both as a giver and a recipient, will define us as individuals and the path we take in our lives. If you’ve never been rejected, chances are you played it too safe.