I was once employed in a startup where I was expected to know everything about marketing when I only had a journalism background. While I was trying to acclimatise and upskill, my novice ideas were made fun of during meetings. That shattered my self-confidence, making me feel demoralised at work. On most days, I felt unappreciated and rejected at work too.
For the longest time, I was scared of pitching ideas, as my imposter syndrome got the best of me. Now I know that this is not my story alone. I am sure you’ve faced the wrath of being taken for granted at work too.
Some of the most common reasons for feeling rejected include:
- An employee not getting promoted at work, or not receiving the hike they deserve
- Coworkers taking all the credit for another employee’s share of hard work on a project
- A manager criticising an employee publicly for an erroneous presentation
- Someone not getting a project that they thought would be assigned to them
- A new employee not having a work buddy and feeling excluded from office parties
- Employees not being aligned with their primary goals
Feeling left out at work can have multiple reasons. However, they have one thing in common – the pain.
Even though rejections aren’t always loud, they do make you doubt your capabilities. You can still try to use it to your advantage though, and conquer rejection at work. Here are some tips to turn rejection to your advantage:
Watch this video by one of our Kool Kanyas, if you want to learn how to handle workplace rejection!
Steps To Deal With Rejection At Work
1. Don’t Take Things Personally
Taking rejections personally makes it much more difficult for you emotionally. It is better to consider the circumstances as objectively as you can. As rejection can sometimes be fair and impartial too.
For instance, you did not bag the project you worked hard for. Maybe it just means that another employee was more qualified to handle it.
Taking things personally, without confirming the reason behind the rejection, will only lead to wrong assumptions and bad blood.
2. Communicate With Your Manager & Coworkers
In my previous organisation, my colleague stood up to my manager, because he had screamed at her during a meeting. She scheduled a separate meeting to communicate her feelings and tell the manager that it wasn’t appropriate to blow off in public.
Even though we were in awe of her courage, our jaws dropped. Just because your manager has never been called out for their negative behaviour before, because other employees were too scared, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t call them out either.
Overcoming professional rejection needs professional-level courage.
Similarly, if a coworker is taking all the credit for the work that you invested your time and energy in, call them out.
Dealing with a toxic work environment in the right manner will prevent you from feeling saturated. Remember that you owe this to yourself, and a little bit of courage in the workplace today will take you a long way tomorrow.
- Everybody Has ‘Those’ Days: How To Accept Negative Feedback At Work
- You’ve Got This: Use Positive Affirmations To Manage Workplace Stress
- 5 Ways To Hold Your Manager Accountable In The Workplace
- Effective Ways To Assess Yourself at Work
3. Ask For Feedback & Clarity
I’ve always been someone who would rather ask for detailed feedback than face consequences later. Connect with your manager and ask for feedback for your job or the project at hand.
This tells them that you are serious about your work. And that want to learn where you goofed up. Communicating with your boss will help you understand why you did not get an opportunity you thought you deserved.
Detailed feedback will help you in identifying the gaps and building an action plan accordingly.
Set up personal meetings to get clarification on important things. Now is the time to figure out the root cause of your rejection. Embrace constructive feedback with an open mind. This will only help you perform better and deliver error-free results.
4. Accept Your Weaknesses & Start Working On Them
Half of life’s battles are won when we accept and acknowledge our weaknesses. Even if that means identifying the fact that you don’t know Microsoft Excel formulae (yep, that’s me).
But if your job demands that then you’ve got to create a plan and set a target. This is how you can work towards conquering your weakness.
Maybe you’re not valued at work because you’re not skilled enough for a task. Try to upskill yourself to fit into your dream role. If your end game is that promotion you’ve been eying, then it is a good practice to make your manager a part of this goal too.
5. Make Your Progress Known
You might be silently working towards bettering yourself at your job. However, what is the point if your team is not aware? More often than not, our efforts are not seen at work unless we pinpoint them. Nobody will monitor your work if you don’t tell them to. Let your influential coworkers know what you are doing to improve.
If your manager rejects your business proposal, get back to them in a few days. And show them a plan for improvement. Tell them what you aim to do. Mention what your final agenda for growth is.
When you make your plan and progress known, your manager will start acknowledging you, instead of rejecting you.
6. Carve Out Time For Yourself
Identify the timings where you perform the best. Use that time to finish more than 80% of your work. If I perform better between 8 AM and 12 PM. And my productivity is at its peak. So, I take that time to myself. Shortlist your most important tasks. Ideally, focus on the ones that require critical or creative thinking. This practice can make you feel in control of your schedule. And it will also help you track your progress.
Handling rejection at the workplace is not always easy, as thinking objectively takes time. Nevertheless, if you’re currently facing rejection at work, evaluate the whys and work on them.
When you get bogged down, remember that even though you aren’t always at fault, you can take the above-mentioned steps to keep yourself calm during a tense work situation. Do tell us all about your rejection stories and how you handled them at work in the comments below. Maybe they will inspire us too!
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