Rejection in the workplace


One thing all successful entrepreneurs have learned is how to cope with rejection. In the workplace, everyone faces rejection. There will always be more ‘no’s’ before you receive a ‘yes’. In the book “To Sell is Human” by Daniel Pink, he says that people are spending about 40% of our time at work engaged in non-sales selling. Persuading, influencing and convincing, which means we are all salespeople.

Self-doubt, fear and, rejection in the workplace can hinder our productivity and add stress. We need to re-program our brains to view rejection as a stepping stone.

Let’s face it, rejection is painful, it has a profound effect on shaping us as individuals. We will all face rejection in the workplace. You may be passed over for a promotion, you may be told you’re not a good fit and lose a job. Oprah Winfrey has often shared her experience about being asked to leave the position as news anchor which lead her to the talk show arena. She describes how hosting the talk show was as easy as breathing, she found her passion.

In today’s technological world of instant gratification with social media, the experts have identified that when we get text messages, likes, and comments on our social media posts it releases dopamine in our brains. Dopamine is a highly addictive chemical. According to Simon Sinek, he states that we are seeing too many people who don’t know how to cope with rejection. As a society we have replaced the traditional coping mechanisms of personal relationships, talking with friends and seeking human interaction with the instant responses to text messages or social media. When we are rejected, we do not have the tools necessary to deal with them in a healthy manner.

Rejection is a part of life; how we choose to respond rejection will determine the course of our future.

4 ways to overcome rejection:

  1. Acknowledge your emotions

It is okay to feel embarrassed, sad, disappointed. Successful people do not try to minimize the pain, they face it head-on and deal with it.

  1. Rejection is evidence that you are pushing the limits.

This means you are not afraid to take risks and stepping outside of your comfort zone.

  1. Treat yourself with compassion

Rather than give yourself negative self-talk by saying things like “I am so stupid” give yourself a more affirming message. “I tried…”, “I learned…”

  1. Learn from Rejection

There are always ways to improve. The best leaders are constantly learning, they are seeking a way to improve all the time and are not comfortable with the status quo or compliancy. Utilize rejection as an opportunity to move forward, with each rejection and failure we learn things and gain wisdom. Be sure to ask a trusted co-worker or supervisor for good feedback, listen and then work on making adjustments and improvements. I shared the story before about a position I had where I was given criticism. My feelings were hurt with what was said, I listened to the criticism, listened to the suggestions and then worked on making adjustments and improvements.

Actor Matthew McConaughey spoke to a college graduating class and the first thing he told the graduates is that “Life is not easy”. The sooner we acknowledge that life is not easy, that there are struggles, disappointments, and hardships and that we have to work for success the better. McConaughey counseled that if your seeking happiness you will always be seeking. Joy, on the other hand is the process, the journey and that regardless of the rejection or challenges there is always joy in life. Seek ways to learn from the setbacks, define what success is to you, for some, it is position or wealth, for others, it is balanced with family and work. However, you define success, be sure that you are always working to keep the balance. Learn how to cope with rejection and find joy.

Cheryl Viola, Executive Director


  • 5 RULES FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE | Matthew McConaughey. (2018, November 11). Retrieved from
  • Addiction to Technology is Ruining Lives – Simon Sinek on Inside Quest. (2016, December 12). Retrieved from
  • Get Used to REJECTION – Jack Ma – #Entspresso. (2017, June 20). Retrieved from
  • Morin, A. (2015, November 11). 5 Ways Mentally Strong People Deal With Rejection. Retrieved from