Being able to handle rejection with grace, humour and positivity is not easy. Rejection is tough to handle, no matter how upbeat, resilient and optimistic you might be (and I am). Yet, rejection is the name of the game right now – for many. I am not alone. It’s especially relevant for those of us who are self-employed or freelance because work is often unpredictable and competitive. If you write lots of proposals to get work or have to pitch for business you need to be very good at handling rejection!

There are a lot of books and how-to guides telling you how to deal with rejection. Some suggest positive thinking, coping strategies and visualizing for a better tomorrow. Others tell you about serial phases like “denial”, “bargaining”, “acceptance” you’ll inevitably go through when rejected. Most advice on how to deal with rejection tell you that you need to learn from the experience, pick yourself up, move on and bounce back. All wise tips.

Resilient people tend to view rejection, no matter how many times it happens, as a challenge and respond with action. In this kind of situation, where I’ve bid for interesting, complex and rewarding large-scale projects, I recognize that I am one of many who are probably all qualified, competent, talented and able to deliver. That’s it. There’s nothing much to analyze here. The decision will have been made, based on a number of factors and most feedback tends to be very general. Of the 25 or so proposals I write I win one or two and get shortlisted for the majority.

I know already that next time I write a proposal I will automatically look for new angles, I might go for a completely different piece of work and I’ll seek out all the opportunities I can to take positive action. It’s become default to me. And once I’ve written this, I’ll have forgotten about the most recent rejection. In fact, I believe we need to actively seek rejection every day, go out of our comfort zones and keep taking more and more risks. That way more rejection lies, but also more opportunity, more creativity, more innovation and the next piece of work.

Call it ‘rejection therapy’. We don’t give ourselves enough permission to fail. We do not permit ourselves to experiment much. We can’t get things right all the time. Rejection therapy allows you to go in there and be in control. You’re the one out of your comfort zone. You know the different outcomes and you’re not being attached to any of them. It’s liberating on a lot of fronts and I think when people play it, things become more vibrant in their life. You feel more alive.
So, how do you play the rejection game? Deliberately, look for even more opportunities to get rejected! Ask for things you might normally not – like a free upgrade on a flight or a demanding favour of a friend. Look for those opportunities at work too: seek out opportunities to take risks or try something new, work with people you don’t like, make offers or requests that you are pretty sure will be rejected. Like visiting the client who turned down your proposal or service and asking them why – in person.

The point is to just get used to rejection, over and over again. Actively seek it out and you will soon be open to even more risk taking – and that way finding opportunity lies. Which is what you need. Which is what I need.
So…. rejection therapy – here I come…..I’ll do something every day this week. How about you?

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