Rejection Doesn't Have to Be a Bad Thing. Here's How You Can Use It as a Tool for Success. Rejection can actually be helpful if you look at it the right way. Use these expert tips to embrace it.

By Amy M Chambers

Key Takeaways

  • What if rejection doesn't have to be hurtful and can be immensely helpful instead? Five strategies for changing how you feel about rejection include not taking it personally, getting excited for rejection, learning from it, understanding things can change and adjusting your strategy.
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When I was 22, I had a boss who taught me to crave rejection. At that time, I was in a sales role and had shared with her that I felt all I ever heard was the word "no."

The following month, she ran a competition to see who could hear "no" the most. And yes indeed, I was the victor. So much good came from that experience. I realized that rejection is a part of sales, and it's also a part of life. I learned that highly successful people know this and aren't miffed when they're told no. In fact, they embrace rejection and even learn from it.

Successful people use rejection to get stronger. However, many people don't feel this way about rejection. If you're struggling to feel good about being rejected, here are four steps you can take to completely rewire your brain.

Related: 5 Ways to Turn Rejection Into Resilience

1. Don't take it personally

Often, we struggle with rejection because we feel it's personal. But rejection usually isn't personal.

When rejected, it's easy to wonder what the rejection says about us. But often, rejection doesn't say anything about us. Instead, it says something about the other person. Frequently, we ignore or discount the reasons we're given for the rejection. Instead, we look for another reason (the real reason). Usually, another reason doesn't exist.

If someone says they don't want the product or service we're selling because they can't afford it at that time, they usually mean it. If someone says they can't attend the event we invited them to because they're too busy, they usually mean it. Spending time beating ourselves up and wondering what the rejection really says about us and how likable we are is often a tremendous waste of time. When we trust the reasons we're given for the rejection, we can move on and strike out again much faster.

2. Get excited about being rejected

Rejection usually doesn't feel good. For many, that's why it's hard to imagine what (if any) good can (and will) come from it.

Remember: Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. Recognize that you have a choice in how you feel about rejection. Whatever story you tell yourself about rejection comes from you. It's up to you to interpret the information that exists in your world. You have the power to flip the script, change the narrative and tell yourself a different story.

You can choose to view rejection as a good thing — it means you put yourself out there, asked a tough question and exuded courage. It means you got out of your comfort zone, which always helps us grow and evolve. It means you got to practice a skill (the skill of asking, influencing or selling). That practice will help you grow thicker skin and hone your craft, making you stronger and tougher. With that in mind, you can choose to view rejection as a good thing.

Related: How to Overcome Rejection and Move Forward With Your Big Goals

3. Ask why — and learn from it

Most people feel pain when rejected. When we experience any kind of pain, our first reaction is often flight or fight. We either walk away, as quickly as we can, or we double down and argue. When it comes to rejection, neither approach works well.

Here's what does: Engaging the person who rejected you from a place of true curiosity. Questions such as: "What was the biggest factor in your decision?" or "What, if anything, would've made you say yes?" or "What could I offer or do next time that would excite or interest you more?"

These questions are great tools to help you learn from rejection. Perhaps you can give feedback to your boss that your product's price point isn't appealing or the benefits aren't meeting market demand. You might learn that a slightly altered product or service would've garnered a yes, and perhaps you can negotiate an exception from your company that allows you to go back and offer the client what they really want.

Every so often, there is something you could've done or said differently that would've been persuasive. Getting information about how to proceed more effectively next time is a win. With that mindset in mind, rejection is actually a good thing — it helps you improve.

4. Know that things can change

Remember that most things in life aren't permanent and people's situations can change dramatically from one year to the next (or even one month to the next). Just because someone turned you down once doesn't mean they'll turn you down every time.

Ask permission to reconnect or touch base again later. Maybe your friend can't make time to see you this month, but they'll be able to next month. Perhaps the client you've been trying to sign all year will be in a different financial situation next year. Recognize now simply might not be the right time for whatever you're proposing, and while that's okay, it may not always be the case.

Related: 4 Ways to Handle and Overcome Your Fear of Rejection

5. Adjust your strategy

After you get enough information to learn following a rejection, you get to employ what I call PDCA — plan, do, check and adjust.

Once you've been rejected and know why, you can adjust your strategy. You might learn that making calls at lunch time isn't effective because no one answers the phone. You might learn you've been targeting the wrong demographic and need to pick different prospects. You might learn prospecting on the weekdays isn't as effective as prospecting on weekends.

Rejection, if used correctly, can be an excellent teacher because it can guide us to make changes to what we do and how we do it. You might decide to start frequenting community events or join a networking group to be more successful. In the end, if being rejected causes you to do something new and different, that's another win.

Having a healthy, strong relationship with rejection is a true game changer. If you adopt these five philosophies on rejection, you'll find rejection isn't nearly as painful as it once was. You might even begin to look forward to rejection.

Amy M Chambers

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Executive Coach, Life Coach, and #1 International Bestselling Author

Amy Chambers spent 21 years in financial services and has 15 years of experience in leadership, leading over 500 people to success. She's the author of the #1 international bestselling book, The 7 V.I.R.T.U.E.S. of Exceptional Leaders. She completed her undergrad at Notre Dame and her MBA at USC.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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