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dealing with rejection

Ten years ago, in the 2008 Olympics, Michael Phelps won the Gold Medal in the Men’s 100M butterfly beating out Milorad Cavic by a mere .01 second. Literally, in the 1/30th time it takes to blink, Phelps’s dreams were realized, and Cavic’s were dashed.

Over the course of your lifetime, it’s inevitable that you’ll face this same struggle.

You’ll be told no. You’ll be rebuffed. You’ll even be harshly rejected because of differences between you and your competitor that may seem minor or even trivial.

The good news for Cavic was that he won an Olympic silver medal, something to place on his mantle for future generations of the Cavic family to view, awe, and admire.

When you earn second place, you get nothing…nada…the big goose egg.

So, how do you avoid this harsh reality and always finish first?

The truth is you can’t.

That reality means you need to build what our colleague, Kendall Colman, calls your “rejection muscle” because you’re going to be told “no” way more often than not.

Since you’re going to be told “no” 70-80 percent of the time, you’re going to need to know how to handle rejection.


6 ways to handle rejection


We offer six ways to handle rejection:

1) Understand that “NO” is not negative, it’s only feedback. Life is neutral. The only one who is placing a label on this event is you.

2) Remember that labels are sticky. Once a rejection occurs, it’s easy to move the label from the event to ourselves. Ever hear yourself saying these things? “I suck.” “I’m a terrible person. “I’m such a loser.” Breathe and stop with the labels. Interrupt your “label” thinking with “It’s just experience.”

3) Reflection is not just a three-syllable word. Most people make the same mistakes over and over because they never ask themselves or their colleagues, customers, etc., what they could have done differently. People will often be incredibly open with you about the reasons they said “no” if you ask them.

4) Embrace being #2. We once visited a coffee roaster who said, “Our Company likes being #2. We know that our competitor’s best clients are just one mistake away from calling us.” Never burn a bridge. Stay in contact. Catch up at networking events. Never stop being a resource for them.

5) Be a resource broker. What’s the fastest way to become someone’s #1 choice?  Send your prospect “a trickle” of contacts that they need to know either personally or professionally.

6) Realize you are not the Godfather. In the movie, The Godfather Part II, Michael Corleone famously mumbles, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Remember, the workplace is not the mafia. Make friends with those you see as your competitors—give them reasons to like and trust you. This advice may go against every dog-eat-dog, business-world, spidey-sense you have; but remember, your competitors are just like you. At times, they’re overwhelmed or need the help of outside expertise.

So, here’s our point, the possibilities to be rejected are limitless, but so are your ways to graciously respond to them.


Today’s guest contributors, Tim Brown and Dan Streeter, are the co-authors of Old School with New Tools: The Extra 5% That Takes You to the Top of Your Sales Game and Keeps You There.


Image credit before quote added: Pixabay