Saturday, September 01, 2007

don't let this stop you

Bless him. Didn’t have the heart to tell my hunky-honey that the letter he was waving in my face probably wasn’t even read by the executive producer whose signature wished him a dynamic and prosperous future.

“Don’t let this stop you,” the letter ended “... we look forward to hearing more of your music in the future.”

Like many of us when faced with rejection, he’d skipped over the formulaic middle paragraph, and zoned in on the bits that gave him the slightest hint of hope that this wasn’t ‘just a standard rejection letter’. After all, that was a real ink signature … wasn’t it?

I’ve
blogged on rejection before, but let’s face it, whether you’re a working creative, a singleton on the dating scene, or a new-job seeker, rejection is going to happen.

According to psychologists worldwide, it’s the number one fear of mankind. That and public speaking. And when you’re emotionally attached to a particular piece of work or specific outcome, a resounding ‘thanks but no thanks’ is that much harder to swallow.

So, after our initial whining session, how do we make rejection more palatable?

If I had the answer to that I’d no doubt make a quick million. But here are seven tools that work for myself and others who are, alas, well-experienced in handling rejection!


  1. Don’t automatically assume you did something wrong, or could have done something differently to influence the outcome. That may be true in some cases; but for the most part, rejection occurs due to a lack of confluence between you or what you’re presenting, and time-place-demand and/or desire. The stars were aligned—or they weren’t. Your work landed on the right desk on the right day—or it didn’t. You met the person who set your heart on fire when you were both willing and available—or you didn’t.

  2. When a loved or desired one rejects you with “It’s not you, it’s me” believe them. It-is-ALL-About-Them. Always has been. Always will be.

  3. When a potential employer rejects you, see it as positive. As a manager, I interviewed hundreds, if not thousands, of potential employees, and it simply boils down to a person being a good fit for the job/team—or not. Doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you or the employer. And you want a mutually beneficial match, right?

  4. When an editor, producer, or gallery rejects your work, resubmit the piece to another pre-selected market the same day. If you have a good relationship with the rejecter, you can ask them why it didn’t fit their needs *if* and only if you did your homework and didn’t present them with something they’d already featured a couple of months ago.

  5. Take inflammatory emotion out of the situation. The rejection is not meant to hurt or injure you as a person, or to crush your creative genius. It’s not personal—if you think it is, read number one again!

  6. Make the Law of Averages work for you by checking-off the rejection as another step closer to getting a yes.
  7. Don’t ever let the fear of rejection stop you from reaching out in any aspect of your life. Our wise elders always say, it's not the things they did that they regret. It's the things they did not do!

What do you have to add on rejection? How do you handle it? What type of rejection is hardest for you to deal with—emotional or work-related? And why?

14 comments:

Ant said...

I would say that most of those bullet points are actually expressing the same thing: don't take it personally. Suck it up and get on with life.

With the exception of number 2 though - it is so totally you. But if you've any kind of heart you won't say this. (I'm thinking of the Seinfeld episode where George blurts out that it is actually her that's the problem, and she ends up in a mental home...)

dinahmow said...

Probably nothing to add but reinforcement.I always try to flip a negative over.You never know when you might find a hidden nugget!

andrea said...

This is all excellent advice, Vicki, not to mention affirmation that I've come a lot farther than I thought. The interesting thing about it all is that though I don't take rejection personally much any more, I also don't take acceptance too personally either. It is what it is -- and there are so many factors involved.

I was recently rejected for a job for which I thought I was a shoo-in, and I actually laughed when I got the rejection -- because it showed that they knew what they were doing! When did I become so objective? (And ask me the same question when I'm suffering from debilitating PMS :)

Ian Lidster said...

Since I am about to send off a MS, and have been procrastinating hugely about it out of fear of rejection -- hey, I have a drawer full of rejections from over the years -- this posting by you was most timely.
How do I handle rejection? Well, once upon a time I used it as an excuse to drink heavily -- ooh, the pain, the pain -- you know what I mean. Since I no longer drink, I don't have that otpion. So, I merely grin and bear it and get back on the horse.
Lovely to have you back, Vicki. Hope the lakes were as wonderful as ever.

Cazzie!!! said...

Sounds like an interview question....what will you do if we do not employ you? MY answer, Ï shall continue to send you my resume every week until I get the position..thankyou, LOL

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

How do I handle it?

Badly, generally.

I have quite a high opinion of whatever output I'm presenting, so when I am presented with an opinion to the contrary, I get quite dejected.

Bibi said...

Ant, funny, I was thinking of that Seinfeld episode when I wrote this. I'm guilty of using that line myself, but bottom line, when we say that to someone, it's a generic way of saying "YOU no longer/never did/never will (...whatever) fit MY needs/expectations/desires." So it is all about them ... at least at that moment. ;-)


Dinahmow, you never know ... I've found some golden ones!

Andrea, yes, makes life easier when one can be obective, doesn't it.


Ian, thank you! And good luck with your ms. I sometimes wonder if I'd be a better 'creative' if I went down the rabbit hole, LOL. (But since I get claustrophobic, think I'll stay up top.)

Cazzie, good for you. I once told an interviewer I never give up and he asked if I was a stalker ... er, no.

Ultra toast, well in the infamous last word of the EP in the letter I mentioned, don't let it stop you!! ;-)

Pamela said...

sometimes it is poor choices made by the rejector not the rejectee.
(are those words ha ha ha)

MSU gal said...

Writers, artists, musicians, and the talented like eventually become immune to rejection as they age.

In the early days it is "What did I do wrong to get rejected like that?"

That later turns into

"What the heck' is wrong with those people to reject me like that!"

Bibi said...

Pamela, that's very true!

MSUGal, that's true also ;-)

walt / wally said...

Thanks Vicki ! You've so wonderfully shared wisdom that countless others have stretched into multi-hundred paged self-help books and professional texts .
It's a gift from which both myself and my lovely , but self-depreciating , spouse will benefit .
Again , thanks for caring to make a difference .
All the very best , walt martin

peteknowles said...

Bibi! You are back ;-)

Very good post.And very timely with my new book negotiations.

Kiyotoe said...

Wow, you should write a book seriously Beebs!

I basically handle rejection the same way in whatever aspect of life. I don;t take it personally (not even in past situations of dating) and I use it to motivate myself to grow in that area.

Bibi said...

Walt, thank you ... and I'm glad it resonated with you. ;-)


Pete, good luck on your negotiations!

Kiyotoe, sounds like a good philosophy to have.