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6 ways to transform rejection into opportunity

how to handle rejection

Did you know that human beings can relive and re-experience rejection more vividly than they can remember physical pain?

Test it out. You will find that your body responds with the same intense feelings of pain when you remember a moment of shame and rejection in a way that it simply can’t when you try to recall a time that you were in physical pain. Neurologically – physically – rejection hurts.

Rejection is common. It is a factor encountered by most people on their way to success. Some would say that people have to experience rejection – the earth-shattering kind – to really get to where they want to go. A few well-known ‘successful rejects’ are Steve Jobs, U2, Walt Disney, and J.K. Rowling who was turned down by several publishers before landing a deal with Bloomsbury to release the Harry Potter books.

Success stories like these show us that rejection can actually be converted into opportunities if we learn how. Rejection doesn’t have to be the end; it can simply be a hurdle to get over in order to produce quality results.

Here are 6 ways to turn rejection into an opportunity:

1. Make it a source of motivation

Sylvester Stallone said that he takes rejection as someone blowing a bugle in his ear to wake him up and get him moving, not retreating!

When seen this way, rejection becomes fuel, or a tool sharpener that gives you the means to improve yourself and produce better output. Use it as a reminder to squeeze more creativity from yourself. Giving up is easy but getting back up and working harder will ultimately reward you.

2. Learn to accept and move forward

Own the fear and shame that comes with rejection. Find someone you trust to discuss those feelings with, instead of letting them sabotage your efforts to pursue the future you desire.

Rejection merely teaches you that you’re human and can make mistakes. Focus on things that are within your control and get creative about how to reframe your task and regain control of the outcome.

3. Patience is a virtue

Jay Hurt, relationship coach, columnist and author explains that you can’t plant seeds in spring and leave the garden in summer because you’re tired of waiting on the harvest: “You have to keep showing up, keep maintaining, and keep pressing forward…. You have to have the perseverance and intestinal fortitude to grind and work until it’s time for the harvest.”

Rejection is a reminder to assess yourself more. It’s all about timing and not doing things in haste. Rushing things just to reach your goal easily will only spoil it for you. Patience in achieving great results enables you to be more meticulous and assess whether revisions are needed in order to make something better.

4. Reevaluate your path

There’s nothing like rejection to make you do a personal inventory. Rejection allows you to consider different paths and alternative approaches. It may lead you to explore new career paths or discover new ventures because the old way may no longer be a good fit.

When you come to a dead end, further education and training can give you skills and knowledge to get you back on track and boost your self-belief.

5. Avoid burning bridges

Feeling disappointed about rejection is natural, but handle it with grace so that you can avoid straining well-established relationships and burning bridges. Maintain your sense of self-belief at the same time: you CAN get this right with more work. Bring something fresh to the table so you can still nurture a relationship after rejection.

6. Is no really a no?

Remember that an objection is not really a rejection, it may simply be a request for further information. Sometimes it’s easier for people to say no than “I’m not sure”, “I don’t know” or “I’m not ready at this moment to give you an answer” because it saves time.

Sales guru Zig Ziglar once said that “Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.” When you’re prepared to answer someone’s doubts and find solutions, you may just find that “no” is not their final answer.


Is rejection really the end? No. It’s more of an opportunity to pick yourself back up and better arm yourself for those things that are really important.

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