Here's How to Use Rejection to Your Advantage at Work

The sting of rejection is inherently unpleasant. Whether it's being turned down for a promotion, ghosted by an OkCupid! date, or overlooked for an invitation to a party, it's human nature to dislike not making the cut.

But rejection itself isn't actually harmful. What can be harmful, though, is the damage to self-esteem and resilience it can cause it we let it.

The good news? There are actually positive ways to respond to rejection that can boost your self-esteem, advance your career and fine-tune your ideas. Here are just a handful:

1. Ditch self-criticism.

As Guy Winch explains for  it's crucial not to assume a rejection is personal. "Most rejections, whether romantic, professional, and even social, are due to "fit" and circumstance," he explains.

And while it's okay to analyze what happened and consider if you could do something differently in future, do so in a non-critical way.

"Thinking, 'I should probably avoid talking about my ex on my next first date,' is fine. Thinking, 'I’m such a loser! is not," Winch explains.

how to deal with rejection
Remember this from Sex and the City? Ouch.

If your self-esteem does take a bruising, take action to boost your confidence.

"Make a list of five qualities you have that are important or meaningful," Winch suggests. "Then choose one of them and write a quick paragraph or two (write, don’t just do it in your head) about why the quality matters to others, and how you would express it in the relevant situation."

2. Fine-tune your offer.

Here's a refreshing way to look at rejection: It's a valuable opportunity to use feedback to improve your odds of moving forward.

When possible, ask for feedback and look at what others are doing that you aren’t, suggests Margie Warrell for .

Use that information to fine-tune your offer: Whether it's a cover letter for job, or  a new product you're trying to sell.

"Don't let a rejection go to waste," Warrell urges.

3. Assess whether you need to look at a different path.

Sometimes, rejection is a blessing in disguise: It can actually be a sign that you're not on the right path yet.
"Maybe the path we’re trying to take to get to our goals is all wrong for us, or maybe there’s a better way and we just haven’t realized it yet," J.S. Wayne writes for Lifehack. "Rejection can be a positive experience if you’re willing to take another road or try a new way of achieving the same thing."

4. Get over the fear of rejection.

Here's a blunt truth: You can't remain terrified of rejection and take the risks you need to be successful.
So the sooner you face rejection head-on and yes, even embrace it by taking the steps explained above, the better.
how to deal with rejection
You can't remain terrified of rejection and take the risks you need to be successful. (Photo: iStock)

"By putting ourselves out there, the world will usually open itself up to you," Katie Pisa writes for CNN. "Though the world can seem cruel and cold, actually humans have a hard time saying no.

"So open yourself up, don't be afraid to ask for something."

Watch Guy Winch's Ted Talk on rejection and "emotional first aid" here: