MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: How should every successful woman deal with rejection? is written by Beth Comstock, senior vice president and CMO of General Electric.
The job went to someone else. The prospect picked your competitor. Your boss said no. Rejection happens – a lot and in every stage of your career. It can be extremely frustrating to hear, especially when you’ve had high hopes about the possibilities. When you face rejection or are told “no”, here are three things to consider:
Should you take it personally?
I’ll admit that too often throughout my career, I assumed a decision was personal. What a mistake! Many times, rejection has nothing to do with you. Not every idea can get the green light. You may be a great candidate, but not the right candidate for the project at hand. However, if it is personal, learn from it. Rejection is an opportunity to get feedback and ask for help. Understand what the issues are and if they are relevant to you find a way to address them accordingly.
Should you take “no” for an answer?
Even good ideas face constraints, such as timing, funding, and resources. It’s tough to underscore just how important timing is; we all know what it means to be too late, but being too early has its downside as well. I’ve seen proposals get turned down and watch ideas die because an employee couldn’t take the rejection. Don’t just give up, instead employ my three-times rule: try new approaches to an idea at least three times before discarding it. Each engagement is a chance to hone the idea and strengthen your argument. My motto is, “You can’t sell if you can’t tell it.” Make sure you have brought your vision to life, made the benefits relevant, and the impact believable. Even then, it still may not work, but at least it’s not for lack of trying.
Shake it off
It’s okay to feel bad if you are rejected. I allow myself to feel disappointed and even sorry for myself for a short while, but then I move on. I do my best Taylor Swift and “shake it off.” Turn all of that negative energy on its head and prove who ever rejected you wrong. And don’t be afraid to find a new project, you never know what it might lead to.