It’s going to happen to you. It happens to everyone. However, as hard as it may be sometimes, don’t let it define you.

Rejection sucks. Simply put, it’s just a part of life, but walking away from a situation that leaves your head reeling with emotions of rejection can be hard to navigate.


Pride Is Not a People Pleaser

I’ve always been a super passionate designer, and human being for that matter. My German roots leave me with a pretty black and white understanding of life, with an exacerbated bent on doing things “right”. But as you may be stating, doing things the right way, is usually a subjective concept within human community.

Having confidence and straight up being cocky are different, but while you might be trying to instill confidence into yourself or respectfully project that reality onto others, the message isn’t always received as innocently as you may have meant it.

When applying for a creative agency these days, you’ll realize that pride is not a welcome personality trait (even saying so within the job description), and for good reason!

Any working environment in any industry is made up of people, not robots. We say and do things, sometimes to our own detriment. Sometimes people act prideful towards us, and dealing with it in grace is just as important as not coming across boastful yourself!

Our workplaces are made up of people; a certain culture usually. Some enforce culture, while I know of others who let their culture ebb and flow with personalities of the newly hired. Regardless, expressing respect, and conveying an attitude of collaboration is key…get this wrong, and you’ll likely experience rejection yourself, quite possibly from your manager.


Ways to deal with how you/others communicate…

  • Watch that you don’t express closed off body language, annoyed facial expressions, or negative tone of voice (seems obvious, but this can be 2nd nature)
  • Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger
  • If you feel like someone is acting prideful towards you, sit down over a cup of coffee and get to know them better. They’re probably just fronting to prove their worth. Break them down with intention / respect, and they’ll probably stop.
  • If it doesn’t really bother you that much, forget about it and move on.


Dealing With Undeserved Rejection

With multiple personalities involved in work, you’re bound to run into impossible people. It’s just gravity. I wasn’t ready for this.

Awhile ago, a guy I used to work with emailed me out of the blue, accusing me of something I hadn’t done (I had actually stuck up for the offended person in this situation; he had things backwards). I responded, explaining my side, sticking up for myself. I wasn’t short for words in a response, yet did my best to be respectful. Apparently I had failed.

After a few pointless back and forth emails (like 14), I tried to remedy things, saying the whole thing was just a big mis-communication and I wanted us to move forward if we could; forgive each other and move on. He didn’t seem interested.

I ignored his every attempt to try to get under my skin over the next 24 hours, and yet my silence seemed to be spinning him out of control, now harassing me on social media, making fun of my profile photos, calling me names, and even calling my cell phone to “take it to the next level”, he texted.

I was in utter dis-belief of what was happening. “Seriously?Is this grade-school?” I wondered. Had this actually been someone I’d respected at some point in time; looked up to even?

This ate at me for months. I hated feeling like someone had something against me. Bitterness. Resentment. Anger. I had to really work (pray) through it, but the truth is, sometimes no matter how much we turn the other cheek, there will always be someone willing to slap that side too. Even if we’ve done everything in our power to be at peace with people, the fact is we’re not always going to please everyone.


How to deal with un-deserved rejection…

  • Be first to seek remedy, even if not reciprocated, and forgive fully.
  • Be at peace with everyone to the degree that they let you.
  • Understand people are usually fighting something bigger behind the curtains of life than they show you.
  • If they ignore you after you’ve tried to remedy affairs, just move on.
  • Don’t engage the un-reasonable; let them troll themselves out.
  • Someone else’s petty words don’t define who you are, it only defines who they are.


Getting Fired Is Rough

At other times, being rejected will be your fault…even if you feel it isn’t (however, there are edge-cases of unfair dismissal). Yes, I’ve been fired before. It sucks. But you know what? It was on me, and I learned to play that reality to my advantage…

I wasn’t pushing where I needed to push, and found myself in a position where I was becoming seriously un-interested in the success of my employer. I let it show on my sleeve.

I had lost the passion, was tired of certain situations where I probably had a point, (or at least a good reason to be upset) but because I didn’t understand how to deal with it, I became passive aggressive in my work, mood, and mentality.

As I was pulled into an office, I knew what was going on immediately. I quietly expressed my case after my manager had spoken. I wasn’t surprised, and was maybe even a little relieved. As he listened, he intently asked “Why didn’t you tell me you’ve been feeling this way?”

There I had been, trying to people-please over the last 9 months. I wanted to push through it; yet it ultimately pushed through me. Fired…Ouch.


How to deal with being fired…

  • As much as you want to be angry, listen for the “why’s” and “what’s”, and then place yourself in their position. While you might not agree in much of what’s said, listen for the truths, and take it with you to your next gig.
  • Prove your ex-employer wrong by displaying the rendered change to a new employer. Make them thankful they hired you because you’re so good (focused) on it! Own that change, and try to never make the same mistake again. “You either do it right, or do it twice” — Propaganda
  • Apologize, thank them for the opportunity (easier said than done), and try not to burn any bridges if they’ve not lit a torch; ultimately a good employer watches out for the well-being of every employee (good or bad). After being fired (and a few years down the road), I actually had feelings of wanting to thank that employer. Because of that hard lesson, adjusting my attitude / work helped to set up even bigger opportunities, with bigger companies.
  • Understand that your mistakes don’t define who you are, but where you’ve been… simply learn from them. “Though a righteous man falls down 7 times, they get up…”


In Summary

While these scenarios are not at all exhaustive on the topic of rejection within the workplace, these are simply things I’ve seen, or been through myself. In conclusion…

We have to be able to understand perspective. If you can’t place yourself in someone else’s shoes, don’t cast judgement. Know who you are, and admit when you mess up. Grow to understand, not simply react emotionally to other people’s emotions. If you get turned down for that job you applied for, seek to figure out what went wrong from their end. Don’t just write them off, seek to understand, push through, and prove them wrong for the better!

Understand that people (all of us) are broken human beings, living in a broken world. We as people are in constant communication. Rejection can oddly be a tool.

Everyone is fighting their own battle, so recognize that and move with it. Give grace more than you convey truth, and realize that you aren’t defined by your mistakes, or other people’s either for that matter.

Work hard, and humbly hustle, no matter what. You’re defined by your character, and how you react to those people, in the face of rejection.


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