by Kelvin Belfon
Thank you for your interest… After reviewing your application, we regret to inform you…
Have you ever received a letter containing those dreadful words?
Well, I have, multiple times. They don’t ever seem to go away and last week after I retrieved my mail, I was reminded of the empty feeling those words leave. It cuts like a dagger to know that something you so anticipated would be a reality, something you had already began to mentally arrange life to accommodate, would not be after all.
There’s a certain natural progression that takes place within the first paragraph of these kinds of letters. First, emotionlessness, then disappointment, then discouragement, and sometimes even depression. Somehow, I’m even programmed to stop reading once my eyes glances those awful trigger words.
Do you know what I mean?
We regret to inform you….
Over the years I’ve discovered that my response to these letters and rejection in general has changed. I no longer feel inferior or emotional after reading those words.
You see, we all desire acceptance. It’s a basic human need. So rejection is never easy to concede no matter how many times we’ve been declined. Some gut reaction to rejection is to be expected. The secret lies in controlling that response. It’s the only way to help make swallowing the pill much more bearable.
How to Respond to Rejection
The first rejection isn’t the final answer. A denial doesn’t mean a closed door. Try again. Write another letter. Make an appeal. Make a phone call. Try somewhere else. Speak with another person, if necessary to a manager. Be persistent, creative, and tenacious. Ask questions and find another way to make things happen. Elbert Hubbard said, “A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.”
Use the rejection as an opportunity to improve. When someone says no, if possible, find out the specifics of why. Then use the feedback to learn, grow and become better. When I was 21, an online professor said he couldn’t read my handwriting for an assignment. The note was a blow to my ego. But after my pity-party, I did something about it. You see, as I went through school in my country, typing classes weren’t offered. So, I bought a “Learn to Type” program at the local office supply store and got to work on it. I learned and the rest is history.
Don’t take the rejection personal. There are multiple reasons why a position is not offered to you. Some companies have their “man” already lined up before the job posting. There could be too many qualified applicants in the pool for the same position. Whatever the reason, the decision may have nothing to do with your personality, intellect or skills. Everyone is not out to sabotage you. Be kind to yourself and avoid an unhealthy self-judgment or criticism. Clear your mind from feelings of unworthiness and move on.
The rejection is their loss, not yours. Resumes, applications and even interviews don’t always capture a person’s true potentials. Even more, committees sometimes have so many applications to comb through that they end up streamlining their review to a few keywords that they’ve decided tells them whether the candidate they are looking for is you or not. This process is loaded with all kinds of opportunities for error because great applicants are sometimes ruled out without their awareness of it. You live with yourself and know the benefits you can bring an organization or relationship. If you are qualified but have recently received the “we regret to inform you” letter…it’s ok. It’s their loss, not yours.
Use the rejection as motivation to start your own. A “no” might be the exact word you need to hear. If you are passionate about your idea, maybe it’s time to launch your own business. You may need to have a few conversations with key people who know of important connections you need to make or critical facts you need in order to get going. Many people have used “rejection” as an opportunity to build their dreams. Why not you? Why not now?
Rejection could mean not now but later. There were times when I thought, “ Kelvin, you’re ready.” But I was young and naïve. In hindsight the rejection letters only protected me. The right timing is everything. In my last semester of college, I applied to continue my education in Israel. The request wasn’t approved and I concluded that the door to Israel was forever closed. It’s been a 13-year wait till now. In just a few days, a work colleague and I will be leading a group close to 100 people on a Holy Land Tour. As I ponder what has transpired over the years since that first rejection, going to Israel is so much more meaningful now.
Be grateful for the rejection. Yes, I know it sounds crazy but a rejection might be a blessing in disguise. Some relationships, work environments or ventures are toxic and hold the potential of sucking you dry. A month ago, I was coaching a young man who was miserable in his job. The turn over in his department was outrageous. When I got off the phone, I remembered how the same position was offered to me 3 years ago. All I could think to myself was, “Yes, I’ve dodged another bullet.” Oh, if we all had a crystal ball we would be writing more thank you notes to those people or committees that reject us instead of questioning our self-worth!
It would be great to hear similar stories from you. Have you experienced rejection that ended up being a blessing in disguise?