Mentorship Support for Entrepreneurs

How to Deal with Criticism or Rejection

What is rejection?

Rejection is the dismissing or refusing of a proposal, idea, or concept.

There are many ways to learn to deal with rejection. These include psychological tools and techniques that involve reflecting on our past, enhancing our self-understanding, and strengthening our sense of self in order to feel more self-possessed and strong in coping with a current struggle and facing the future. Here we highlight some powerful personal strategies for how to deal with rejection.

How can you deal with rejection?

Dealing with rejection is important. Sometimes, anticipating failure or rejection, might prevent you from taking action, like asking someone to be your mentor, taking risks or generally asking for help.

  1. Analyze your first thought about why someone might reject you. For example, why would someone refuse your invitation to be interviewed?

  2. Prepare for “no”. Write down some positive ways to respond to or deal with the reasons for a “no”

Evaluate how rational your thinking and behavior is. Ask yourself,

  1. Is your thought about someone saying “No” based on fact?

  2. Does your thinking help you achieve your goals?

  3. Does your thinking help you feel the way I want to feel?

If you have 3 “yes” answers, then that means that your thoughts are rational and you should keep them.

If you have 1 or more “no” answers, then this suggests that your thoughts may be irrational and you should consider reframing the rejection. Try to reframe the rejection, so that it does not feel like a negative reflection on you personally and so that you can still build or maintain the relationship. What could you say to yourself that would be more accurate, positive, and helpful?

Manage your reaction after being rejected

  1. Evaluate how you would feel, you may have negative feelings about yourself or this person.

  2. Evaluate how these thoughts and feelings might affect your behavior.

  3. Remind yourself that it is temporary and you may be even thankful for this experience in the future.

  4. Engage in physical activities, they will force you to concentrate outside of yourself and live in the moment.

  5. If going through this difficult period alone is too much to bear, counseling or psychotherapy is a good way to help yourself deal with your emotions.

Rejection from a potential mentor

If you send an email to a potential mentor and never heard back or they said they were unavailable, you should reach out to them again to express gratitude and ensure the relationship is not damaged.

  1. Express understanding of their inability to meet you

  2. Express appreciation, for taking the time to talk or for responding

  3. Ask for recommendations, for other people you could meet with or for whatever the context was

  4. Ask for an introduction, for the person they are recommending

  5. Ask if you could use his or her name, to contact the referred person or to quote them

  6. Express gratitude for their time

Why is dealing with rejection important?

Rejection is an almost unavoidable aspect of being human. No one has ever succeeded in life without first facing rejection. We all experience it, and yet, those times when we do are often the times we feel the most alone, outcast, and unwanted. Studies even show that our reaction to rejection is also based on elements and events from our past and as a result we react to rejection equally or even more significant than the rejection itself. This is why learning how to deal with rejection is so important!

Pro Tip

Used respectfully, a little lighthearted humor can quickly turn negative feelings of rejection into an opportunity for humor.