I recently received some negative feedback about something I said in a presentation. I was disappointed because the feedback contradicted what I heard from multiple other participants.
In these types of situations, we have a few choices. We can:
- Disregard those foolish enough to dare say anything we perceive as negative.
- Take the feedback into account and aim to do better.
- Continue to beat ourselves up, stay stuck and never get over it.
The most difficult part of rejection is that it can feel so personally offensive. But rejection is inevitable—it happens to everybody, regardless of experience level or industry. That means the first step in embracing rejection is taking the emotions out of it. If we can shift our thoughts about rejection and begin viewing it as a way to understand outside perspectives, the result is a better self.
None of us wants to go out into the world, take risks and give our 100% effort just to get shot down. It’s never easy to hear we didn’t get the account, we offended someone at the office or our carrier partner doesn’t like our submissions. But these are moments that enable us to look back on how we communicated and how we could have handled things differently.
Of course, we’re all humans—sometimes the person rejecting you or providing criticism is simply having a bad day, or they may harbor other biases that cause them to communicate negatively. But ultimately, rejection is an opportunity to self-reflect and consider if you can better yourself, either personally or professionally (or both!).
I often talk about the phrase “committed to create”—it’s a mantra that helps me every time I engage in a phone call or leaderboard discussion, or speak out with another person or in a group setting. I ask myself: “What is the experience or emotion I wish to evoke in the other party?”
Keeping this in mind and using only one-word answers helps keep me focused on what I’m really there to communicate and accomplish. It keeps me focused on how I can better get my message across and be mindful of my audience and their needs—and it helps me evaluate results after. Basically, it’s like my insurance for rejection.
By being open to criticism, I’ve learned to become a better listener, a better friend and a better leader. If you’re clear about what you’re committed to create, you’ll make things happen that will help you achieve what you say you wish to accomplish—and look at “rejection” with a whole new lens.
Brandie Hinen is CEO of Powerhouse Learning.