How I grew to accept rejection in business

Rejection is a natural part of life but many avoid it at all costs. Unfortunately, rejection is a very strong reality in business. Today, I want to help you understand this aspect of the business — not necessarily to provide you with answers so much as to ensure you don’t get hurt (too much) or take it too personally.

My clients are mostly other businesses. We tend to become an embedded team within their business. So I’ve faced rejection from both perspectives – as an external consultant and an internal stakeholder. My experiences may resonate with anyone trying to implement a new project, perhaps for the first time.

Human beings (myself included) are only comfortable with what they understand or have done before. As a strategist, I usually come in with a long list of potential changes to processes, structure and strategy. I know it can be threatening and I’ve had all kinds of reactions. When people don’t understand, they get confused. When they are confused, they can get angry.

My biggest piece of advice is to always mind the three Cs: communication, communication, communication. You have to over communicate and repeat yourself if necessary to make certain everyone involved understands what you want to achieve and why.

At first, it felt strange because I felt like I was belittling people or boring them to death whenever I repeated myself. But people need reassurance. In this sense, 50% of marketing is about educating your colleagues and key stakeholders.

Anyone who changes how things are done or implements any kind of new initiative will always encounter opposition, particularly at the start. I had to let go of wanting to be liked by everyone. You have to be willing to be the “scapegoat” behind the tough decisions within your business.

Everyone’s a critic

In running a business, I liken myself to a gourmet chef. There is a degree of quality, attention to details, and love that goes into my work every day. But my food will not suit everyone’s tastes. I am bound to upset someone sooner or later and get a tough review.

This is a fact I have learnt to accept. I’d never want to be so hardened that I can’t see genuinely useful pieces of feedback and miss opportunities to grow! That’s the definition of arrogance.

I sometimes look at people at the top of great Australian businesses and wonder how they’ve coped with the pressure and the negative criticisms. Let’s face it, criticism hurts.

What about you? How do you cope with rejections in business? I’d love to hear your stories