10 Ways to Cope With Social Rejection at Work

Learn how to develop a positive attitude toward rejection

group of employees

Anyone who has lived through high school knows the pain of being rejected socially. Those feelings do not change much as an adult. The same hurt feelings bubble up when you are excluded from lunch with co-workers, when you fail to get that promotion or when you are not included in after-hours parties and get-togethers with your co-workers.

It doesn’t matter how old you are. Rejection is not fun. However, some people noticeably handle rejection better than others.

Those who handle rejection better typically have a healthy attitude toward it. Here are 10 positive attitudes that will help you cope with social rejection more effectively.

1. When someone doesn’t want to hang out or talk to you at a workplace event, the healthy person does not view this as being rejected or ostracized. There could be any number of reasons why the person wasn’t very talkative that have nothing to do with you. These include being distracted, having a bad day, dealing with a personal issue, feeling tired or sick, or any number of reasons. Do not automatically assume there is something wrong with you or to take it personally.

2. When someone actually rejects you, the healthy person realizes that she cannot be a good match for everyone and moves on. Do not try to change yourself in order to be accepted.

3. Healthy people realize that rejection is just a part of the process of developing friendships.

Instead of being upset focus on your goals rather than worrying how any one interaction plays out.

4. Healthy people recognize that everyone gets rejected at times including self-assured people that seem to have it all together. Avoid assuming there is something wrong with you or wallowing in victim-thinking.

Neither approach is healthy or productive.

5. Healthy people realize that trying to avoid rejection would require them to become people-pleasers, which is unhealthy and opens them up to workplace bullying. Focus on being authentic and true to who you are. You will find people who appreciate you for you.

6. When healthy people are rejected, they view it as a way to screen out people who would not be a good match for them any way. View getting rejected as a favor. You have been given a clear message that you should put your energy into something or someone else.

7. Some rejections are a good thing. For example, if a racist rejects you because you are not like him, consider that a good thing and move on. There is no need to give that rejection any more thought.

8. Healthy people see rejection as a way to gain feedback. View it as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and do not engage in self-blame when you are rejected.

9. Recognize threat getting rejected does cause hurt feelings and sometimes even anger.

Accept that these feelings are normal but do not let them dominate your mood. Remember, you have a choice in how you will respond to social rejection. You can choose to be happy and grateful for the friends you have or you can stress about this one interaction.

10. Healthy people enlarge their social circle and do not rely on the workplace as the only source of friendship. Look for opportunities to meet people with similar interests. Consider service organizations, religious groups and other activities where you can meet people.

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