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How to Handle Rejection the Right Way Even If It Hurts

So, you got rejected. No one ever wants to be, but it’s happened to all of us. That’s why you need to know how to handle rejection the right way.

how to respond to a rejection

When you’re in shock and hurt, how do you control your reaction? Well, it may take some time to learn how to handle rejection, but you can remain calm, cool, and collected.

Rejection is a tricky thing to talk about because everyone deals with it differently. It’s really hard to accept that, for whatever reason, a person chooses against you.

It sucks. You feel kind of inadequate and that can upset you greatly. Knowing how to handle rejection, however, can save you from doing something you’d otherwise regret.

This is still something people deal with every single day. If you respond negatively to that rejection, it can mean very bad things for you depending on what the rejection was for.

In the face of rejection, your emotions can take over, causing you to do or say some things you’ll later regret. But if you can take rejection with class and poise, you’ll not only feel better but also come off as both mature and respectful. [Read: Fear of rejection – 12 steps to overcome and get over it without any scars]

What is rejection? 

Rejection is when someone pushes you away. They don’t want to accept what you have to offer them, regardless of what it is. You can experience rejection from anyone – your family, friends, romantic partner, colleagues, or job opportunity.

Basically, it’s a negative reaction to you. It’s not the act of welcoming you with open arms and telling you how happy they are that you are in their lives. Instead, it’s the opposite. They want you to go away.

Rejection is experienced by all of us in both small and large ways every day. It’s just a part of life, but that doesn’t make it easy to cope with. [Read: How to get over the fear of rejection]

Why do we get rejected? 

We all like to think that we are good people who are worthy of other people’s love and attention. And that is usually true unless you are a horrible person. But most of us who are good and normal get rejected plenty of times in life.

Here are some major instances where we all experience rejection.

1. Career setback

In a nutshell, you can’t get every job or promotion that you apply for. It’s just a numbers game most of the time. Think about it.

If you apply for one job, there could be hundreds – or even thousands – of other people who applied for the same job. The odds are not in your favor, so you’ll probably get rejected. [Read: Fear of failure and why you shouldn’t be afraid to fail]

Even if there is some setback in your already established career, that doesn’t mean anything. There is office politics, back-stabbing, unethical behavior, and a lot more that can contribute to you being “rejected” along the way on your career path.

2. Breakup

If you don’t want your relationship to end but your partner does, then that is rejection. We all have probably experienced that at some point in our lives. It’s painful because it comes from someone we love, and we thought they loved us too.

Personal rejection like this is difficult to not take personally. It sends us into a tailspin, and we dwell upon why we’re “not good enough” for our partner. But you are good enough. It’s just that your partner doesn’t think you are a good match for them. [Read: 16 Lessons to recover from a breakup one day at a time and move ahead]

3. End of a friendship

Sometimes friendships just fade away over time because of life circumstances. But other times, there might be some big “friendship breakup” that occurs. Either way, it can feel like rejection if you don’t want the relationship to end.

We often think that friendships are forever, but not all of them are. And that’s okay.

People grow, change, and enter new phases of their lives. And not everyone in your life is required to or expected to move to each part of your life with you. [Read: How to deal with rejection from friends and pick yourself back up]

4. Family member cuts ties with you

This is also particularly painful because it is intensely personal. Your family is your beginning. They are there for you from the moment you are born. So, when you get rejected by a family member, it hurts a lot.

But just because you are part of the same family doesn’t mean that you are compatible as human beings. You might have a lot of differences, whether it’s personality, morals, values, or other world views.

We’ve all been rejected

Rejection is a part of life. If it isn’t a romantic rejection, it is a professional one, and learning how to handle that in the best way is an important life lesson. [Read: Top 9 reasons men get rejected by the women they want]

We have all been turned down a time or two. Maybe we were broken up with or perhaps you got a no to your first date proposal.

You could have just offered to buy someone a drink or asked for their number without a positive response. But learning how to respond to rejection like that will make you a more confident person.

How to handle rejection the right way

When it comes to being rejected, there are some things you want to do and others you definitely want to avoid. If you’re faced with rejection – which you will be at some point – you’ll need to be able to handle it with grace. 

Here’s how you can calm your inner destructive voice and deal with being rejected, no matter the situation. [Read: She rejected you but still acts interested? How to read her mind]

1. Take a deep breath first

Just relax. Getting rejected is nothing new and if you just calm down and take a deep breath, it’ll help steady your nerves. Usually, you’re either really hurt or even possibly angry after someone turns you down.

Those emotions can cloud your judgment. Taking a breath and giving yourself a minute before you respond to someone will help you a lot. 

After you’ve gathered yourself, focus on a constructed answer. Think about what you’re doing to say before you say it. Doing this will definitely avoid an angry response. [Read: How to calm down with 15 instant hacks]

2. Don’t overthink it or dwell on “why?”

In a serious situation, dwelling on why you were rejected is human nature. And although it is usually more complicated than something you did, rather the relationship as a whole, no matter how much closure you get, it will fester for a bit.

Now if someone rejected you after a first date, some flirty texts, or just wasn’t interested in talking at a bar, let that go. There could be a million and one reasons why. The majority of them probably have nothing to do with you. So don’t think you did something wrong, that you’re ugly, or the like.

And whether they provide a reason or not, if you want to know how to respond to rejection the right way, respect their decision and walk away. They don’t owe you anything. [Read: Is your negative thinking holding you back?]

Even if you are the nicest person in the world, they have the right to reject you. A rejection is not a personal attack on you. Try not to take it that way.

3. Do remember you tried

Another good way to handle rejection is to remind yourself of the effort you put in. Be proud of yourself for taking a risk and putting yourself out there. Yes, the outcome may not be what you wanted, but you gave it a go and that is something to celebrate.

Asking someone out is not easy, but you did it. You didn’t know how it would end up, but you took the risk. And now you have been rejected, but so what? Life goes on. [Read: How to bounce back and get over rejection in no time]

4. Don’t take it personally

As we said earlier, being rejected although it feels like it, is not usually about you. Often someone had a bad day, is getting out of a relationship, or even is in a relationship. And whether they told you that or not, rejection is not about you.

The pain of rejection is directly proportional to how emotionally invested you are in what you want to achieve. 

For instance, let’s say you’ve been in love with a girl for years, and you finally mustered up the guts to ask her out. The pain you felt when she said no depends on how big your expectations were. [Read: Friendzoned by a girl – 25 signs she’s just not interested in dating you]

Instead of picturing her as the enemy who denied you, think of her as a human being who’s allowed to reject what she doesn’t want.

Try to put yourself in the shoes of the person who rejected you. There must have been a good reason. She may be in love with someone else or just not be ready for a relationship.

Or she might even value your friendship so much that she can’t bear the thought of ruining it. Don’t take it too personally. Instead, try to have faith in her judgment. [Read: 6 Reasons to love yourself first before falling in love]

And here’s a non-romantic example. If you don’t get a job you applied for, it probably isn’t that you were lacking something, but that there was just someone else that was a better fit.

That does not mean you won’t get any job, just that that one wasn’t right for you. So, you move on and apply again. That is one of the best ways to handle rejection.

5. Accept that it may not be for you

This person rejected you. Accept it. If you’re wondering how to respond to rejection, do not try to convince them otherwise. Don’t try to change their mind. 

Yes, some people will come around, but unless they continue to flirt or show signs they are interested, accept that they are not interested and move on.

It may sound harsh, but sometimes a big part of responding to a rejection properly is taking a hint. [Read: 10 Most important stages of a breakup and how to get through each of them]

6. Don’t drink or wallow

Just because you’ve been rejected does not give you an excuse to have a pity party. So don’t drown your sorrows in alcohol or complain to your friends all night.

Rejection is not the end of the world. It is a passing speed bump that you have gotten over and now you don’t have to look back. [Read: How to end your pity party and move on]

7. Do learn from this

One of the top things you need to do when you handle rejection is to learn from it. Although you likely did nothing wrong, you can learn from every rejection.

Sometimes people are rejected and they don’t know why. But if you analyze your behavior, you can figure out what you are doing and how it affected other people. 

Now that’s still not saying that you’re doing anything wrong, but you can learn from what you do. If you are always getting rejected after the third date or after making a specific move, consider changing things up moving forward. [Read: 15 lessons you can learn from your own breakups and rejections]

8. Don’t let it discourage you from trying again in the future

Once you get rejected so many times, it can feel like it is time to give up. You ask yourself what the whole point of putting yourself out there is if you are only going to be let down.

But if you want a relationship, you can’t just wait for your perfect person to come along. You have to take a risk and put yourself out there. You may be scared of being rejected, but without taking that risk you won’t be able to be accepted either.

9. Do watch The Bachelor

This may seem like an odd one, but if you are worried that you don’t know how to handle rejection well, just binge a season or two of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette.

When the contestants are rejected, they react in all sorts of ways. And sometimes watching those responses is like looking in a regretful mirror. [Read: Why he chose her over you – the real reason he picked her instead]

Some men and women leave with grace, a few tears, and a kind, “I wish you all the best.” But others get angry, spew rude comments, and even refuse to say goodbye or be walked out.

Take notes. If you are cringing at how someone responds to a rejection try to avoid that behavior.

10. Do move on

One thing that comes with learning how to respond to rejection, whether it happened once or repeatedly, is expectations. You get used to a pattern and expect people to reject you. But all this does is set you up for failure. If you go in anticipating the worst, the worst will happen.

Plus, if you expect everyone you introduce yourself to, get to know, or date to reject you, you tear down your own self-confidence. [Read: 16 ways to realize you’re worth it and build your self-confidence]

11. Understand where they’re coming from

Put yourself in their shoes. Based on their reason for rejecting you, would you do the same? It’s easier to get defensive when you don’t think about where they’re coming from. If you think about the same situation but with you in the opposite position, what would you do?

This way of thinking can really help you understand the situation better. You’ll let go of some of the hostility and insecurity if you know that you’d do the same thing.

12. Be honest with yourself

Do they have a point with their rejection? Do they have a good reason for their rejection? If so, then be honest with yourself.

It’s hard to take a step back and admit that someone turning you down is right but it’ll help you deal with the rejection. [Read: 14 secrets to be honest with and respect yourself]

13. Remind yourself of your worth

Being rejected will basically bring up any insecurity you’ve ever had – especially if you fail to get some closure on the matter. One way to make sure you don’t make a fool of yourself is to just remember your worth.

Think back to anything and everything good you’ve ever done. Remember the great things others have told you, too. 

Don’t let one little rejection deprive you of confidence. Knowing your worth and being reminded of it will help you learn how to handle rejection. [Read: 5 steps to see yourself in a better life and find your self-worth]

14. Try to forget about it by staying busy

Stewing over rejection is one of the worst things you can do. You will absolutely do something stupid because it’ll just keep eating away at you. 

Instead, go do something. Stay busy. Hang out with friends and try to put the rejection completely out of your mind.

If it’s not vital to your well-being, then that rejection is nothing. It’s just a bump in a very long road. Keep your eyes on the future and just keep trucking along. [Read: 50 Crazy and impulsive things to do with friends you won’t ever forget]

15. Figure out if you’re doing anything wrong

One thing that can make rejection even harder to deal with is if it’s constant. You can’t seem to get a job or a significant other, no matter how hard you try.

If this is your problem, then take a look at yourself. What are some things these people are rejecting you because of? If there’s a single thing that seems to be the issue, try to fix that so you don’t have to be rejected anymore.

16. Process the rejection in your own way 

Everyone has different ways of processing rejection. Some just brush it off, while others choose to wallow in it for weeks on end. The best way to go about it is to just accept the rejection. [Read: How to move on and deal with a breakup with a smile]

The answer is “no,” and you need to let it go. You can cry it out if you’d like, write about it in your journal, or give yourself a day of pampering in order to feel better.

No matter how big or small the rejection you’re facing is, you’re allowed to feel sad about it. Give yourself time to feel sad. But, in the end, after you’ve done what you can to process the situation, know that you’ll eventually have to move on.

17. Ask yourself if this is where you really belong

As with above, you have to consider the reasons someone has for rejecting you. In seeking out those reasons, you may learn that what you were seeking out was not right for you, after all.

With those reasons in mind, try to imagine how the situation would play out had your proposal been accepted. [Read: What should I do with my life? 16 steps to design your ideal life]

For instance, let’s say you got turned down for a date with a coworker. She said that she was not comfortable dating someone from the office. 

You may then realize that she has a point: hiding from your boss and dealing with office gossip could put a strain on your potential relationship, thus setting yourself up for pain and an unfortunate end. You can then realize that maybe it’s a good thing you were rejected.

18. Recall how you handled rejection in the past

This will only apply to those who have been in a similar situation before. Try to think of how you felt and what you did the last time you got turned down.

How did it work out for you? Do you think you can take those steps again? [Read: 11 Honest secrets to let go of the past, be happy, and look to the future]

When you look back at what you were able to do in order to handle rejection, you might find a couple of useful techniques for dealing with it the next time it happens. 

You will also realize that you’ve been in this situation before, and you came out of it okay. After all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Take in their advice and see if you can apply it. Who knows? You might find that the way other people handle rejection works better than the way you handle it. [Read: 8 types of friends everyone needs in their life]

19. Focus on the things you can control

Now, let’s talk about giving things another try. Your second try may not be entirely similar to your first, but even then, you must know that there’s a possibility that you’ll be rejected again. 

In this case, you can divide the aspects of the situation into two categories: things you can control and things you can’t.

You can’t control how someone reacts to your proposition, so don’t dabble in voodoo mind tricks to change that. What you can control are the things you say, the way you say them, your timing, your appearance, and where you’ll make your proposition. [Read: How to change your life – 12 easy steps for a dramatic life makeover]

We’re not saying you should be completely anal about these things when you’re ready to take a leap, but at least you know where you can modify the variables to increase your odds of being accepted.

20. Surround yourself with supportive people 

They’re the best people to go to when you’ve been rejected. That’s because they know your best qualities. They’ll be there to tell build your confidence back up and you’ll feel a lot better.

It’s good to know that there are people who will always accept you, even if someone just rejected you. Go to these people and take in all of their positive vibes. [Read: Insecure attachment – what it is, types, 23 signs, and how it affects your life]

These people can help remind you that you’re a great person who deserves great things in life. So, what if someone doesn’t like you the same way? There’s bound to be someone out there who will!

In addition to making you feel better, they can also provide stories of how they were able to handle rejection. They may have faced even worse situations that they were able to get out of unscathed. 

The next time you’re rejected, keep your mouth shut and calmly go see some friends. They’ll help you get through that troubled time and come out stronger. Sometimes we need our friends to help us see the right way to deal with stuff. [Read: How to be and spot a good friend]

21. Look forward to better opportunities

Let’s say that you didn’t get a job you really wanted. That’s okay. It just means that it wasn’t meant for you. There is a better job out there waiting for you, and you just need to go find it.

If you were rejected by a romantic partner, then they also weren’t meant for you. It might feel like they were, but why would you want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you? That’s lunacy. Instead, now you have the opportunity to go find someone who does want to be with you and is a much better match.

22. Take time to heal

Rejection ranges from small ones to huge ones. A small one might be someone not wanting to go on a second date with you. A large one is if your spouse of 30 years wants a divorce or your mother rejects you. [Read: How to get over an ex – 17 steps to heal ASAP in the healthiest way]

Both small and large rejections hurt, but the large ones take a lot longer time to heal. So, don’t expect to feel better overnight. Getting over rejection is a process, and sometimes it’s a long one. So, have patience with yourself and take all the time you need to fully heal.

23. Use rejection as a motivation

When learning how to handle rejection, t’s easy to let rejection get you down and stuck where you are. If you wallow in your sadness and misery, then you will never move forward with life. Instead, you will be stagnant and nothing will change. In fact, it will only get worse.

So, use that rejection as a motivation to go forward and find something better so you can be truly happy. You might have thought you couldn’t live without whoever or whatever rejected you.

But you might find that you are actually a lot happier without them. Let your rejection catapult you to a better life. [Read: The best inspirational movies for when your motivation lags]

24. Pay attention to your inner critic

When we think of rejection, we think in terms of us “not being good enough.” But that is not true. Think about it. There are so many people who got rejected by their romantic partners because they didn’t think they were “good enough.” 

But then, they do find someone who thinks they are the best thing that ever happened to them. In other words, everything is subjective. Just because one person doesn’t want to be with you doesn’t mean another person wouldn’t feel like the luckiest person in the world to have you in their life.

25. Don’t look back with rose-colored glasses

It’s always easiest to remember the good times. Our minds are strange because they automatically just go back to that after rejection.

It could be your subconscious mind’s way of coping, but it doesn’t mean that it is healthy. [Read: 42 Red flags and signs it’s time to end your relationship and move on for good]

Instead, think about all the reasons why it’s a good thing that you got rejected. Think about all the things that annoyed you about the person who rejected you. Or why that job might not have been the best fit after all.

26. Just remember that rejection is normal and it’s a part of life

It’s normal for people to get rejected. It happens every day, and you can’t really get away from it. Every single person out there has been rejected in some way or another. It’s a part of life. 

If you got super upset every single time you were rejected and lashed out because you were mad about it, you’d be pretty miserable all the time. It happens. Just move on. [Read: How to beat the debilitating fear of rejection]

27. Realize that rejection can push you to become better

Every time you get rejected, you may dwell on the fact that the person who rejected you thinks you’re not good enough.

But when you read between the lines, you can see that this just means you still have room for improvement. The reason you got rejected is your clue as to what you can do to avoid rejection in the future.

The sting of being turned down is something that takes a while to wear off. But that sting will be a constant reminder of what you can do to become better.

For example, you can say to yourself, “I know it hurts to be turned down because I don’t pay attention to my appearance. I’ll remember this pain every time I’m not feeling motivated enough to put effort into the way I look.” 

You may think this is akin to dwelling on the past, but as long as it helps you move forward, it’s worth a shot. [Read: How to banish negativity with positive self-talk]

How a negative reaction to rejection could be the worst thing you do

People are always watching you. As creepy as that sounds, it’s meant in the sense that if you lash out, people will take notice and remember it. They’ll be aware of how you react to upsetting situations and this can impact you negatively in a lot of ways.

If it’s at your work, you’ll be less likely to get promotions and people will be wary of you. If it’s after you asked a person on a date, others will try to avoid going on a date with you because you’ll seem crazy. Knowing how to handle rejection with class can save you in these instances.

How to respond to a rejection 

Now that you know how to handle rejection via your inner self, we also need to talk about how to handle it in the outer world. You can have all thoughts in your head that you want, but your actions matter too. [Read: How to bounce back after being rejected]

Here’s how to respond to rejection in a positive way.

1. Don’t be passive aggressive

It is human nature to avoid confrontation. So, when you are rejected but upset about it, instead of blatantly confronting the person as to why you are passive-aggressive. And the thing about this behavior is that you are not always aware that you’re doing it.

Whoever you asked out if they reject you your behavior might change. Perhaps you are less likely to do a favor for that coworker, give a big tip, or you may even avoid eye contact. You may be polite and cordial in plain sight, but that underhanded rudeness will fester.

Just because you didn’t get the outcome you were hoping for doesn’t give you the right to be rude, even in a minor or subtle way. [Read: How to stop being passive aggressive and get out of the toxic state]

2. Do be respectful

If someone rejects a date, a marriage proposal, or even refuses to give you their number, no matter the situation, be respectful. Of course, if this is a request for a first date being respectful should be easy. Say “oh, okay no problem,” and walk away.

But if you are rejected after having a serious connection, you probably want answers and reasons. You deserve them. 

3. Try to get the facts

Ask the person why. Get some answers. Rejection can often be very hard to deal with simply because you don’t know why someone is refusing you something.

If you actually ask and try to get the facts as to why you got rejected, you might be able to handle it a little better. [Read: This is how to be classy in different situations]

If you’re rejected for a job, as the recruiter why? Ask what you did to turn them off of you. Usually, they’ll be pretty honest. This can help you better understand it and you’ll also be able to change that very thing for the next time. In other words, you won’t have to deal with that again if you made a big mistake.

But there is a way to get those answers while being respectful. Even if you are furious, take a breath, calm down, and talk. You can cry and scream later when you are alone.

4. Don’t be rude

This is never a good way to handle rejection. You never know when you will cross paths with someone in the future. Ending things on a positive or at least polite note is always best. Not to mention, it leaves you feeling like the air is clear and no one harbors bad feelings. [Read: Simple ways to avoid being rude in any situation]

Being rude to someone because of their feelings is not fair. And although you may feel like the victim, rudeness in response to rejection only proves to them that they made the right decision. 

How someone reacts to a rejection says a lot about who they are. And if you are nasty in response, it shows you cannot handle the harder parts of life.

5. Don’t insult them

Not only should you avoid being rude to the person who rejected you, but you should also not insult them.

When you get rejected, your first instinct is to get defensive. You feel like they attacked you, so you want to attack back to make yourself feel better. [Read: How to be nice – 20 easy tips to make everyone love being around you]

But it won’t make you feel better in the long run. It will damage your self-esteem once you realize what a terrible thing that was to do.

And it won’t make the other person feel any better either. Do you really want to inflict pain on someone else? Well, you shouldn’t. So don’t do it. It’s an awful way to handle rejection.

6. Remain calm and mature

When we are upset and emotional, it’s difficult to remain calm and mature. But you have to try. If you don’t think you’re going to handle it that way at the moment, then remove yourself from the situation to calm down and put things into perspective.

After you have some time to reflect, then you can collect your thoughts and respond in a healthy and mature manner. You don’t want to look like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum.

That is not a good look on anyone. So, remain an adult and handle it the right way. [Read: How to calm your nerves in any situation you’re walking into]

7. Don’t be petty

You don’t want to overly focus on trivial matters. For example, we just said that you shouldn’t insult the person. But if you do, you might resort to being petty and saying something stupid. 

You might point out how they leave their socks on the floor all the time. Or that they don’t immediately put their dishes in the dishwasher. But this nit-picking over seemingly insignificant things won’t help the situation. And it won’t make you feel better, regardless of what you think.

8. Don’t plot for revenge

Plotting revenge is about the most immature and unproductive things you can do and is the worst way to handle rejection. Let’s say someone cheated on you.

That’s a horrible thing to do. And you might take it personally and think that they are rejecting you. [Read: He cheated on you? How to get over a guy without seeking revenge]

As a result, you might want to go out and cheat on them for revenge. But two wrongs don’t make a right. You should take the high road and be the bigger person. Ignore them and move on with your life. As they say, the best revenge is happiness and life well lived.

9. Thank them for the opportunity 

If we don’t go through challenging times in our lives, then we will never grow as a person. No one wants to go through these things, but it’s inevitable. And you can let it make you bitter or make you better.

So, thank the person who rejected you because they gave you the opportunity to become a better person. Use the rejection to love yourself more and understand what you really need out of life. It might not seem like it now, but it’s a precious gift. [Read: How to show your appreciation to someone and express your gratitude]

Final thoughts

In the end, you need to be able to move on from getting rejected. Yes, it’s easier said than done. But what is the alternative? Would you rather be stuck in your misery for the rest of your life, or would you rather move forward and create a happier life? The choice is yours.

[Read: How to build your self-esteem and love life with 10 simple life changes]

If you want to know how to handle rejection, you take it with a grain of salt. Being rejected isn’t the end of the world. Know that being rejected is not a knock on you. Respond with respect. Remember there is someone out there that will not reject you.

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Samantha Ann
My name is Samantha Ann. I am 28 years old. It was always my dream to become an advice columnist, so after years of off and online dating and eventually finding...