How to Show Grace in the Face of Rejection

What do you do when you’ve run out of persuasion options? Welcome to the NFL.

Let’s face it: Over the course of your career, you’re going to get rejected more than once. If you’re not hearing “no” at least some of the time, you’re probably not stretching yourself enough. That said, how should you respond in that moment of rejection?

  • Don’t get angry. That will just further push away your target.
  • Do show disappointment. No need to wear a tough poker face after the proposal you spent so much time and energy on gets turned down. As a matter of fact, if you don’t appear a little disappointed, your target could think your pitch wasn’t all that important to you.
  • Do remain respectful. How? By using power language: “Well, of course I’m disappointed. But I’d like to thank you for giving the idea such careful consideration.”

In the 1968 movie The Lion in Winter — set in in England in 1183 — King Henry II has imprisoned his conniving sons, Princes Geoffrey and Richard, in the wine cellar. When they think they hear their father coming down the stairs to kill them, this exchange occurs:

Prince Richard: He’ll get no satisfaction out of me. He isn’t going to see me beg.

Prince Geoffrey: My, you chivalric fool — as if the way one fell down mattered.

Prince Richard: When the fall is all that is, it matters.

Show grace in the face of rejection.

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