The client just called. He is not going to renew.
At a tech conference, your boss tells everyone in a group you are not pulling your weight.
You come back to your desk to find a pink slip.
Not good, right? And yet, when you receive bad news, the test of your confidence is really all about your reaction. Getting angry and even verbally abusive reveals a lack of confidence in yourself. It's a form of control. When you know how to resolve a problem, when you know the facts are wrong, or even when you accept the blame and admit your faults, the right reaction is to use that bad news as a springboard. Here's how:
1. Don't take it sitting down
It's never a good idea to fly off the handle when you hear bad news at work. But it is OK to defend yourself when the facts are wrong. Do it in a calm manner, because that's what confident people do. They don't just sit and take it, they present a clear counterargument. In conflicts over the years that have resulted from some bad news, I've tried to just stick to the facts. They tend to win out over time, despite any false motives or when someone just doesn't like you.
2. Jump into action
While you are standing and not sitting down, go ahead and do something. It has an amazing effect on your attitude. One of the worst days of my life was when I was ousted from a corporate job. I drove home that night and my wife came up with the idea of being a writer. I jumped into action. I'm not saying I was all that confident at the time, but it was a lesson for me. I pounded the pavement for weeks and months. I reacted with action. It's a good thing, because I've been writing ever since.
3. Ignore half-truths
Confidence is like a Teflon-coating that wards off half-baked attacks on your character and on your skill level. You know you have proven experience, so when there's some made-up stories about your work performance or a social-media attack, you brush it off because you know the real story. One tip here is that it's OK to focus on the part of the half-truth that's true. Maybe you do need to get a little better at attending meetings. Maybe you need to brush up on your writing skills. Fine. Focus on what you can do to change and don't try to control the outcome that results from what someone made up about you. (By the way, this is why I typically ignore hypercritical comments on social media. Usually, the person has an agenda or doesn't have the whole story.)
4. Flip the bad news into good news
Confident people are experts at turning bad news into good news. How does losing a major contract free you up to explore other ideas? When a friend at works says you've been a jerk, learn from it. How does a busted relationship like that help you learn to get along with people better? How can you do better? The one main differentiator between confident people and people who are just proud but trying to hide a lack of skill is that the confident ones embrace their failures and learn from them. Proud people just keep acting proud and hope no one will notice the failure.
5. Stay happy
I love the image up above. It is a good way to live life, isn't it? Jump on a scooter and just go sailing down the road when you hear bad news at work. Realize that there is a time to grieve when you receive bad news in life, and it's OK to be sad, but work is work. Don't put 100 percent of your confidence in what you do. Put it in who you are.