Much like developing resilience in the face of failure, handling rejection is also like a muscle that must be developed and exercised. Not experiencing rejection and the everyone gets a trophy mentality has resulted in many Millennials (unknowingly) avoiding short term pain for the guarantee of 10 times the long term pain.
Tim Ferriss, New York Times Bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek, was rejected 27 times by publishers before his book was picked up. The book eventually hit the New York Times Best Seller list. Ferris believes he persevered in the face of rejection because of "informed confidence."
He had informed confidence because he had evidence that the content in the book worked. He had been speaking to audiences about the book content for years and had received an overwhelmingly positive response from audiences.
The best way to develop informed confidence is to test your plans, products, or ideas. Encourage Millennials to subject their ideas to the messy reality of everyday life (via a survey, blog, focus group, etc.) to see what feedback or response they will receive. Help them to use any rejection as an opportunity to learn how to adapt the plan, product, or idea.
Ways to Deal with Rejection
- Seek minor rejection. Encourage Millennials to visit the local state fair or flea market and try to buy goods for half off the listed price. Or next time at Starbucks, have them ask for a 10 percent discount. In both situations, they are likely to receive immediate but minor rejection and will live to tell about it.
- Limit extremes. It's easy for Millennials who experience rejection for the first time in the workplace to allow their imagination to get the best of them. They'll project extreme situations that are highly unlikely but intensify the rejection. Coach them through the likely ramifications and help them to become less-emotionally over reactive when faced with rejection.
- Depersonalize it. Realize that most rejection is not personal. People can reject others simply because they are hungry, tired, distracted, or having a bad day.
1 Exercise Millennials Can Do to Overcome Fear
The natural human reaction to failure and rejection is fear. If fear is limiting your Millennial team, this "fear setting" exercise can help to release Millennials from paralysis.
- On an 8 x 11 piece of paper, draw two vertical lines to divide it into three columns.
- At the top of the paper, write down one thing that you are anxious about, feel risky about, or are putting off.
- In the left-hand column, write down a bullet list of everything that could go wrong in a worst-case scenario. Be specific.
- In the middle column, write down a bullet list of what you can do to minimize the likelihood of the worst-case items happening. Be specific.
- In the right-hand column, write down what you can do to get back to where you are if the worst-case scenario happens.
When you put your fear, problem, or risk under a magnifying glass you tend to realize that the worst case outcome is very unlikely and/or very manageable. This simple exercise helps to put fear into perspective and can help Millennials overcome fear and face failure successfully.
(This is 1 of the 47 strategies Ryan shares in his new book, The Millennial Manual: The Complete How-To Guide to Manage, Develop, and Engage Millennials at Work.)