Learn to Accept Rejection

I’ve been sitting on this blog post for a few days to make sure that I have a clear head about it before I hit the “Publish” button because it has the chance to offend more than just a few people.

But I woke up this morning feeling good about it and after a few moments of reflection remembered that what I’m sharing is simply a part of life – rejection happens, get used to it.

The problem is that the internet and online culture can challenge our socially accepted norms of personal engagement – in fact, it has lowered the barrier of entry to start a conversation with others and many people have forgotten their manners as a result.

I have long-kept my direct email address public as well as have kept an “open door” policy to the entire internet at large – you can email me, send me a message via Facebook, and do anything you really like on Twitter to engage me directly. I promise to read everything but I don’t often have time to respond to everyone.

The vast majority of people know how to take this rejection just fine – they understand how busy I am and the responsibilities I have to my family first, my partners second, and then the internet last. Although those who have engaged with me know that I’m pretty darn available and I respond to nearly everything, even if it’s just a “one line” response.

I pride myself on my ability to manage this well (I’m not perfect, mind you) and the “brand” that I’ve created around my ability to be open and accessible. But there are some people who need a serious kick in the pants and who need to learn very quickly how to accept rejection, especially, especially, if you’re soliciting me for something.

I had a gentleman via Facebook send me the following message which I’ve captured for your reading and context – I have removed his information but I personally hope that person reads this and takes this as an opportunity to learn a very important lesson:

As you have read there are a couple glaring issues that I need to call out and some suggestions for improvement:

  1. He started off great, asking me if this was the “real” account. Unfortunately, if he had done some research and really knew what I was about he would never have asked this. I have repeated time and time again that I don’t hire anyone to manage my accounts – I do that all myself.
  2. In addition, never seek to waste someone’s time with back and forth engagement. Just ask the darn question in the same first initial contact. Be brief, be concise, and be explicit. Don’t be long-winded. We all have stuff to do.
  3. If you’re soliciting, that’s fine, but you need to know what that person is really about. If this person had done his research he would have known that I have never accepted a paid link on my blog. In fact, I find this completely out of line with best practices! I also can get in trouble.
  4. Next, I responded that I wasn’t interested. I wasn’t a jerk about it, I just said that I wasn’t interested. If I was interested I would have suggested another price – this is where things started to go down hill.
  5. His next response about how I essentially missed a “lifetime opportunity” is ridiculous. I’d like to rant here but I won’t.
  6. It continues to get worse now saying that I’ve wasted his time. I couldn’t believe it. I’ll admit that my final message here was probably not necessary but I felt compelled, at the moment, to say something. I wasn’t sure if it would do any good but I responded anyway.

I thought that would be the end of it but he gave me one last response which really set the stage for this blog post:

I had nothing to say and closed the conversation, never to return to it. In fact, as a fallout, I have put this person on my personal “ignore” list so I can maintain my boundaries and keep focused on what’s more important. It’s unfortunate that this person has lost the opportunity to do business with me but he’s most likely not that concerned.

We all need a few good reminders now and then to make sure that we’re engaging fairly and justly with others – that we’re providing common courtesy to those that want to use our valuable time. But the great lesson here for all of us (including myself) is to learn to handle and accept rejection and to not take it so personally.

This is a part of life – this is what life is about! You don’t quit or stop because one person said “No” and you shouldn’t base your entire self-worth or value on just one single point of contact. Just move on, get with it, and accept it.

I’m not a fan of doing things like this but I hope it serves as a simple reminder to provide value to others, be courteous, and be respectful of other people’s time – it’s their most valuable asset and most limited resource! Don’t waste it!

[Image via Creative Commons, dawolf.]

  • http://www.tillhecomes.org Jeremy Myers

    Thick skin and perseverance in the face of adversity are two of the necessary elements to making it in blogging (and in life in general). Patience helps too…

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      patience helps for sure. i have only a little of that…

  • http://www.witharmshigh.com Eric Ryan Jones

    I think something else, beside rejection, is that people have to get used to the idea that just because you ASK etc doesn’t mean you will GET. Early on in the internet we could get just about anything we wanted. I used to start “review” websites all the time just to get free stuff. Shady on some levels but i did offer solid reviews of the products etc, even if my motivations were somewhat selfish.

    Nowadays though i have a different expectation. I don’t expect anyone to GIVE me anything. I do expect to WORK for everything. Meaning that if i wanted to post a link on johns blog for a product i’d WORK to find out what’s acceptable. Which is pretty easy to find, i’d buy an AD. Even then i wouldn’t accept MY ad to be approved because i know the value john places on the people, products and services he promotes.

    Johns brand is straight forward and simple. Spend a few hours on his blog, his other properties and his social network and you’ll see very quickly that he’s consistent. I’ve had the fortunate blessing of having many interactions with john over many years and i’ve learned some powerful things each and every time. The one thing i value the most about him though is that he’s short and to the point.

    Rejection is a chance to grow because every NO is one step closer to a YES.

    • http://dustn.tv Dustin

      Ah, the good ol’ entitlement mentality. I think this is a disease that our culture has. Very well put Eric! And I love the closing line!

  • Eric Dye

    Great stuff.

  • http://freshroastcreative.tumblr.com/ Brian Notess

    Hopefully it’s an encouragement that I’ve always been blown away how accessible and personal you’ve been to me. From the first ChurchCreate post I submitted (I was sure I’d never hear back) to you listening/advising me through career crises (plural).

    You don’t owe me anything and I’m sure I was understandably low on your list of relational priorities, but you still made time to connect on some level. And I’m just some guy you met on the internet.

    I’m sure that kind of accessibility takes its toll, eventually. Kudos to you for trying to have a relationship with the entire Internets.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      thanks brian! how are you doing, btw?

      • http://freshroastcreative.tumblr.com/ Brian Notess

        Kind of a personal question for the blog comments. Maybe we can chat on skype sometime. :-)

  • http://boldanddetermined.com Victor Pride

    I liken rejection to trying to lift a certain weight at the gym. At first, you just can’t get the weight. You try and try but the weight says no. And then one day you are fired up and the weight seemingly lifts itself. It’s like you finally found the perfect combination of weights that wanted to be lifted by you. After you get over that hump the weight is always easy to lift.

    In re: the internet marketer. What can you expect? Internet marketers want to take, take, take but they do not want to give. They don’t want to provide value, they want to extract what they can. This mindset will attract the types who have an easy, peasy get rich quick mindset. When a tiny little obstacle gets in the way, it’s quittin’ time. If you have no passion and fire for your business you will only attract other people who have no passion or fire.


    • http://john.do John Saddington


      i love the idea of weight lifting!

  • http://advertisinginconstruction.com Paul Barstow

    Thats brilliant John, I am a salesman and that is the most mindless and infuriating sales pitch I have seen. It actually quite annoys me as I have been selling for 15 years and I consider myself a professional salesman. This is not the way to do it at all he needs to go back to school nad learn the basics (polite accepting, listening after all we have two ears and one mouth for a reason).

    Well done on promoting this I agree the interpersonal relationships people have with one another are very different on the web than in real life. This is an important thing to remember as conversations online are different from real face to face conversations. However even my 7 year old knew that this was not the way to act when she read the transcript above.

    Good Blog

    • http://john.do John Saddington


      ah. yes. my 5 year old acts better than this.

  • http://brettbarker.info Brett

    Great post. I admire you for being so personal to strangers. Even more so, I admire you for not compromising your family time. Great to see someone with such “moral authority”. Keep up the great work!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      thanks brett! i have my wife to thank for most of this, btw.

  • Noel Coleman

    I work in sales and know what it is to be persistent, rejected and still win the business in time. What I can tell you is that being able to persist AND be perceived as valuable is an art form. You have to know when to stop on the track you’re on, how long to wait before taking another one and then picking one that is more in line with your audience’s purpose.

    This guys mistake was simply that he was seeking to extract value instead of adding it. The goal behind any sale is connection. Connecting what your audience wants with what you have. You won’t get it right the first time every time and that’s o.k. What’s not o.k. is thinking that means something is wrong with the audience. If you don’t connect, it’s because YOU didn’t connect. Period. Reflect, revise, retry. But always seek to add value.

    But if it is of any consolation to those of us that are appalled by this encounter, this guy will more than likely crash and burn. Even if he’s able to eek out a bit of success for the short-term, he will never make it to the next level. The bar is just too high for that kind of approach to get him there.

    PS – Kudos to you, John, for posting this. Took some guts but in reality I think it’s good for us all to reflect sometimes and ask the question – Am I adding value or only taking it?

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      i thought about it for a bit because it would burn him directly, and he emailed me about this post thanking me for it… *weird, i know*.

  • http://myai.org Peter Saddington

    Rejection is part of the game. No shame in it.

    • http://john.do John Saddington


  • http://theannoyinglife.com Kevin Martin

    A lot of people have a hard time accepting rejection. That happens online and in real life.

  • http://www.thewoolyyarn.com Jay Schwartz

    Well said, John. Accepting rejection has a lot to do with developing all important ‘emotional intelligence’( as much as learning to say ‘no’ does, as well). In fact, it’s often been said that receiving rejection is a blessing in disguise, because it’s a learning and personal growth opportunity. So, when you think of it … that dude owes you a ‘thank you’!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      and he did…! but not in that way i believe. ;)

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    I worked real hard on that pitch. You didn’t even comment on my over-sized glasses!
    Haha, just kidding.

    I think rejection is true of life in general, not just the internet. Even if it’s just the personal rejection you feel when you don’t meet your goals – it’s almost inevitable. The only way to avoid it is to set your goals so low that nothing ever happens.

    • http://dustn.tv Dustin

      I thought I recognized you Loren! ;)

      And that last statement is unfortunately where a lot of people live their lives. I like the opposite philosophy:

      If you aim for the moon and miss, you still land among the stars.

    • Noel Coleman

      Wow. That’s all I can say.

  • http://www.bigb94.info Brandon

    Wow! Haha… That other person was bold (in a wrong sense)!

  • http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com Nikole Hahn

    You know what’s worse? marketers who can’t spell. Noticed a few misspellings on the part of your example. Not to mention the lack of professionalism in the photo. If you’re a business person, use a photo that says you’re serious.

    • http://dustn.tv Dustin

      lol I noticed that too!

  • http://www.supersimbo.com supersimbo

    John, this post could not have came at a better time for me – thanks brother

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      #LOL. i want more backstory!

  • http://feeds.feedburner.com/susansilver Susan Silver

    Wow, epic No.

    I have to admit I can be emotionally sensitive to rejections. When I was starting out as a blogger I was on both sides of this. Trying to network and getting the door slammed. Or the time someone wrote me more than 1,000 words about all my grammar mistakes and said I should thank them.

    We each have to set our boundaries of what is or isn’t acceptable.If things get bad, I think blocking it completely okay.

    My mother just blocked her first real person on Twitter. I was proud of how well she took it. She set her foot down on someone who was endlessly trying to market to her.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      blocking works! i know, i use it!

  • Mark D Worthen PsyD

    From a psychological perspective, if you find that you feel rejected fairly often, you might suffer from “rejection sensitivity.” Here’s a definition from a well-written article on Wikipedia:

    “[rejection sensitivity is] the tendency to anxiously expect, readily perceive, and over-react to social rejection. … given a high level of rejection sensitivity, an ambiguous social interaction can be perceived as rejection. … This can then lead to defensiveness and self-fulfilling prophecies that undermine social relationships.”

    The part about “self-fulfilling prophecies” is important because that is something you have control over, i.e., if you can identify what you do to solicit rejection from others (such as badgering someone), you can stop it.

    Obviously, if you have rejection sensitivity, working as a sales person or marketer will be tough. You should probably either find another vocation or see if you can overcome the problem (psychotherapy can help).

    Fortunately, most people don’t suffer from rejection sensitivity and for them adopting an attitude of “accept it and move on,” as you suggest, works quite well.


    P.S. I do not mean to imply in any way that the person with whom John interacted suffers from rejection sensitivity. I don’t know the dude and have no idea why he interacted the way he did.

    P.P.S. Occasionally when I make comments about psychological issues, a few people think I’m trying to solicit business. I’m not. I work as a forensic psychologist–I don’t do therapy.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      LOL. i love this comment the best. ;)

  • http://inhisloveministries.blogspot.com pilar arsenec

    Wow. I am sorry you had to go through that. But thanks for sharing that people can learn. I am grateful for your posts and you are accessible which is such an admirable quality. Thank you for all you do. Blessings.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      this isn’t the first and it won’t be the last. but, i’ll have a link ready to give out to new ones….!

  • http://www.lincolnparks.com Lincoln Parks

    Wow, that is absolutely amazing. Rejection is the name of the game and we must face it. It happens and we just have to move past it and put it out of our memory bank. Interesting blog post. The guys got offended really easily. I call it insecurity.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      this is very much a possibility…!

  • Blogging Tips

    I am awed after reading the conversation !! We should accept the rejection with open hands because this is the part of life.

    Thanks for sharing the real conversation !!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      sure thing buddy!

  • http://www.struggletovictory.com Kari Scare

    Here’s my simple philosophy about when others reject or offend me: It’s usually way more about them than it is about me. For this reason, I have broad shoulders and don’t take most this personally. Nothing earthshattering here, but it works for me, and my conscience is clear.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      i love this perspective!

  • http://notashamedofthegospel.com Peter Guirguis

    I thought that your responses John were well measured and that you handled the whole situation very appropriately. What ticked me off about this whole situation is this gentleman’s attitude. I feel like its because of guys like him that he as well as others give sales people a bad name.

    Many sales people have the same kind of flippant and careles attitude towards their customers or partners and it tarnishes the sales repertoire. I always felt that every sales person should follow the Zig Ziglar model of doing sales which is very ethical, gentleman-like, and caring.

    I’m not a sales person but I just have a high regard for the position and a low-regard for people that just want to make money without loving people in the process. The Christ-like model of sales is to love your neighbor as you love yourself then the money will come afterwards. Seek first the Kingdom…

    Thanks for letting me rant :-)

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      rock on! Zig is a model sales-guy. he really loved his people!

  • http://benrwoodard.com Ben

    Rejection and failing is what makes online learning so valuable. But only if you can learn from them.

  • http://jackedinmyjob.blogspot.co.uk/ Dawn Canning

    Make those who comment do a ‘CAPTCHA’. He’d never have got past that.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      ah, i wish!

  • Guirae

    2. In addition, never seek to waste someone’s time with back and forth engagement. Just ask the darn question in the same first initial contact. Be brief, be concise, and be explicit. Don’t be long-winded. We all have stuff to do.

    We need more men in our society. Thank you for exemplifying it and not compromising the truth so you don’t “hurt anyone’s feelings”.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      thanks guirae for your comment! i agree, please just ask the question! let’s go go go!

  • http://shannpf1977.blogspot.com/ Shannon’s Tales of Motherhood

    That dude was so weird! Almost like a freak. I understand sometimes with using rebutals but he acted obsessed! Almost like he enjoyed conversating with you but only he was making himself look like a idiot! Those glasses have to go and he needs to get a life!

    You handled him very well, I think It would have been hard for me to reply to him without going overboard, half of his comments didn’t make any sence…
    (sorry for my spelling.lol)

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      ;) all good!

  • http://CaptivatingCappadocia.com Duke Dillard

    Hey John, really appreciate your work. I was wondering about the issue of paid links. For the first time I had someone offer me money to put a link on my blog. I have no idea what all the issues are. Have you written about that in the past? Any advice on this would be appreciated. My inclination is to say no for a number of reasons, but it looked like you understood the issues much better so I thought I would ask.

    • http://www.struggletovictory.com Kari Scare

      I would love more information on this topic too. Having random adds isn’t my style, but I am interested in paid advertising and affiliates whose product relates to my blog theme.

    • http://john.do John Saddington
      • http://CaptivatingCappadocia.com Duke Dillard

        Thanks John, that is helpful.

        • http://john.do John Saddington

          sure thing duke!

  • PPay

    Hi John
    How about rejection on a personal front?
    I met this person through family after talking to him for over a month.
    The person was nice but I really couldn’t conclude anything in the first meeting.
    But before I could ask him to meet again, they conveyed a No.
    It was difficult to take it but then I got ok with it.
    It’s been a month now, and that person is still on my mind. I still feel that something went wrong
    but we should give it a try again. Clueless to as what to do to get some peace of mind.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      hmm. i’m honestly not sure since every situation is different…

    • http://www.struggletovictory.com Kari Scare

      Your comment stood out to me because I understand your perspective totally. I truly feel that rejection is often more about the other person than it is about me. I feel like there are circumstances I don’t know going on, and I probably won’t ever be able to know them. Instead of taking it personally, I just try to direct my thoughts towards believing that it’s not personal. I have been working to process this idea and even wrote about it in a post called Do You Have Broad Shoulders? (http://www.struggletovictory.com/?s=broad+shoulders), and I am touching on the idea agin in my post this coming Friday on Expectations. Hope this helps!