With summer breaking through in the Midwest, I drive home after work with my windows down, country music flowing through the speakers, and dream of being in shorts and a T-shirt at last. Throwing my bag down on the floor, I then immediately find the right Nike Tempo shorts and T-shirt to put on. Black, white, or festive crew socks? Whatever best matches the color scheme I have put together that day. Now that I’ve assured anyone coming within 0.3 miles of me will be able to see me with my assortment of neon hues… I grab my headphones, GPS watch, iPod and head for the door.
But, before I can make it down the stairs there’s a collie following my every move. By slanting his eyebrows down and making well thought out whimpers just at the right cadence, Rex pleads, “Take me with you, take me with you. Please?” I mean really, how do I say “no” to that! I just can’t. And even though he always completely throws off my run with his half mile sprint to start, I snag his leash, take off, and prepare myself for the insane amount compliments about to take place regarding the majestic pup pulling me along. Can you blame them though?
As most of us in the workforce (I won’t say all, because being that assumptive can get you in trouble) do not have beautifully groomed locks of fur, a snout that allows us to secretly knock food off of the counter and eyes that you just can’t say “no” to – we must understand that rejection is inevitable at some point. Yes, Jesse Williams (Jackson from Grey’s Anatomy), you do have eyes that can make any gal melt – but nothing competes with man’s best friend. Trust me.
When talking about my own career I’ve often been candid in sharing that recruiting was not my first choice as a starter job, but the right choice. You learn how to deal with “no” very quickly. Along with, “You’re getting ‘no’ because you need to do ‘this, this, and this’ better.” This morning, my Twitter feed offered up an interesting blog title related to this, “On Losing Your Fear of Rejection and Embracing ‘No.’”
The blog specifically discusses rejection as it pertains to jobseekers. Resumé after resumé peddled out, e-mail after e-mail with thanks but no thanks. But I think it’s important for Millennials to understand that when you’re a new grad beaming with your college degree, you’re going to hear “no” even when you do land that job. It could come from customers or co-workers but be prepared for when it occurs. Whether it’s a rejected sale, project idea, or vacation request – it’s going to happen.
Taking rejection and criticism is a trait Millennials are not typically ready to deal with appropriately. However, I think this lesson is not solely for 18-32 year olds but can be learned at any age, it’s never too late.
To highlight this, earlier this week I attended an event where Gene Smith, Athletic Director at The Ohio State University, was a guest speaker. He mentioned Gen Y and Z having issues with discussing rejection or criticism face-to-face. As an example, his student-athletes would rather send an e-mail or text to their professor questioning why they got an “A-” instead of an “A” rather than meet in person. Regardless of generation, if you understand face-to-face communication is the best way for you to deal with rejection or criticism, this is what can separate you from the pack. If face-to-face is impossible, make the phone call.
Millennials, you’re competing with peers who are also intelligent, have internships, have degrees and in a lot of cases advanced degrees. Yet, the unemployment rate is currently hovering around 11-12% for this age group. The question I always ask myself is, what are the other 88% doing right? Understanding how to deal with “no” at the age of 22 (an age Taylor Swift made much cooler than it actually is) is a differentiator when it comes to the workforce.
You can try your best Rex impression to turn a “no” into a “yes,” but if you truly want to separate yourself – accept you will hear “no,” understand how to deal with “no,” and learn from “no.”