- On May 3, 2019
Hundreds of successful lawyers have told me that their careers zigzagged and that there is no straight line to the top. How you deal with inevitable rejection can set you apart. Do you get beaten down, or do you figure out what you do best and who has a need for that?
Wharton professor Adam Grant explains in a recent New York Times article that our bodies react to rejection like it’s physical pain. (Yes, it does hurt!) The evolutionary purpose for craving social acceptance was make sure we didn’t leave our tribe too easily. But now we are wired to overreact to rejection, which happens all too often in the workplace: getting ideas shot down, bombing an interview, being fired….
We can learn to take rejection in stride. The key is to recognize the lack of fit is neither side’s fault. Also, understand that we are made up of multiple identities and only one is being rejected. Indeed “resilience comes from turning to another identity that matters to you.”
I often see attorneys beaten down. However, they should remember they bring skills to the table and then should figure out how to communicate effectively. I agree with Professor Grant: “We are more than the bullet points on our resumes. We are better than the sentences we string together into a word salad under the magnifying glass of an interview. No one is rejecting us. They are rejecting a sample of our work, sometimes only after seeing it through a foggy lens.”