How To Deal With Rejection

You can tell a lot about someone’s character by how they handle rejection.

As a human you are likely to face rejection on an on-going basis (if not, you’re not taking enough risk!), but for founders the rejection is constant and never ending. Investors, potential customers, competitors the list goes on. You must adapt and develop a thick skin (founder body armor): rejection does get easier the more it happens.


Remember that it almost never pays to respond to a rejection immediately.


Options For Responding to Rejection:

  1. Reply Positively: “seems like it wasn’t a fit but we appreciate your time”. This is almost aways the best choice.

  2. Don’t Reply At All: This is pretty neutral

  3. Reply with Justification: No wants to hear defensive essay, refuting point by point. This not typically a good response.

  4. Reply Negatively: The emotional or snappy retort: a go F*ck yourself (often with typos galore). This is by far the worst option, though it may feel good in the moment.


Although it can be difficult, responding to criticism or rejection (whether totally off base or not) with a positive tone, is almost always the best approach. Especially with investors — it’s not unusual for an investor to later change their mind and go on to make an investment they may have initially passed on. So do your best to always leave doors open.


Also, while it sounds super corny, a great strategy is one my Mom taught me years ago: respond the same way an aspirational role model would. Remember there is power in not giving up. Rejection can motivate.


Admire Barack Obama? Just think to yourself, how would Barack respond?



You might also enjoy:

Thanks for stopping by!

If you’d like to receive occasional updates and new writings from me sign-up below and never miss an update.