How to cope when you get knocked back at work

I’m sure we’ve all been there at one time or another; overlooked for the longed-for promotion, passed-over for a more suitable model or moved ‘sideways’ under the guise of a move up – so what do you do about it when it happens to you?

No doubt there will be feelings of shock, anger, disappointment or inadequacy – it’s how you deal with it that will shape the rest of your career.


You could find yourself in trouble if you allow those feelings to overpower you. Feelings of ill-will can lead to workplace resentment which, in turn, could lead to the deliberate undermining of colleagues or the person who got ‘your job’.

What we should be doing in these difficult times is examining why we have been ‘overlooked’, the easier option however is to allow bitterness and anger to creep in, or the green-eyed monster to take control. As a result, work relationships start to erode and, more worryingly, your own self esteem and maybe even integrity.

It might be easy to avoid the fact you’ve started engaging in work-place sabotage or passive-aggressive behaviour; on the surface doing your job whilst at the same time, doing your best to make life difficult for those you’ve decided are at fault. In short, acting like a sulky child who didn’t get what they wanted.

Even if you truly love the company you work for, this behaviour can only result in your own unhappiness, increased resentment and ultimately may end in resignation or dismissal.


OK, so you may have just received, in your view, a monumental slap-in-the-face by not being promoted, given the new project or moved to your dream role, but this is a good time to sit yourself down and ask why? Why was I overlooked? What did the person who got the job have that I don’t?

These are difficult questions to ask, mainly because no-one wants to feel they are second-best or have to face their own shortcomings however, asking those questions is essential if you want to grow into the person who is able to take these setbacks and learn from them.

Sit down with your boss and find out why you were overlooked; what do you need to improve upon, what could you have done differently, where are your skill gaps?

Armed with this information you can start to look at things objectively; to re-frame, refocus, and thereby move forward to a more rewarding role within your existing company, or a more challenging and lucrative role somewhere else – ultimately to grow into the person you want, and need, to be.


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