My Photo




  • FREE e-Letter

    Tips from
    The Queen of Rejection®

    Your First and Last Name:
    Your Email Address:

Entries categorized "Workplace"

Feeling Dissed at Work? Here's How to Bounce Back

by Elayne Savage, PhD

Maybe you were recently dissed in a meeting or by a
colleague in the workplace.

Maybe the affront takes the form of a mean-spirited remark. Or unreasonable demands on your time. Or the condescending attitude of your boss. Or someone playing favorites. Or a snarky coworker. Or a back-stabbing-idea-stealing team member.

What do you do? Do you resign your self to silence? Do you
speak up? Do you go along to get along?

It's usually difficult to decide how to respond. Even more these
days with so much at stake in the workplace. And in these stressful
and difficult times, workplace dissing takes on a whole new

Fear about job security  piles on yet another layer of anxiety
and stress.

I've been providing workplace coaching on disappointment,
rejection and taking things personally for over 25 years. I've
heard hundreds of stories.

Yet, I've never seen fear about recriminations so rampant.

"What if I get fired?"
"What if I don't get that project they promised?"
"What if they don't like me anymore?"

Stress and anxiety are easily passed from one person to another.
You don't even know you caught a dose of it until it starts weighing
you down. When folks around you are stressed and anxious they
might unload on you.

Anxieties need somewhere to go. When we cannot talk them
out, we tend to act them out - often on other people.

You probably have your own 'hot spot' that causes you distress.
Something happens that feels disrespectful and it starts festering.
Before you know it, you're dwelling on it - for hours, or days
or even weeks. How long does it take before it interferes with your
focus, your concentration and your productivity?

And the stress keeps building . . .

These days more than ever folks are contacting me for consultation on coping with rejection, slights, and condescending attitudes. Sometimes it's stinging words. Sometimes it's more subtle - a look or tone of voice that sends reverberations.

These days there's even more of a tendency to 'go along to
get along.' You are afraid to speak up. Afraid you might be
sorry for taking care of  yourself.

It's true some folks take things more personally than
others. They tend to fill in the blanks with what they
presume is meant by someone's actions or inactions.

Rather than fill in those blanks with your own explanation
of what someone might have meant, check out with that
person what was actually said and what was intended.

Here's how:

"This is what I heard you say."
"Is it what you said?"
"Is it what you meant?"

Below are typical stories I hear these days/

He can't say 'no'

Jonathan is distressed because he feels taken advantage of
at work. He feels trapped and can't see any way out.

Because it's important to him to impress his 'higher ups, he
can't say 'no' when someone requests he take on more work.

Talk about stress! He's been coming in early and leaving
late. And yes, working over lunch as well. Jonathan is a very
unhappy guy these days and his emotional and physical health
are being compromised.

Jonathan has never felt so stuck in his life. Yet he's afraid to 
speak up for fear he'll evoke displeasure or even lose his job.
His 'good boy' reputation - respectful, considerate and
accommodating - means a lot to him.

So what can Jonathan do to take better care of himself?
How can he find a way to get up the courage to say "no?"

We talked about some phrases he might experiment with:
"I cannot do everything you ask, but this is what I can do."
"You've asked me to do _________.
And you've asked me to do _________.
Which would you prefer I do first?"

Both choices are respectful and considerate, which is exactly
how he wants to be regarded. He really has nothing to lose.
Except the 'accommodating' part which gets him into trouble.

Left out and left hanging

Stephanie has a different sort of problem. She feels her
boss regularly shows favoritism to a her team leader.
During meetings, as the rapport grows between the other
two, Stephanie finds herself ''shutting down and disappearing."
"I lose my voice, and begin doubting my self."

To make matters worse, one day the team leader surprised
Stephanie by finding fault with Stephanie's report. It was the
section that would have given more responsibility and creativity 
went along with the criticism. What a backstab this was. It really hurt!

Myriad feelings might surface in situations like this: feeling left
out, betrayed, angry. Old sibling rivalries or middle
school peer rejection might spring up.

In this workplace situation, Stephanie might say to her coworker:
"I was under the impression you were in support of my ideas. I'm
confused as to why you changed your mind about this section
of the report. Perhaps you can help me understand your rational."

Maybe there is a reasonable explanation that Stephanie
can learn from for the future. If not, perhaps Stephanie can
convince her team leader to approach the boss together about
reconsidering the idea.

Have these kinds of situations occurred in your experience?
How can you feel less victimized by circumstances?
How can you empower yourself in what often feels like
a hopeless situation?
How can you feel like you have choices in the situation?
How can you stay centered and maintain your confidence?

I'd love to hear your experiences and ideas.

It's probably not about you

It helps to keep repeating "It's most likely not about me." Remind yourself when people treat people badly, it's often because they are stressed and anxious.

If a stressed out coworker is feeling anxious or fearful,  they most likely try hard to control this anxiety. Usually folks do this by trying to control their world. Trouble is, there are people in their world who are feeling controlled by them. And it feels pretty yucky.

Sure you can take it personally. That's one option. But chances are it's really not about YOU. Chances are it's about the other person's need to feel less anxious. So
another option is to put yourself in their shoes and try to
understand how they may be feeling.

Understanding reciprocity

Understanding the concept of reciprocity helps you
navigate these energy draining negative experiences.
Reciprocity relates to how each person's behavior affects
and is affected by the behavior of the other.

It means taking a good look at how both of you participate
in and contribute to the flow of any interaction. In both
negative and positive ways.

In other words, what someone thinks you think about them is
how they are going to respond to you.

With this in mind, let's look at how you can act to moderate negative message flow when it feels dismissive and rejecting. And how you can enhance positive message flow that feels validating and respectful.
Consider how respect is the key to effective teamwork.

Trouble is, it can be a struggle to accept someone's
style of doing things when it's different from your own.

We all have different styles of thinking, communicating,
doing, creating and being. We each learn these 'ways' in
our families, through cultural influences going back many
generations  — attitudes, beliefs, rules, values, and

These family messages are passed down from generation
to generation.

So in any team meeting, you have quite a few more folks then
the group around the conference table. You have a roomful of
family members — both dead and alive — hovering around.
Each is clamoring to get their point of view across. Parents,
grandparents, step parents, aunts, uncles. Oh my.

Notice how 'crowded' the room is. See how many differences
of style are represented. Remember what we call a 'personality
conflict' is usually a style incompatibility.Understand how many
people might be taking something personally at any given time.

Is it any wonder team meetings can be so overwhelming?

We often feel uncomfortable or even threatened by differences
in thinking and doing. And our discomfort shows on our face,
especially if the other person is prone to reading expressions.
And they are most likely 'filling in the blanks' trying to figure out
what we are thinking about them. Not a good situation.

Here is a terrific way to regain mutual respect and get things back
on track. And it works both inside and outside the workplace:

Try finding something you can LIKE OR APPRECIATE about
the annoying person. It could be a certain skill, sense of humor,
color of shirt, or hairstyle. During any interaction with them
concentrate on that positive feature.

When a person sees RESPECT in your eyes, they are more
likely to respond positively to you. Give it a try.

And it's oh-so-empowering when it works!

Let me know.
© Elayne Savage, PhD

Until next month,

Elayne Savage is the author of ground-breaking books published in 9 languages.

You can order books and CDs directly from my website.


A COUPLE from Amazon:


You can use the articles in 'Tips from The Queen of Rejection'®
as long as you include a complete attribution and, whenever
possible, a live link to my website. Please notify me where and
when the material will appear.

The attribution should include this information:

Elayne Savage, PhD is a communication coach, professional speaker, practicing psychotherapist and author. To find out more about her speaking  programs, coaching and consulting services visit:
or call 510-540-6230

AND if you or your group can benefit from how not to take 
rejection so personally, let's talk about tailoring one of my 
speaking programs for you.

Contacting Elayne

I welcome your feedback as well as suggestions for topics you'd 
like to see addressed in this e-letter.

Here's how you can reach me:

Elayne Savage
[email protected]

PRIVACY POLICY:  Your name and email address are confidential.
I will not rent, trade or sell your contact information to anyone.

July 31, 2023

February 28, 2023

September 30, 2022

February 28, 2022

January 31, 2022

July 31, 2021

January 31, 2019

August 31, 2017

October 31, 2015

January 31, 2015

January 24, 2014

November 21, 2013

October 15, 2013

September 17, 2013

July 31, 2013

June 28, 2013

May 10, 2013

April 01, 2013

March 01, 2013

October 31, 2011

August 31, 2011

June 30, 2011

May 18, 2011

March 14, 2010

October 29, 2009

August 29, 2008

July 28, 2008

May 10, 2007

April 13, 2007

March 13, 2007