It’s hard to not take everything impacting your business personally when you’re living the entrepreneur, grind-it-out-24-7 lifestyle. There’s often no line between your professional and personal life; your identity and your reason for being are entirely wrapped up in your business. So when someone seems to disrespect what you’re building, it’s easy to get caught up in thinking that they’re disrespecting you.
It’s especially hard when so much “ghosting“– when someone stops all communication and contact with you with no explanation– happening these days. I was reminded of this phenomenon recently as I reflected on all the radio silence I’ve encountered over the years as an entrepreneur.
In many ways, ghosting is harder than hearing a “no.” At least a rejection reflects that someone had enough respect for you to put their decision down in writing. When I don’t hear back from a high-profile investor or a potential partner, it stings. It signals to me that my idea was so insignificant that it didn’t even warrant a response.
When this happens, it’s easy to get caught up in this loop of negativity. Why didn’t they write me back? Why didn’t my Instagram post get enough likes? Your stress levels can quickly go through the roof.
It was only when I learned to detach myself from the situation and not take these inevitable disappointments personally that I was able to really shut out the noise in my head and concentrate on what really matters– doing great work.
Here are some tactics I learned over time to do exactly that:
I learned to have empathy for the other person.
It’s easy to look at a situation from our perspective alone, without considering what is happening in the life of the person on the other end of the exchange. We’re all busier than ever. We’re all figuring out a way to not be overwhelmed.
Consider that the person “ghosting” you may be grappling with a sick parent, and not being on top of their inbox. Or battling an illness themselves, or struggling with anxiety. Have some grace and consider the times in your life when you needed to prioritize your own self-care over timely responses to others.
If you can cultivate empathy for one person, it’s a short journey to cultivating empathy for others– for your teammates, for your customers, for loved ones. And there are few more important capabilities in today’s workplace than using that sense of empathy to deliver value for those around you.
Focus on the positives.
If you relentlessly focus on what’s not working or on the shortcomings, you may identify areas of improvement, but you’ll miss everything special about your venture and what you bring to the table. The same goes for your interactions with others, especially prospective investors and partners. Don’t dwell on the rejections or radio silence. When it happens, think how great it felt to hear “yes.”
Ask yourself, what did you do differently when you heard yes? By focusing on the times when I succeeded, I have been able to replicate and scale that success.
Drop the mask. When you get caught up in the negativity of taking rejections or setbacks personally, you leave yourself closed off from an entire world of authentic relationships. Don’t be too proud to reach back out, express your emotions constructively, and to tell others around you how you really feel.
Hearing “no” can be hard. Hearing nothing can be harder. But it doesn’t need to ruin your day, your week, or your month. In fact, if you’re open to listening, it can open up new opportunities.