Handling “No” in Business: 5 Strategies for Success

If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment. – Henry David Thoreau

As a business owner or professional, you will inevitably encounter rejection at some point in your career. I have been rejected in many ways:

😡Laid off.

😡Lost a deal.


😡Lost a client.

😡Didn’t get the job offer.

Whether it is a potential client who chooses another vendor or a job opportunity that doesn’t pan out, hearing the word “no” can be discouraging.  Everyone in business will receive a “no”!  If you are a solopreneur, entrepreneur, boss or employee, this rejection will come.   

It is important to remember that rejection is a normal part of doing business, and there are strategies you can use to handle it with grace and resilience. At the end of this post, I have provided several quotes from names you’ve most likely heard of and their ideas about rejection. 

Here are five tips for handling “no” in business:

1. Don’t take it personally

When you receive a ”no”, it’s natural to feel disappointed or frustrated. It hits you in the gut and hurts to the bone.  That initial feeling is something that we all have experienced.  However, it is important to remember that the decision is likely not a personal reflection of you or your abilities. Instead, it may be based on factors such as budget constraints, timing, or other business priorities. Separate yourself from the rejection and avoid taking it personally.  This will help you maintain your self-confidence.

2. Ask for feedback

It does not hurt to ask.  Seek feedback from the person who delivered the rejection.  One of the businesses that I co-founded recently received a “no” for an RFP we were participating in.  It hurt, trust me.  But I want to know “why” we received a “no.” Make sure to ask the rejector if they can provide insights into why they chose another vendor or why you were not selected for the job.  Make sure to maintain the highest level of professionalism as you may just be working on the next deal, or the next job offer. Be respectful and open to constructive criticism. This can help you turn a negative experience into a learning opportunity and lay the cornerstone for future success.

3. Be persistent

I do not see anything wrong with displaying some tenacity.  Do not be deterred by a “no” answer. The future is right in front of you and it is important to keep the door open by asking if there’s anything you can do to change the decision or if you can follow up at a later time.  If the answer is still no, don’t be pushy (there is always a time to step back).  Allow a little bit of time and follow up in a few months to see if the situation has changed. 

This recently happened to me in a business deal.  I was told “no” initially but followed up about 6 months later. Success!  We are now engaged in a deal process, and I hope to win the business soon. Persistence can pay off, and by showing that you’re committed to building a relationship with the company, you may be able to earn future opportunities.  A strong relationship will be key to future opportunities.

4. Stay professional

Even if you receive a negative response, it’s important to remain professional and courteous in all your interactions. My mom always said that I should not “burn any bridges!”  Do not be defensive or confrontational and make sure to say “thank you” for the time and consideration.  Again, this will help leave the door open for future opportunities.  Maintaining a positive and respectful attitude can help you build relationships with decision-makers, which could benefit you in the future.

5. Learn from the experience

Henry Rollins had it right when he said, “We all learn lessons in life. Some stick, some don’t. I have always learned more from rejection and failure than from acceptance and success.”

Every “no” is an opportunity to learn and grow. Take time to reflect on what you could have done differently and use the experience to improve your approach in the future. By staying open to feedback and constantly improving, you will be better equipped to handle rejection and ultimately succeed in business.


In conclusion, rejection sucks!  When I hear the word “no” in business, it just hurts.  Even so, handling rejection in business is a critical skill for any solopreneur, entrepreneur or professional. These five strategies will help you can handle rejection with grace and resilience and turn negative experiences into learning opportunities. Remember, rejection is not a personal reflection of your abilities, and persistence, professionalism, and a willingness to learn can help you succeed in the long run.

5 Tips to Help You handle “No” #adversity #rejection #no #mindset #tips

Quotes on handling rejection

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” – Jimmy Dean

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” – Aristotle

“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.” – Og Mandino

“Never give up! Failure and rejection are only the first step to succeeding.” – Jim Valvano

“Successful people reject rejection.” – John C. Maxwell

“Sometimes rejection in life is really redirection.” – Tavis Smiley

“I take rejection as someone blowing a bugle in my ear to wake me up and get going, rather than retreat.” – Sylvester Stallone

“You have to learn to take rejection not as an indication of personal failing but as a wrong address.” – Ray Bradbury

“Refuse to let the fear of rejection hold you back. Remember, rejection is never personal.” – Brian Tracy

“Rejection is not failure; failure is giving up on yourself because of the rejection.” – Brooke Davis

“It’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down or you’re beaten up. It’s about how many times you stand up and are brave and you keep on going.” – Lady Gaga

“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.” – Will Rogers

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill

“Rejection is a challenge, a redirection. It is not the end; it is the beginning.” – Brian Tracy

Collin Harbour

Collin W. Harbour is the Principal Founder of C Harbour Services LLC, a business transformation and strategy company that develops strategic plans by aligning sales and plans with company goals, people and process.

Collin is a client growth and business strategy leader with experience identifying new business opportunities, as well as managing and growing client revenues. Through C Harbour Services LLC, Collin focuses on creating customized solutions that deliver valuable services, allowing clients to focus on their core business. He is a Co-Host of Strike a Chord Live Podcast with his lifelong friend, Marcus Ellis. SACL Podcast is a Motivational and Inspirational podcast, with a mix of Nostalgia and Fun! Harbourtime Strategy Talks is a blog and podcast providing strategic content for companies of all sizes.