Facing Adversity At Work? 10 Ways To Build A Thicker Skin

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At times it can be difficult to turn off our emotions—especially when it comes to separating personal feelings and work. While it’s perfectly normal to have negative feelings in the face of difficult work situations, wallowing in these emotions for too long can affect your job performance as well as your overall well-being.

Whether you’re dealing with low confidence, adversity or rejection, building a thicker skin can help you make it through whatever professional challenges you’re facing. Below, 10 members of Young Entrepreneur Council share some tips to help you brush off feelings of negativity and press onward.

Photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Read The Four Agreements

At the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, I had a really hard time separating emotions from work. I used to take a lot of things personally. Reading one book completely changed all of this for me: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. If you live your life based on the four principles in this book, you’ll never again have to even think about building a thicker skin to take on adversity, rejection or low confidence. Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best no matter what. If you keep these four agreements with yourself, no one will ever phase you because your integrity will always be intact. Finally become free from self-limiting beliefs that cause suffering in your life. – Laura Egocheaga, Viral Growth Media

2. Remember That Everyone Is Entitled To Their Feelings

You can’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and everyone is entitled to their feelings. You won’t always know why someone dislikes you or chooses to reject you, but you can always know that it’s not a reflection of your worth as an individual. Rejection is part of the job, and it doesn’t mean you aren’t successful. It’s simply a part of the process. Women can tend to add emotion to a business decision, but the guilt associated with rejection is a worthless emotion in business that doesn’t serve to progress your goals. Accept rejection as just another part of the business process and remind yourself to keep going on to the next deal. – Darby Cox, Darby Cox LLC

3. Assess Your Emotions Objectively

When you need to separate work and personal feelings, get out a sheet of paper and draw a column down the middle. Put “personal” on the left side and “work” on the right side. Ask yourself what emotions you are feeling and put that emotion under each of the columns. Do this until you’re completely out of emotions. Then go through each one individually and ask these questions: What is the purpose of this emotion or the lesson it is trying to teach me? With that information now available, what is the emotion you want? What is stopping you from that outcome? Who has solved this problem before that I can reach out to? By taking it in manageable chunks and discovering the root of the emotion, you can systematically solve the puzzle. – Klyn Elsbury, MK Foundation

4. Channel Your Emotions Into Something Productive

For me, the most important thing is ensuring my emotions don’t interfere with my ability to move forward, take action and have agency over my work. I can be pretty emotional. I get riled up about employees, customers, sustainability—you name it. I don’t consider this a bad thing if I funnel it effectively. I try to process my emotions quickly, separating out and utilizing the productive elements to help me make decisions and take the next steps. – Saloni Doshi, Eco Enclose, LLC

5. Take A Break

Whenever you are feeling overwhelmed or emotional, take a 30-minute break. Go for a walk, get up and work on something else or call a trusted advisor. The break will give you time to calm down, take a fresh look at the situation and reevaluate your answer or action before you do it. – Jennifer A Barnes, Optima Office, Inc

6. Trust The Process

Remember that adversity is all part of the process. As entrepreneurs, we face rejection on multiple levels and no matter how many times it happens, it doesn’t get any easier. I believe it is less about building a thicker skin and more about acknowledging the challenges and being open to how you can grow from them. No one likes rejection or feeling like what they’re doing isn’t enough, but there are always lessons you can learn. Listen to the feedback and remember that you’re not the only one who has faced them before. The difficult, challenging experiences you face today will give you the knowledge and resilience to push through tomorrow. – Suneera Madhani, Fattmerchant

7. Learn To Separate Yourself From Your Business

In many cases, rejection and adversity hit the business as a whole, so it’s important to separate yourself from your business. If a prospect decides to hire another company instead of yours or a job candidate decides to work for another company, it’s critical that you understand it’s not personal. The prospect or the candidate did what was best for their business or their career. It’s important to understand that rejection and challenges will be more frequent than easy encounters. – Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC

8. Let Go Of What You Can’t Control

When people don’t treat you well, it is easy to take their behavior personally. You tend to blame yourself and think about what could be your fault for them to hurt you. Taking things personally is emotionally draining. You reevaluate your value and self-esteem constantly, trying to reassure yourself that you are still worthy. You think that it is a way to improve yourself, but the truth is you become less productive. When you don’t take things personally, it gives you more control over your emotions and puts your energy into greater things. Know your value and stop basing your importance on how pleased people are with you. It’s impossible to please everyone. It’s not always about you—let go of things that you aren’t in control of. – Daisy Jing, Banish

9. Find A Role Model

As an entrepreneur, you will come across some people who dislike you or doubt you. People say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” but in reality, people get upset very quickly. Adversities will cause people to drift and break from their goals, so it is imperative to have a thick skin. I personally advise you to seek and follow a role model. Find someone who has already achieved what you are striving to achieve and just repeat what works instead of contemplating and consuming your energy. One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received is, “It’s not what happens in life that matters, but how you interpret it matters.” Don’t pay much attention to negativity. Stay focused! – Kelly Richardson, Infobrandz

10. Work On Building Your Confidence

The more confidence you have in yourself, the more assured you’ll feel about your decisions. You need to trust yourself to be a successful business owner whom people cannot take advantage of. If you know you have an important meeting coming up, you can build your confidence by doing your homework and coming prepared so your decision-making skills and critical thinking are on point. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms



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