Dealing with Rejection: Advice for Young Leaders

How do you respond to rejection?

Dr. Becky Barker teaches leadership skills and organizational leadership to students at The University of Oklahoma. In this video, she shares her experiences working with students who are dealing with rejection for the first time.

Becky explains that hearing the word "no" can make students hesitant to reach for other goals, such as applying for scholarships and internships, because of the fear of rejection. Becky takes students through a self-leadership process, encouraging them to see the big picture and the availability of options beyond the initial rejection. Most importantly, Becky helps students understand how to respond and overcome challenges when faced with rejection.
One thing that we've seen with college students currently today, especially freshmen, is that they struggle with hearing the word "no." And for many students it's the first time that they're on their own and that they hear the word "no." So that's been really interesting. That's something that 20 years ago I didn't see, and now it's very emotional for a lot of students. A lot of them will choose not to apply for involvement opportunities or to apply for scholarships because they think that the door's been shut.

For so many of them it's a painful process. It's the first time that in their own eyes, seen themselves as failing and they don't know what to do with it. Sometimes I'll get a parent calling. It's just a different world. So we're trying to have those conversations with those students so that we can tell them it's what they do with that "no." It's what kind of "yes" are they looking for in that "no." If this doesn't happen, what are your options? What are your opportunities? And to try to get them really to convey how well they handle that no says volumes about their character and their future.

Dr. Becky Barker

Dr. Rebecca (Becky) Barker has worked in higher education since 1985 in various roles in student leadership development and leadership education. Her current work at the University of Oklahoma focuses on empowering college students to...

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