Rejection in the Workplace

By Melissa van der Werf, RDH, BS on November, 8 2018
Rejection in the Workplace
Melissa van der Werf, RDH, BS

Melissa has a strong foundation in educating hygienists and dentists on treating chronic periodontitis, implant maintenance, and implementing periodontal programs within a practice.

We’ve all had it happen. It’s humiliating, it’s disheartening and it’s discouraging.


Rejection: it happens.  


When it happens in the workplace, it can be very difficult to maintain professionalism. I have found that in dentistry in particular, it is critical to maintain professional relationships in the face of rejection. 


Dentistry has its own set of rules and its own circle of influence. Those circles are small and unprofessional behavior can circulate quickly. When we are rejected, we tend to want to lash out. We want to make our side known.


I recently experienced it.


I had eagerly accepted a job that, to me, seemed to be a dream job. I had wanted to make the move from clinical hygiene, and this job provided that. I made my way to my first training, which was out of town, where I quickly realized I did not fit. I don’t know what the problem was, but there was a problem.  


After a day of training and learning, I was pulled aside and asked to not return the next day. I was beyond humiliated. I sat and I listened to the many ways I was inadequate according to this person. I then walked to my hotel room, retrieved the training manual and said goodbye to a dream. 


I collapsed. Tears came readily, as did the sobbing. The next morning, I left early and went home. My first thought was, “How do I recover from this?” My second thought was, “Who does she think she is?” and my thoughts spiraled from there. Anger, resentment and hatred spewed from my body, and then reality hit.  


She was still going to run a successful company and no matter how hurt I was, it would in no way affect her. This was only affecting me. So how did I handle it? I can tell you things I didn’t do, and you shouldn’t do, either:  


  • Don’t talk badly about the person. That only reflects badly on you. 
  • Don’t take it personally. I have found that rejection in the workplace is similar to dating. Sometimes your baggage isn’t compatible. It has nothing to do with who you are as a person. It has more to do with what the company needs and what you can give. They don’t always jive just because you are a hygienist and the employer is looking for a hygienist.  
  • Don’t dwell on it. Stop that tape in your head that tells you that you aren’t good enough. When that thought comes, tell yourself, “I know I am a great hygienist.”


Let me leave you with something you could do. In the world of Elsa from Disney’s Frozen, “Let it go,” and move on. 


I think about my recent experience every once in a while and wonder why it didn’t work. I have no idea what happened but I know I am still a highly capable and intelligent person. There was nothing that happened that day that will prevent me from finding another dream job. I haven’t found it yet but I am looking. I know eventually it will fall in to place, and it will for you too.

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