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How to Deal with Employment Promotion Disappointment

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Feelings of disappointment are inevitable when you get passed over for a promotion. Regardless of whether you deserved the promotion or your boss hinted that you were a shoo-in for the position, it's never easy to hear that you didn't get the role. But you don't have to allow your feelings of disappointment to get the best of you. You can get through this -- and maybe even end up stronger in the end.

Manage Your Emotions

Although it might be tempting, avoid yelling at your boss or using sarcasm with co-workers upon hearing that you didn't get the promotion. You might experience a range of emotions, such as anger or sadness, but keep your emotions to yourself. If necessary, take a short break or go for a walk. A change of scenery might give you a fresh perspective or, at the very least, help you calm down so you can get through the rest of your day.

Express Your Grief

Grief is a common reaction for people who have been passed over for promotions, states Nancy Recker, educator at the Family and Consumer Sciences of the Ohio State University Extension. You might associate grief with loss, such as with the death of a loved one. But not getting a promotion that you had your heart set on is also a type of loss. Discuss your feelings with family or trusted friends, and give yourself time to process the disappointment.

Regroup and Move Forward

Once you've accepted and dealt with the reality of the situation, move on from your disappointment. Ruminating over how things "should have been" only increases your feelings of loss, anger and frustration. It's OK to express your disappointment in a constructive manner, says Christopher Peterson, a professor of psychology at University of Michigan in a 2011 interview with the "Harvard Business Review." Instead of focusing on what's transpired, ask your boss what needs improving in the company, so you can work toward getting promoted in the future.

Change Your Perspective

Identify the positive aspects of not getting the promotion. Maybe it would have entailed working longer hours or involved relocating to a different state. Avoid the pitfalls of defeatist thoughts, such as "I'm no good" and "I'll never get a promotion." Catch yourself when you find yourself stuck in a pattern of negative thinking and frame your thoughts with more realistic expectations, suggests psychologist Joti Samra in a May 2012 article for the "Globe and Mail." Tell yourself that you will work harder, stay focused, and earn the promotion the next time around.


Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.

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