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3 Practical Ways to Deal With Terrible News at Work

You hoped for good news: a job promotion, high sales figures, a business investment…and you were let down. My tips on how to deal with a disappointment in your life (more specifically, disappointing news at work) are inspired by a problem I’m experiencing in my writing career right now.

While writing the final chapter of Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back (my first traditionally published book), I came up with two new book ideas. The first is a novel that has to be written before a publisher will consider it. That’ll take a lot of time, so have to shelve that book for now. I just started classes at Regent College in Vancouver — I’m working on my Master of Divinity — and can’t write fiction right now.

The second idea, however, is a nonfiction book called Your Heart Changes Everything. I can write that book while studying part-time and submit the manuscript before full-time school in September. Both my literary agent and the publisher of Growing Forward like this book idea…but the editor gave me some very disappointing news. 

Dealing with a major disappointment in your career — or in any part of life — isn’t easy. But when your heart and soul is in your work, you’re not just coping with disappointing news. You’re grieving the loss of your hopes and dreams.

Maybe you’re disappointed because you didn’t get a work promotion. Or, you didn’t get accepted into the college or university you really wanted. Maybe you’re a writer but you can’t get your work published and you don’t have a job that suits your personality (if that’s you, read Best Jobs for Introverts and People Who Like to Be Alone).

Not matter what type of work disappointment you’re dealing with, you’ll find hope and help here. And if you’re disappointed by my tips, you can express yourself freely in the comments section below! Working through your disappointment in writing is a great way to get past it.

How to Deal With Disappointing News

These tips for dealing with disappointment revolve around Joseph — a guy whose family members, boss, and fellow inmates let him down time after time. Joseph was bought and sold, victimized and falsely imprisoned, used and forgotten in a dungeon for years. His experiences taught him how to deal with disappointing news at work, home, or life in general.

Inspired by Genesis 41, this article is part of my She Blossoms Through the Bible project. You don’t have to believe in God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit to benefit from my tips on dealing with disappointment. Just keep an open mind!

1. Be honest about why you’re disappointed

How to Deal With Disappointment at Work
Dealing With Disappointing News

Genesis 41 tells us that Joseph had to stay in jail for two whole years longer than he expected. Joseph was the chief cupbearer’s and the baker’s personal attendant in jail, cared for their welfare, and even interpreted their dreams. Joseph asked the cupbearer to remember him after he was freed, which we glimpse in 3 Ways to Get Through the Dark Seasons of Life. Joseph explained that he was kidnapped and sold as a slave, then falsely imprisoned in the dungeon. He did nothing wrong, yet had to deal with disappointment after disappointment in his life and work. Joseph was honest about his experiences — yet he wasn’t bitter, angry, or offensive.

What are the roots of your disappointment? On the surface, it’s obvious. You’re disappointed because you didn’t get the job or promotion at work. It’s normal to be disappointed when you don’t get what you want or what you worked so hard for! Your motives may have been positive and even helpful to others — like me writing Your Heart Changes Everything. But what is underneath disappointment? What do your feelings reveal about how you feel about yourself, your work, your life? It’s hard to admit that your ego or pride is hurt. It’s hard to be rejected…but dealing with disappointing news in a healthy way has to include facing the reasons you feel so hurt.

2. Enter a season of healing and preparation

Our friend Joseph wasn’t just forgotten in jail by the Pharaoh’s cupbearer for two years. He was in custody for “some amount of time” (Genesis 40:4) before that, working in jail as the assistant to the cupbearer and baker. And before that Joseph worked for an officer of Pharaoh (Potiphar); before that, he was sold into slavery twice. Once by his own brothers! Joseph faced season after season of injustice and unfair treatment (though God blessed him in every season, which no doubt helped him deal with constant disappointments at work and in life). And when the time came, Joseph was prepared. When he was called by the Pharaoh, he was mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually prepared to move forward into a fresh new season of life.

Growing Forward She Blossoms Laurie Pawlik

How will you deal with — and use — this season of disappointment? It’s easy to fall into in all sorts of traps: victimization, comparisons, bitterness, grief, whatever your personal dark pit of despair happens to be. My self-imposed prison involves disconnection and isolation. I often deal with disappointing news by rejecting people and abandoning projects. Take my publisher, for instance: they’re waiting to see how Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back sells before offering me a contract on my second book. This deeply disappointment me, even though I know an author’s career depends on sales because that’s how publishers make money to keep publishing books. So, I need to learn how to deal with my disappointment in productive ways. What about you — how will you deal with disappointing news in healthy ways? How can you use this season to grow and get better at your work?

3. Leave the bitter roots behind

“Joseph named his first-born son Manasseh, meaning ‘God has made me forget all my hardship in my father’s house,” says Genesis 41:51. There is so much more to Joseph’s story — and it’s not just about dealing with disappointment in life! But for the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on how he dealt with his grief and pain. Joseph moved forward in his life by letting the past go and focusing on the task and people before him. He trusted God openly and took every opportunity that came his way. And Joseph forgave the people who sold, rejected, abandoned and forgot about him. Joseph never let his disappointment in people destroy his faith, work, or treatment of others. He forgave his offenders openly…but it wasn’t always easy.

Who do you need to forgive for disappointing you? Dealing with disappointing news might involve forgiving yourself, others, or even God. If you’re angry, bitter, or crushed because you didn’t get what you wanted at work or in life, you need to get to the root of the pain. Digging up that root — which I mentioned in my first tip on how to deal with disappointing news — will help you see if forgiveness needs to be involved. How will you learn from your disappointment and use it to grow forward?

By the way, Joseph isn’t just an example of how to deal with disappointing news at work. He is much, much more than that. Joseph was a faithful, obedient, kind, compassionate servant of God who didn’t let his grief or pain destroy his soul. Joseph gives us glimpses into Jesus Christ the Messiah; some believe Joseph was a “type of Jesus.” He gave his so others could live, he served without letting disappointment, grief, pain or bitterness take root.

How do my tips affect your thoughts on dealing with disappointing news at work, or in life? Your comments, big and little, are welcome below!

With His love,


P.S. Are you struggling to make a decision or find the right path in your life? Read an Easy Way to Stop Overthinking God’s Will for Your Life.


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