Though the filmmaker didn’t get a best director nod, he still sent the Oscar nominees gifts. How you can turn being passed over at work into a win.
And the award for most gracious loser goes to – Steven Spielberg.
“The Post” filmmaker was snubbed in the Best Directors category for this year’s Academy Awards, but Page Six reported that he sent congratulatory champagne and caviar to the nominees picked over him, including first-timers Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig, as well as Paul Thomas Anderson, Guillermo del Toro and Christopher Nolan.
Sure, Spielberg already has two Best Director Oscars for “Saving Private Ryan” and “Schindler’s List,” so the slight may not have stung as sharply as it did when he was snubbed for “Jaws” in 1976. But career experts say that the Hollywood heavyweight still set the gold standard for how to handle a professional disappointment this week.
“He was very smart; he sent a little gift to everyone, and he made sure that people knew he did it. He followed the rule of being visibly proactive, being positive and being a good sport about it,” Charlene Li, a business strategy expert and author of “The Engaged Leader,” told Moneyish. “This is a long game. And people are looking to see how you lose. The last thing you want to do is slink away into a cave and sulk, or be perceived as doing that.”
Almost everyone will be passed over for a promotion, a plum project, a business trip invitation or some some other office honor at some point in their careers. So Li and Monster.com career expert Vicki Salemi shared their tips for turning a loss into a win.
Congratulate the other person/people. Even if this is a bitter rival, you need to be the bigger person and applaud her achievement. If it’s too difficult to say something face-to-face, pen a handwritten note or send a voicemail congratulating her; something more personal than a mere text. “Keep it short and sweet: ‘Congratulations, I’m happy for you, and this is a great move for you,’” said Salemi. “These gestures go a very long way, and think about it: You will most likely work with this person now in a new capacity, or they may even hire you for your next job. You never know.”
Process your disappointment privately. It’s natural to feel furious, embarrassed or devastated, but keep those emotions out of the office. “Take care of yourself first, make peace with these feelings, but don’t talk about this negatively at work,” said Li. Try meditation and breathing exercises if you feel overwhelmed in the office, or blow off steam by exercising or venting with friends (who aren’t colleagues) after hours.
Don’t get caught up on office drama. One of your coworkers will inevitably say something like, “Sorry you didn’t get it,” or “Don’t you feel disappointed?” Don’t rise to the bait. Li suggests preparing a diplomatic response the same way professional athletes do for those locker room interviews after big losses. “They always say something like, ‘I put it all out there, and I’m so bummed, but we gave it our all today, and there’s another game tomorrow,’” she said. “You can address the elephant in the room – ‘Yeah, I’m disappointed’ – but then follow with, ‘but I’m also really happy for Mary.” Salemi also suggests pivoting with something like, “I’m excited for her, and I think it’s going take our department into a nice direction,” which can then shift the conversation to future projects.
Meet with your boss to find out why. Maybe you weren’t as qualified as you thought you were. Or maybe there were some other factors at play that were outside of your control. You won’t know until you ask. “It shows ambition, and it shows that you are being proactive,” said Salemi, who suggested leading off with, “I’m not going to lie to you – I’m disappointed – but I’m using this as a learning point and fuel to motivate me for the next time, because the next time, I want to land it.” Don’t get defensive; be open to feedback and take notes on what is said.
Try again – here, or elsewhere. Spielberg isn’t going to stop making movies; he’ll be back with another blockbuster. So if you received useful feedback, put that into practice so that you won’t be passed over the next time. But if your manager refused to meet, didn’t give a satisfactory explanation for why you weren’t chosen, or gives dishonest feedback that contradicts your own records, it could be time to throw your hat in the ring somewhere else. “The biggest mistake people make in their careers is that they overstay at companies, and they don’t exercise the power of their two feet to walk out the door,” said Li. “If you feel that your prospects to grow at that company are not there, then maybe it’s time for you to look for another job.”
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