Your promotion was given to someone else – now what?  

In life, we race about almost everything – better places in the cinema, tables to the window in the restaurant on the seaside, comfortable sit in the airplane, the next role we want in our career. Sometimes we win, and sometimes we lose. While not being able to get the best places in the restaurant, cinema, or on the next flight to your favorite destination, being passed for a promotion, especially when you so much want it, is a direct strike toward our self-confidence and our ego.  

Why is this person chosen?  

What does she or he have that I do not have?  

Did he or she had better connections with the senior leadership team?  

Is the process being honestly led?  

Questions like those above are often in our heads when the leadership team does not choose us for the next promotion we so much want. Like anything else, this things sticks into our head and makes us defensive, emotional and ready to strike back to the imposter who has landed our next dream job.  

Sounds familiar – well, you are not alone. According to Schein & Schein’s research back in 2019, 38% of people not chosen in a promotion process will react the same way. We suffer, get angry, respond dramatically, search for ways to get payback for what has happened. As these phases are standard in accepting the new reality, many people reach an end decision to switch departments, function, and even company, just because their ego is harmed at this moment. 

But the emotionally intelligent people who understand strengths and development sides and can accept where they are as a trampoline for the next big thing in their lives react differently. Limited research I have conducted with a group of colleagues psychologists from Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, and Austria at the beginning of 2020 resulted in collecting information from about 2000 people regarding how it will be appropriate to deal with unpleasant for your (your ego) situation.  

From the first list of more than 120 things shared, four have evolved as crucial to deal with the sorrow of being passed for promotion and deal with the situation positively. Here I am sharing them with you to help you overcome your next rejection and work toward winning from it.  

Do not hold a grudge against the person promoted  

It is a natural reaction to feel embarrassed and even angry that you are passed for a promotion. People’s response in such a situation is often to start complaining about the decision taken. Often they do not complain publicly but start building alliances against the newly promoted person. Rumors are spreading, negative evaluations of its work are given, a block to sabotage the person shows. And all that because the ego of the not chosen is harmed. Although grudging is an expected reaction, it is not the smartest move. The higher the grudge is, the less productive the environment becomes. And as less productive the environment becomes, the more toxic relationship grows.   

Support them 

We tend to win some battles in our lives and lose others. When losing a fight, most people start a negative campaign against the winner in the promotion area. No matter if this campaign is apparent or hidden, it exists. But life goes forward, and there is no time for the “next big battle” in a non-existing war. A smart move to win from the loss is to show full support for the person, won the new role. That is a sign for the outside world that you are a grown person with stable emotional status and can adapt to a changed reality, no matter if this reality is yours or other’s one. Demonstrating support to the chosen person has a positive impact not only on him or her but also shows you in a new light. And who knows, maybe the next promotion, waiting behind the corner, will be for you.  

Make them look good 

When suffering from what we have lost when not promoted, we tend to become more cynical and search for ways to point on all mistakes the chosen person makes. It is a natural tendency for people and a defense mechanism that we have built to save our ego from burnout. This strategy often works initially, but then the person may put into practice his or her defense strategy. That will lead to a collision with no right end for both sides. Instead of making that mistake, you better focus on helping that person to succeed. Teaching him or her on what is essential and what you know from an expert perspective, offering help in new and challenging tasks, supporting his or her words in public meetings, by adding things that show you value their position and expertise and only part of the things that you can do. The support you give to the person also puts you in the light of the projectors and lets others see you in a supporter and people developer role. It also shows signs of your leadership behavior and maturity in relationships.   

Help them win 

Yes – this is right—all the things you plan or do have to be in the direction of helping the chosen person to win. Helping them win also helps you. It positions you in the light of the projectors as someone who helps others develop their talents. One more thing – it sets you as someone who places the whole group goals in front of their personal goals. And this is what makes people in senior roles prosperous land recognized as business drivers. Helping others win helps you develop as a professional and builds your image as a trusted advisor focused on achieving more significant results through people.  


Being passed from a promotion can elevate one’s feelings and actions in two different directions. You must decide what approach they will choose and how fast they will change the current situation from seeing it as a loss to making it a win.  

Now you only have to ask yourself, “Where I am at the moment?” and chose the winning path for yourself.  


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