Rejection is an incredibly sensitive subject and something we all face in our lives and whether you are the person being rejected or the one doing the rejecting, it can be traumatic. Rejection occurs within all areas of our life and work from relationships to redundancy to buying things and it can all have a profound effect on us.
Why is it that some people bounce back easily from being rejected whilst others are crushed?
In the old days, if you were rejected from your tribe or village, it was a matter of survival. Today, the consequences of rejection are seldom as serious but it doesn’t stop some people go to amazing lengths to avoid it.
We all want to be accepted and how you react to rejection is closely linked to your self esteem. If you are confident, although you may feel hurt at the time, you can rationalise the situation and move on. If you suffer with low self esteem, the rejection can haunt you for weeks, months, years and even decades where you keep going over and over it making you feel upset and stuck and making the rejector the villain in the situation.
Let’s consider rejection in a different way:
Think of it as a transaction where you are making an offer to someone and they are either taking you up on it or saying no to it. Before you make the offer, think about the consequences of being turned down – how will it feel? It isn’t good if you are the one making the offer and then you feel destroyed if it is not accepted. It will also put the person on the receiving end in a bad place and they can be demonised for their rejection.
Use rejection as feedback that you can learn from. If you consider it as an offer, it is not you personally being rejected, just what you are offering. Even in a situation where you are being rejected from a relationship, it is the relationship with you that is being rejected, not you as a unique individual.
Recognise if the situation is one that you have no control over. It doesn’t mean that in the long term everything will be bad, just that in that instance, it wasn’t within your power to influence.
One way you can avoid a direct rejection in some situations is to have a selection of options such as would you like to go for dinner, coffee or a walk – a friend may not be interested in the dinner but would love to take a walk with you.
What if you are the one doing the rejecting?
We all have to reject people and this can prove just as traumatic as when you are the one being rejected. If you are the one who is in the position of rejecting someone, think about how it will be received and how you can soften the blow.
Start the conversation by telling the other person something you appreciate or like about them. Also be aware that just because you are rejecting that particular offer, you may be interested in future offers from them. Just because you don’t want to go on a date with someone, it doesn’t mean you don’t want to meet them for a coffee in the future and value their friendship.
Another way to soften rejection is to give the other person a way out or a way to win such as I am not interested in this but if you were to offer that, then I would like to have a discussion about it.
Avoid using rejection as a weapon as this just leads to upset and lots of wasted energy in keeping up the anger or frustration.
With the Lightning Process, we occasionally have to say no to clients who apply to take the training with us as our experience tells us this is not the right time for them and it wouldn’t be appropriate. This rejection is difficult for us as practitioners as we want to help people but we have an ethical obligation and duty of care to our clients. We would never completely reject someone but instead we will work with them to help them to prepare for taking the training at a future date.
If you recognise that at this moment in time, you are not the best fit in whatever the situation, it will allow both of you to move on.
If the person you are rejecting can’t handle the truth, you could disarm the anger or upset by not telling them the whole story. Just enough to be clear and end the situation so they know where they stand. It is about keeping your integrity but also being selective, humble and gracious around their feelings and not giving them every last drop of feedback if it isn’t necessary.
Avoiding rejection of others
Avoiding rejecting people comes with its own complications. If you are someone who feels they have to say ‘yes’ to every offer you are made, you are not being fair to yourself and potentially allowing yourself to be taken advantage of. Often this is because you don’t want to make other people feel bad but life is about give and take.
If you find it difficult to say ‘no’, get comfortable with it and notice how much time and energy you free up for yourself. As a starting point, pause before agreeing to the next thing and check in with yourself as to whether it is something you want to do. You can always buy yourself some thinking time by saying you’ll get back to them with an answer.
The quickest way to stop feelings of rejection from hanging over you is to move on as quickly as possible.
If you find yourself replaying a rejection situation over and over again in your head, try this: instead of playing the memory as if you are reliving it, take yourself out of the conversation and watch it as an observer from the side or as if you were a fly on the wall. This will allow you to understand what went on from a different perspective and one where there is less emotional connection to the event. Then consider the situation and use it as feedback and learn from it and move on.
Talk about it to a trusted friend, vent it and get it out of your system but then STOP and start planning your next move in your life or work. Another way of getting it out of your system is to write it all down on paper and then ceremonially shred it or tear it up and throw it away as a symbolic way of ending it.
If you have any questions or would like to arrange a chat about how we can help you with rejection in your life, contact me or leave a comment below.