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T&M Tom articles and comment on Technology and Management. Bbite provides coaching, mentoring and business opportunity research for SMEs and into technology markets.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Rejecting Rejection

Breaking Down Rejection
For example, when rejecting behaviour occurs, individuals sometimes are led to believe and think, "I just got rejected. They didn't like me.". This already contains many distortions and inaccuracies. But, compounded with harsh rejecting behaviour from others, these self-thoughts may even include "I am a no-good, worthless person, etc.". The result is a very negative experience and perhaps a lasting poor self-image.
To help protect yourself against such negative and undeserved feelings, it can be helpful to counter the unfair cognitive distortions. To do so, keep the following in mind:
1) Each instance is unique and different. Whether one or several people have demonstrated rejecting behaviours towards your request, you cannot logically generalise to "everyone" or "always". Each time, place, and person is distinctive. What is true for one is not true for all. The next situation could be different. So, try not to overgeneralise. Stay hopeful. Keep an open mind.
2) Rejection is not your fault. Try not to personalise and take the blame. There are many reasons why someone can be disinterested and very few of them relate to you at all. This is even MORE true, in instances where the other person is needlessly abusive or shaming. That is clearly their issues, which they are trying to push onto you, and you are not responsible for causing. However, do stay open to civil explanations and respectful feedback.
3) Rejection says nothing about you as a person. This is where the phrase "I got rejected" is particularly troubling. "You" did not get rejected. The person saying no doesn't even know the essential "you". How could they reject it? You have not downloaded your personal life history into them. So, try not to label yourself based on one superficial interaction (or many). Be vigilant to not give anyone who doesn't really know you that much influence over your self-image.
Given all of that, a less self-blaming and distorted statement might be, "that individual person rejected the offer you proposed". Such a statement is more accurate (and more comfortable). It leaves open the facts that:
-          Others might like the offer, just because that person didn't.
-          That individual is responsible for the "rejecting" behaviour, not you.
There are many factors that may have contributed to their disinterest in the request that are not under your control or your responsibility. Most importantly - the interaction says NOTHING about you as a person. The "request" was declined...not "you".
You are entitled to make your request in a respectful and civil manner. But, you are not entitled to a "yes" response. Furthermore, you are responsible for respecting that choice.
Finally, while the choice of others does not say anything about you as a person, it can be a source of information about achieving your goals. Constructive feedback sometimes accompanies a decline (or an acceptance) of an offer. All experiences may contain information about how an offer or approach could be "refined".
Again though, the feedback and changes are about where, when, how, and with whom "the request" is made - NOT about your value as a person. This is like any other persuasive appeal. If an advertisement doesn't sell the product, that doesn't mean the product itself is bad. But, based on feedback, the advertisement could be modified to target the right people, at the right time, who are interested, with an appealing format. The product didn't change at all...only the advertisement.
So, show pride in your product but look for feedback that might help you optimise your "advertisement".
Experiences of rejection are not easy. Sometimes they can be made worse by the behaviour of others and how we even discuss it culturally. But, attending to how you are thinking about and internalising the experience can help alleviate negative personal feelings. Remember that "you" don't get rejected - it is the other person that simply declines a request. There are also many reasons out of your control why someone says "no". You are further not responsible or at fault for the choices of others (within legal limits). So, their choice is not an indicator of your character or self-worth. Rather, keep in mind that you are a good and worthwhile person, no matter what.

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