What do you do when you feel rejected? Chances are, like me you try to analyze, “What did I say or do that caused this person the push me aside?”  Our bodies recall the emotions we feel whenever we sense rejection of any kind. We can even lose sleep over them. Whenever we feel loss at a deep level, such as when close friends no longer wish to communicate or we lose a loved one through sickness, divorce, or death, we actually feel sick inside.  We even get physical reactions over less serious matters, such as when a technician doesn’t show in time, business associates blow us off, or friends don’t respond to phone or texts.

What is our body trying to tell us in these moments? Sometimes the message is, “Cool it; let go; stop trying so hard.”  Or may be indicated a way someone is trying to tell us: “Go away and leave me alone.”

Well I’m not great at subtlety and maybe you’re not either.  You’d prefer a more direct message from people when they really don’t want you around.  So I’ve come up with a Four Strategies that will make us rejection-proof.  They will preserve our dignity, our personal and professional boundaries, and will avoid that sick feeling inside when we are in conflict with people who lead us on but really don’t want us around.

Situation: The Social Freeze
In 2004 Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo wrote He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys.  Any of us might be attracted to someone for social, professional, or romantic reasons.  We just want to get to know them better. I like to invite people to my home for dinner and conversation. Sounds like a nice, civilized evening, right? They tell me they’re happy to come over, but then come the excuses and delays. They promise to call back after checking with their spouse or their busy calendar. Then…nothing.
Strategy 1: I will reach out twice with invitations. After the second, “Oh yes I’d love to come, but…” I will communicate no more.  No reciprocation, no roasted chicken with garlic-cauliflower mash.  And certainly no chocolate cake!  Move on!

Situation:  The Professional Friend
Lots of people make a career of saying they want to help, but sometimes I meet a person with whom I have real synergy.  We spend hours sharing life stories and listening to each other’s personal or professional issues.  They may even suggest working together. They say they want to help promote my business. I enjoy collaborating in my coaching, so I generally feel enthusiastic about their invitation.
Strategy 2: This has happened to me enough times now that I am getting to be a veteran at feeling rejected by well-meaning but over-extended friends/colleagues.  What I need is an enthusiastic, positive reaction, a realization that I likely to do this project alone, and an expectation that if I value the friendship over the professional connection, I need to be detached from any outcome from collaboration.  Move on!

Situation: Close Friends Gone Astray
Life circumstances such as marriage, children, or relocation can change even the closest of friendships. I tend to foster relationships that last for decades, not weeks. I’ve recently been grieving over a close friend who started making multiple and overly coincidental excuses whenever I called. It really hurts!
Strategy 3: “Wake up and smell the coffee!”  This person clearly is trying to end a relationship that no longer serves their needs, but they don’t know how to tell me!  It doesn’t make any difference as to why; I just don’t fit into their life any more. It’s not my issue; I just need to grieve the loss.  Move on!

Situation:  Unprofessional Networking
Me: “I could really use your help; can you introduce me to someone who might assist me in my business?”
Him: “Of course I can, glad to help!  You should call <person>.  She’s well connected.  A real pro. Tell her I sent you.”
This has happened to me multiple times. I call my new contact and have an interview, complete with promises to work in the future, an assurance to call at a certain date, and an enthusiastic good-bye. The date for the call-back arrives and then crickets. No return call, email, text, or explanation. It’s as if I never met the person.
Strategy 4: “Stop wasting your time making such an effort!” It’s another opportunity to be detached from outcomes. I also need to be more realistic about relying on people who say they want to help me, but who can’t say no, or because I am not a good fit due to gender, style, or interests. Move on!

A belief I need to modify is that “If I treat others with care and respect, they’ll treat me the same.” I also need to focus on those who have been helpful, who do reciprocate the same level of kindness and generosity that I show.

Ultimately my first responsibility is to my own integrity and peace of mind.  I need to have clean conversations in both my personal and professional life, without guile, deceit, or game-playing. Virtues such as candor, honesty, concern, follow-up, and respect for everyone, no matter what their status, have to be at the top of my list. These are what make life enjoyable and insulate me from those physical manifestations of feeling rejected and victimized in our fast-paced and rather crazy world.  What strategies do you want to add to my four?
© Copyright Michael Parise 2017

Portions excerpted from Michael’s book: Life Interrupted, Taking Charge After Everything Has Changed
Since 1979 Michael has worked with individuals and groups to take full advantage interruptions and changes to balance responsibilities, simplify their lives, and find greater productivity and peace.
Want Michael to speak for your next event?  Or hire him as your personal executive Life Coach to improve your relationships at home and at work? Call 813-444-9641 or email: parisecoaching@gmail.com

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