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How To Reject Rejection And Move On

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How To Reject Rejection And Move On

An enlightening list applicable to rejection in love, work and elsewhere.

The obvious possibilities (Just possibilities):

  1. You didn’t perform well.
  2. You’re a work in progress and need to make some more progress.

The less obvious but equally possible (a partial list):

  1. You smell just fine, just not to their noses. No accounting for taste.
  2. You’re not the right fit for the mission.
  3. Your name reminds them of someone they never liked.
  4. They were in a bad mood when you came up.
  5. You were great but someone hotter came along.
  6. You were scary talented and they dreaded being shown up.
  7. Some logistical detail made you not the best candidate.
  8. Some silent partner in the decision objected to you, who knows why?
  9. They’re subconsciously averse to people who look like you.
  10. They found someone cheaper.
  11. Though they say they want someone just like you, they don’t. They don’t know their own real criteria.
  12. They’re so busy convincing themselves that they want someone creative, edgy and “outside the box” that they don’t notice that what they really want is someone who will stay in the box. They sent the wrong signals and you responded to them.
  13. Just your luck, the last person who didn’t work out had a few traits like yours and from that bad experience they concluded that they should say no to those who have your particular traits.
  14. There were so many applicants that they were just overwhelmed. They sped through the applicants looking for reasons to say no, not yes.
  15. They love saying no. It makes them feel superior and discerning. Saying no to you was largely a way of maintaining their dream of being a superior buyer in a buyer’s market.
  16. They have some secret commitment (e.g. Scientology). If you knew what it was, you’d want nothing to do with them but since you don’t, you were rejected because you don’t share the commitment.
  17. Their priority is to offset some imbalance they perceive. You’re more of something they think they have too much of and less of something they think they need more of.
  18. Esoteric politics among the deciders, something you couldn’t foresee and that had nothing to do with you.
  19. Someone else came along and wooed them with unrealistic promises. They weregullible and will soon be disappointed.
  20. Though it’s hard to perceive yet, the world is changing in ways that increase supply and reduce demand for the very skills you have spent your life cultivating.

Are these alternative explanations just your self-rationalizing sour grapes? Possibly. Still, it’s worth keeping in mind how many factors go into decisions and how many of them have very little to do with you, or at least anything about you that you would want to change.

We regret rejections. It’s a good thing to do since we can often learn from them. Still, sometimes we over-regret, trying to squeeze more insight from a rejection than it can yield.

At some point, it becomes useful to reject more regretting, just say, “who knows why?” and move on. We can’t change ourselves very much or very rapidly, so we don’t want to be whipsawed by every rejection into some new campaign to be different from what we are.

[Jeremy Sherman]

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Vital stats: Berkeley, 57, partnered, three children (M34, M28, F24), married once for 17 years. Educationally: Ph.D. in evolutionary theory, masters in public policy Vocationally: MBA professor of strategic foresight, business consultant and communications trainer, academic researcher. Historically: I've taught over 250k college-student/hours in psychology, sociology, rhetoric, philosophy, advertising, economics, history, English, cultural studies, marketing and strategy. I founded a non-profit environmental lobbying organization in DC, worked as a business consultant and public affairs director for large companies, ran a foundation, designed and implemented water projects in Guatemala. For seven years I lived on the world's largest hippie commune, and was an elected elder there at 24. Authority: None. I never refer to myself as an expert in anything, but rather a specialist in those questions that interest me (see below). I write with no authority. I read lots but cite rarely in my articles which should be read as opinion pieces, not declaration of scientifically proven fact. I will not pull rank on readers: My ideas are only worth considering only if they're based on good reasoning. I change my ideas over time. Caveat emptor. They say "don't believe everything you think. I'll go one further: I don't believe everything I write, in that for every argument I make, I aim to be able to express convincingly the counterargument. I try to live by the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote: "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." Self-expressively: I've written over 600 articles for Psychology Today, coined over 400 psychology neologisms. I write songs and limericks. I play bass and sing in jazz, Latin, funk, and Nigerian groups three nights a week. Intellectually, yet intimately, my middle-age spread spans several life-sized questions. * Most cosmically, how did mattering emerge from matter?, life from non-life? mind from chemistry? economics from physics? information from energy, questions I address as a member of a 16 year research project with UC Berkeley scientist Terrence Deacon. * More practically, though not unrelated, how do and how should we shop among interpretations, deciding what's significant and how to respond to what life deals us? * Also practically and related, what is a butthead other than someone we butt heads with? since in a free society we should define morals negatively--not what you should, but what you shouldn't do. We say "don't be a butthead," but define buttheads subjectively as people we butt heads with. I seek a more objective distinction between what's morally in and out of bounds. * How do and should we balance the ambigamist's tensions and what is the underlying structure of such tensions? For this I use the Serenity Prayer as a template, and think about levels of analysis (going meta). I've written five books, only one published but the rest out soon one way or another. Negotiate with yourself and win: Doubt management for people who can hear themselves think. Purpose: A natural history Doubt: A user's guide; a natural history Mind readers dictionary: Terms for reading between the lines with greater comprehension. Executive UFO: A field guide to unidentified flying objectives in the workplace.

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