Rejection Without Shame

Rejection comes in a litany of flavors:

“We don’t have any conflicts here.”

“We deal with conflicts really well here.”

“We don’t really need your services right now, but if we do, we’ll give you a call.”

“[silence]. Who are you again?”

“How do you say your name?”

“I don’t understand how anybody can make money from doing what you do.”

“How do you monetize that?”

“Yeah, your rates are too high.”

“Yeah, your rates are too low.”

“I don’t understand what you are selling.”

“Why can’t you help me NOW?”

“Where did you get your degree again?”

“How do you make it here in this town?”

“Where are you from again?”

“Hmmmm. Ok. That sounds kind of interesting.” [Then wander off to get bread at the networking event ‘nosh’ table.]

“Have you tried working for a human resource company?”

“Have you tried working with [insert name of big company here]?”

“I don’t understand what you just said that you do.”

“There aren’t any people around here doing that are there?”

“Could you not charge me as much?”

“We’re strapped for cash right now and not really focused on retaining outside help right now.”

“Your rates are too high; you’ll never make a profit around here.”

“We are a family company. There aren’t any conflicts among family.”

“I handle conflict really well; I don’t see how I would use your services.”

“Have you tried working with lawyers around here?”

“We can’t pay you.”

“We’ll get back to you.”

“We can’t pay you.”

“Can you do this for free for us?”

“We can’t pay you.”

“Send us your information and we’ll look at it.” >click<

“I just don’t have time to talk to you, call back next week.” [Call back again next week]

“I just don’t have time to talk to you, call back next week.” >click<

“That sounds interesting, but I don’t want you to drive all the way to [name location 25 miles in any direction from locally] to meet me. It would just be a waste of your time.”

“You’ll never make a living doing that. You should get a ‘real’ job.”

“You went to college for CONFLICT!?”

“Why don’t you just volunteer?”

Very rarely have we ever heard “No,” “No thank you,” or “No this isn’t for us.”

Although ultimately, the fact is that all the forms of rejection really come down to such a consideration. All the forms of rejection can be given without personally attacking, trolling, tearing down individuals’ talent, and questioning people’s motives. But when rejection crosses the line from “No this isn’t for us” to “You don’t deserve to have a voice,” or “You need to be denied the ability to speak because I disagree with you,” then we’ve crossed over the line into another area.

And we must be careful with what lines we cross because sometimes, there is no going back.

Self-Select Out of the Pool

Here’s an idea:

When you hear an idea that doesn’t appeal to you, doesn’t interest you, or that doesn’t resonate with you, merely say (either internally to yourself or externally to the presenting party) “That’s not for me.”

Then add this other part on.

“And that’s ok.”

Then, either move on physically from the room or emotionally from the interaction.

This works better as a coping mechanism for handling ideas, concepts, and thoughts that we find to be personally repulsive, than engaging in feedback processes where you seek to destroy the other person’s sense of self-worth and seek to shame them into silence.

If it’s not for you, then stop wasting your time (and the other party’s) and self-select out of the pool of interaction.

Do this so that other people, for who the idea is appealing, can self-select into the pool.

This approach works better than staying in the pool of interaction, exercising the vain hope that the messaging underneath the interaction will resonate for you—or be relevant for you—at some point in time in the future, and at the end of the interaction, engaging in the politics of personal destruction via the use of weaponized negative feedback.

[Advice] How to Motivate Yourself

Conflicts arise (or get worse)—both internal and external—when motivation wanes.

Physician Heal Thyself

Because it is easier to do the wrong thing (sometimes the more convenient or expedient thing) than it is to do the right thing (sometimes the least convenient and hardest thing) in a conflict, many people revert to the apathy, avoidance, or accommodation.

Motivation is the driver for change and better responses to interpersonal conflicts, but one of the questions we get asked is “Well Jesan, all this interpersonal conflict tactics stuff is great, but what about getting people motivated to actually do it?”

We point out that the motivational speaker and author Zig Ziglar, often made the point that motivation—much like showering—doesn’t last. And that you have to renew your motivation every day, in the same way that you shower every day.

We would make three additions to that assertion as well:

Our lives must have meaning first in order for us to get motivated to confront the issues and concerns that cause conflicts, the relationships that are “suboptimal” and the situations that make us frustrated. In the field of student development, this is called agency.

Our personalities must be resilient, able to take disappointment, failure and not achieving our goals the first time around. When there is resilience, motivation matters less, because the mindset changes from “I need to be motivated before I can confront a conflict in my life” to “I am resilient and know  I can get through this conflict with this other person and that’s my motivation.”

Our lives must be well balanced in all five areas of wellbeing: social, career, physical, financial and community. That balance means more than just a few percentage points of feeling good here balanced against a few percentage points of feeling bad there. Without well-balanced lives, a lack of motivation to change leads to emotional apathy and physical lethargy.

Organizations, from family (the world’s first corporation) to churches, have a responsibility to acknowledge and support the balance of wellbeing, appropriate feedback, and encouragement in the form of appropriate recognition and reward, for individuals who search for meaning in their work, play, volunteerism and worship.

Being successful at this task requires the founders, funders, owners and even contributors to those organizations, to start examining their own motivations a little closer.

Or else conflicts, crises, confrontations and aggressive behaviors will continue to demotivate those who could potentially courageously be motivated to attain new meaning when conflicts arise.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: