Do you like me? Yes, No or Maybe (circle one)

I really wish I was less of a thinking man and more of a fool not afraid of rejection. - Billy Joel

There is nothing quite like the sting of rejection.  The kind of lesson I learned early on when I passed a note (my day's version of a text message) to my friend who then passed it to the girl I had a crush on.  "Do you like me?" Accompanied by three boxes with the words, Yes, No, and Maybe written next to them.  The rush I felt when I got the note back was unbearable.  I opened the carefully folded note and BOOM....a big check next to NO!  But it had a hand written note, "But we can be friends!"

Ahhhhhhhh!  The torture!  I was constantly in the friend zone.  I listened to girls talk about my friends, their boyfriends, as the trusted and non-threatening (boy) friend.  "You're so easy to talk to Jeremy, I just love you!" I would hear time and time again.

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Rejection only changes when you get older.  The sting stays as painful.  For example, not getting the job you want.  There is nothing like putting yourself out there, in print, in an interview and only to have it end in a form letter about how the company has gone another way.

Or once you get the job, and worked the long hours, had a few wins and you manage to get the guts up to ask for the promotion, only to be told the company is on a hiring freeze due to economic conditions.  Your sails are deflated, and it feels just like you're sitting in third period English, reading that the love of your life wants to be friends.

For this reason, it is critical that we as leaders, managers and just plain human beings, be aware of the pain rejection causes.  There are far too many cases where people feel rejected and react violently.  Even though the  reason for rejection is in their best interest and benefit.  I once gave a tough review to an employee that resulted in a reaction, I had never planned for.  An angry call to HR.  The employee thought it was mean and overly personal.  I was shocked and caught off guard because in my mind there was plenty of good things woven in with the harsher points.   It's like when I got that  "NO" note.  It had a positive twist, the "...I would like to be friends" part of the note wasn't looked at positively at all.  I like most people, tend to focus on the bad.  We hate the bad but we constantly look for it!  The good old, "glass is half empty or half full trick."

So with this in mind, be aware of the message you're "actually" putting out.  Chances are you are communicating a very different message than you have intended.  When rejecting anyone for any reason, stop for a minute and think how this may be perceived and reacted to.  It may just save your job, company or life!

Thank you for reading!

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