Dealing with Rejection

by Dan on September 27, 2009

I think the fear of rejection just might take the cake for being both mankind’s most common and most illogical fear.

Think about it. You never really ever lose anything by being rejected.  If your promotion request doesn’t get approved, you don’t get demoted.  If your request for a date is turned down, you don’t lose the dates you already had scheduled that week (usually none anyway).

However, this fear is so common and biologically ingrained inside our heads that it’s something worth addressing here.  I’ll tell you a little story from last night which should help.

I was out with some friends at the W Hotel Lounge.  We were sitting back, having a couple beers, when my buddy Joe looked at a couple blondes on the other side of the lounge and said they were his type.  I suggested we go talk to them, and he agreed.

We went up, and they were in the middle of a conversation.  I’ve found that if two women would rather keep talking to each other than engage a total stranger, they’ll usually let you know, so I didn’t have a problem interrupting to say hi.

I said, “Hey, how’s your night going?”

One of them turned around completely to face me and said “Great! How are you?”

The other girl looked at us quickly and then turned back to her friend and continued talking, as if we weren’t there.  The girl who had been friendly to us turned back to her friend, and it was clear this wasn’t going anywhere..

I nodded to my friend for us to return to our seats.  I told the girls it was a nice meeting them, and the girl who’d blown us off turned completely to us and said “Nice meeting you too,” as a sunbeam of cordiality burst through the clouds of contempt.

When we got back to our seats, I turned to Joe and said, “Now I have my own view of what happened over there.  You tell me what you think happened first, and I’ll share what I think.”

Joe said, “Well those girls were very rude.  They must be real bitches to treat us that way.  We only said hi.”

I told him I saw things a little differently.

First of all, we could easily be seen as the rude ones, interrupting a conversation without so much of an “excuse me,” and expecting the women to completely drop what they’re doing.

Second of all, if you get down to the bare facts of the matter, we had a woman who decided that she didn’t want to talk to us at the moment, for whatever reason.  She could have disliked him, disliked me, or been in a serious enough relationship where she had no interest in talking to new men.

Next to her, we had another woman who didn’t protest publicly against the horror of her friend ignoring two strangers who came up to interrupt their conversation.

As you might expect, I wasn’t too bothered by these events, nor did I attach much meaning to them.

In terms of approaching someone of the opposite sex out of the blue, I can sometimes compare so-called “rude” responses to what I experienced when I was working in telemarketing.

I was often amazed how, at the job, some people I called would be friendly, and others would be screaming as soon as they picked up the phone.

After a couple weeks of this, I realized something.

The people who were the most angry picking up a telemarketer’s call were people who’d received multiple calls that day already, sometimes within the same hour.  I don’t care how centered you are.  If you’re getting sales calls during dinner time every day for a week, you’re going to handle call #117 very different from call #1.

I think when women get approached a lot, they switch from a priority of politeness to a priority of efficiency.  At some point of a conversation, maybe even the first half second, a woman can come to the conclusion of, “I don’t see this going anywhere.”

At this point, the woman has three options:

1)    Let the guy talk until he leaves.
2)    Politely tell the guy that she is not interested and would prefer he left.
3)    Either ignore him, or be so rude that he leaves out of anger.

There are cons to all three of these, but #3 is by far the most efficient.  If a woman lets a guy chat her up until he gets the hint (#1), it could take literally hours, if the guy is very dense.

If a woman choosing #2 is too polite, a guy still will often not get the hint.  Even worse, he might try to try to overcome her objections and keep trying to win her over.  This can make an already awkward situation much more difficult.

What’s more, it doesn’t actually make the guy feel any better a lot of the time.  What feels worse, getting blown off by a cold hateful bitch or getting rejected by a kind, sweet angel?  If the woman plays the hateful bitch role, then the guy knows he’s not missing anything by not getting to know her better.  If she’s super nice, he will often assume that the problem lies only in him and not her.

If I can give a more universal example, consider how you act around a homeless person asking for change.  When I first moved to a more urban area, I was not used to vagrants begging for money.  The first couple times I got asked for money, I either apologized for not being able to give, or even made up an excuse.

Later on, I just shook my head and walked on.  Now, I might not even acknowledge they exist.  This isn’t me seeing them as lesser people.  It’s simply an efficiency mechanism.  We don’t have enough time and energy to give a detailed explanation to everyone who wants something of us.

For men, I suggest you never take any rejection personally.  You seriously have no idea what was on the women’s minds at the time, or what kind of day, or week, or lifetime they had leading up to them not wanting to talk to you.

For women, there is a both polite and clear way to get rid of a guy you’re not interested in.

All you have to do is let the guy talk a minute, then stick out your hand fof a handshake and say, “Well, it was nice meeting you, <guy’s name>.”

This is the universal ending of a conversation.  If the guy still doesn’t get the hint, you can add, “Me and my friend haven’t seen each other in a while, and just want to catch up.”

If THAT doesn’t work, you can switch into cold hard bitch mode, and he’ll stop wanting to hang out with you.  Simple enough.

–Dan

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