When you helping them is counter productive…

Rejection is something that’s been coming up a LOT lately with clients and Academy members (and so maybe for you too?) Rejection can be a blindsiding yet inevitable part of the human experience. Thinking about how to get past it with more ease took me right back to my first job in London….


When I was an eager young sales exec working in newspapers in London, I was trained to ask prospective clients what were called “open-ended questions“. This technique would give me information on their business in order to fully understand their advertising needs and – da-dah! – sell them an ad.


Open-ended questions start with how, why, what, where, when. Stuff like “Where do your best customers come from? What was your most successful advertising campaign?” It’s the foundation technique for sales; start with open-ended questions then, as the conversation progresses, narrow it down towards a sale with closed questions which can only be answered with a yes/no response (hopefully), “Do you want an ad?” “Yes, I do“.

I had forgotten this gem of ancient sales wisdom until I had a run of clients who had all experienced some form of rejection – from the mummy mafia, a prospective business partner, a romantic interest and from course mates. They were all very upset, and really stuck in their upset. They just couldn’t figure it out. Why, why, why would someone treat them this way when all they had shown was kindness/friendship/shared business knowledge/love/support?


Over and over they turned it in their minds, wrestling with the rejection; the sudden cruel “didn’t see it coming” rejection. They were all very miserable indeed.


For some, the rejection had actually happened years and years ago, but yet it was still as fresh as yesterday because they still hadn’t figured out the “why“. Trying to figure out why it had become a habit of thought, why why why has this thing happened to me?


Here’s the thing. This endless questioning of the past “Why did he/they/she reject me when I didn’t do anything wrong? What did I do to be treated this way? How long will this rejection last?” etc, are all open-ended questions, but asking them of ourselves can only mean WE go round in circles.


There is no satisfactory answer because we don’t have it.


Asking these questions in our own mind endlessly compounds the question and just makes us miserable.


I have had my share of rejections, including one last year that just floored me. I could not believe that I was being rejected so comprehensively, having given and offered so much. I could barely sleep for the incessant turning it over in my mind.


However, that way madness lies. I call it Chasing The Why, and it can be a surefire route to misery.


Here’s the thing. We live in a society where science and technology are king and every drama on TV eventually shows us whodunit.


We always get to figure out the why. Which is comforting and neat. But in real life, dealing with people, not machines, it’s just not so neat. Sometimes, you will never know why!



Sometimes we need to get over rejection by giving ourselves the closure that we will never know why, but just that it is.


We cannot access the why – it lives in someone else’s head – and they have not been willing to share it. That sucks, but it is what it is. We cannot pin our capacity to move beyond the rejection on someone else giving us closure.


Sometimes we need to accept we can be complete with the experience and move on WITHOUT knowing why it happened to us. The fact they have rejected us is enough: all on its own.


Maybe you have an old rejection that still hurts that you never got to the bottom of? Most of us do.


My best advice is to stop chasing the why. Be okay that you will never know the full story. Know it says a lot more about them than you. Hold your head high and stop looking back.

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