Learn to Accept Rejection

I’ve been sitting on this blog post for a few days to make sure that I have a clear head about it before I hit the “Publish” button because it has the chance to offend more than just a few people.

But I woke up this morning feeling good about it and after a few moments of reflection remembered that what I’m sharing is simply a part of life – rejection happens, get used to it.

The problem is that the internet and online culture can challenge our socially accepted norms of personal engagement – in fact, it has lowered the barrier of entry to start a conversation with others and many people have forgotten their manners as a result.

I have long-kept my direct email address public as well as have kept an “open door” policy to the entire internet at large – you can email me, send me a message via Facebook, and do anything you really like on Twitter to engage me directly. I promise to read everything but I don’t often have time to respond to everyone.

The vast majority of people know how to take this rejection just fine – they understand how busy I am and the responsibilities I have to my family first, my partners second, and then the internet last. Although those who have engaged with me know that I’m pretty darn available and I respond to nearly everything, even if it’s just a “one line” response.

I pride myself on my ability to manage this well (I’m not perfect, mind you) and the “brand” that I’ve created around my ability to be open and accessible. But there are some people who need a serious kick in the pants and who need to learn very quickly how to accept rejection, especially, especially, if you’re soliciting me for something.

I had a gentleman via Facebook send me the following message which I’ve captured for your reading and context – I have removed his information but I personally hope that person reads this and takes this as an opportunity to learn a very important lesson:

As you have read there are a couple glaring issues that I need to call out and some suggestions for improvement:

  1. He started off great, asking me if this was the “real” account. Unfortunately, if he had done some research and really knew what I was about he would never have asked this. I have repeated time and time again that I don’t hire anyone to manage my accounts – I do that all myself.
  2. In addition, never seek to waste someone’s time with back and forth engagement. Just ask the darn question in the same first initial contact. Be brief, be concise, and be explicit. Don’t be long-winded. We all have stuff to do.
  3. If you’re soliciting, that’s fine, but you need to know what that person is really about. If this person had done his research he would have known that I have never accepted a paid link on my blog. In fact, I find this completely out of line with best practices! I also can get in trouble.
  4. Next, I responded that I wasn’t interested. I wasn’t a jerk about it, I just said that I wasn’t interested. If I was interested I would have suggested another price – this is where things started to go down hill.
  5. His next response about how I essentially missed a “lifetime opportunity” is ridiculous. I’d like to rant here but I won’t.
  6. It continues to get worse now saying that I’ve wasted his time. I couldn’t believe it. I’ll admit that my final message here was probably not necessary but I felt compelled, at the moment, to say something. I wasn’t sure if it would do any good but I responded anyway.

I thought that would be the end of it but he gave me one last response which really set the stage for this blog post:

I had nothing to say and closed the conversation, never to return to it. In fact, as a fallout, I have put this person on my personal “ignore” list so I can maintain my boundaries and keep focused on what’s more important. It’s unfortunate that this person has lost the opportunity to do business with me but he’s most likely not that concerned.

We all need a few good reminders now and then to make sure that we’re engaging fairly and justly with others – that we’re providing common courtesy to those that want to use our valuable time. But the great lesson here for all of us (including myself) is to learn to handle and accept rejection and to not take it so personally.

This is a part of life – this is what life is about! You don’t quit or stop because one person said “No” and you shouldn’t base your entire self-worth or value on just one single point of contact. Just move on, get with it, and accept it.

I’m not a fan of doing things like this but I hope it serves as a simple reminder to provide value to others, be courteous, and be respectful of other people’s time – it’s their most valuable asset and most limited resource! Don’t waste it!

[Image via Creative Commons, dawolf.]