20 Other Possible Reasons They Said No

An enlightening list applicable to rejection in love, work and elsewhere.

Posted Nov 10, 2015

The obvious possibilities (Just possibilities):

  1. You didn’t perform well.
  2. You’re a work in progress and need to make some more progress.

The less obvious but equally possible (a partial list):

  1. You smell just fine, just not to their noses. No accounting for taste.
  2. You’re not the right fit for the mission.
  3. Your name reminds them of someone they never liked.
  4. They were in a bad mood when you came up.
  5. You were great but someone hotter came along.
  6. You were scary talented and they dreaded being shown up.
  7. Some logistical detail made you not the best candidate.
  8. Some silent partner in the decision objected to you, who knows why?
  9. They’re subconsciously averse to people who look like you.
  10. They found someone cheaper.
  11. Though they say they want someone just like you, they don’t. They don’t know their own real criteria.
  12. They’re so busy convincing themselves that they want someone creative, edgy and “outside the box” that they don’t notice that what they really want is someone who will stay in the box. They sent the wrong signals and you responded to them.
  13. Just your luck, the last person who didn’t work out had a few traits like yours and from that bad experience they concluded that they should say no to those who have your particular traits.
  14. There were so many applicants that they were just overwhelmed. They sped through the applicants looking for reasons to say no, not yes.
  15. They love saying no. It makes them feel superior and discerning. Saying no to you was largely a way of maintaining their dream of being a superior buyer in a buyer’s market.
  16. They have some secret commitment (e.g. Scientology). If you knew what it was, you’d want nothing to do with them but since you don’t, you were rejected because you don’t share the commitment.
  17. Their priority is to offset some imbalance they perceive. You’re more of something they think they have too much of and less of something they think they need more of.
  18. Esoteric politics among the deciders, something you couldn’t foresee and that had nothing to do with you.
  19. Someone else came along and wooed them with unrealistic promises. They were gullible and will soon be disappointed.
  20. Though it’s hard to perceive yet, the world is changing in ways that increase supply and reduce demand for the very skills you have spent your life cultivating.

Are these alternative explanations just your self-rationalizing sour grapes? Possibly. Still, it’s worth keeping in mind how many factors go into decisions and how many of them have very little to do with you, or at least anything about you that you would want to change.

We regret rejections. It’s a good thing to do since we can often learn from them. Still, sometimes we over-regret, trying to squeeze more insight from a rejection than it can yield.

At some point, it becomes useful to reject more regretting, just say, “who knows why?” and move on. We can’t change ourselves very much or very rapidly, so we don’t want to be whipsawed by every rejection into some new campaign to be different from what we are.