You’re Rejected and Don’t Know Why

How self-appraisal can be more valuable than a rejector's feedback.

Posted Sep 12, 2019

Pixabay, Public Domain
Source: Pixabay, Public Domain

You e-mail a request. Silence.

You ask someone out. The response? An unhelpful, “I don’t think we’re a good fit.”

You’re fired or your job application is rejected. You ask why and all you get is a vague answer like, “We decided to go in a different direction.”

And some people go through life largely rejected and rarely get any useful feedback as to why.

What to do?

You have no choice but to self-assess, and that may be for the best.

For each of the following, ask yourself, “What clues has the world given me on why they don’t like, are indifferent to, or like me?”  As or more important, also make a self-appraisal independent of how others have judged you. Then decide what if anything you want to change about yourself.

Feel free to define “others” as the person(s) closest to you, people who know you at least reasonably well, or the broader society.

Your intellect.  It’s tough to make yourself smarter. Usually, the best you can do is to behave in accord with your intelligence—Nothing makes an intelligent person roll their eyes more than someone whose confidence in their assertions exceeds their intelligence. Conversely, don’t dumb yourself down. Yes, that will satisfy insecure people but you should care less about pleasing them than about those who will respect you for your intelligence.

How would other people judge your intellect?

How would you judge your intellect?

Is there anything you want to do differently? If so, what?  For example, at work meetings, you might decide to be more assertive or less.

Your emotional self

While external events can make one happier or sadder, everyone has a set point: more or less upbeat, more or less volatile. Society claims to celebrate diversity but if a person deviates more than modestly from the norm, judgment and even ostracism is too likely. For example, the norm is to be mildly upbeat but not effusive or sad. If you’re too bubbly, you can be written off as a Pollyanna. If you're too serious, they’re likely to think, “S/he’s a downer.”

How would other people judge your emotional self?

How would you judge your emotional self?

Is there anything you want to do differently? If so, what? For example, while we can’t fully control our emotions, you might decide to display more emotion or less.

Your social style. As with our emotional self, when our behavior deviates even modestly from average, judgment and even ostracism often follow. Whether consciously or not, we all make choices on how much social opprobrium to accept in exchange for being our authentic self.

How would other people judge your social style?

How would you judge your social style?

Is there anything you want to do differently? If so, what?  For example, you might decide to reach out to more people or to fewer, to change something incremental or something foundational about the way you interact with people important to you, or to air more or fewer of your political views.

Your philosophy. We all live by one or more core philosophies of life, for example, that work is a priority versus work-life-balance versus play as much as possible. Another example is your degree of altruism, ranging from selfishness to great self-sacrifice to benefit others.

How do others judge your philosophy?

How do you judge your philosophy?

Is there anything you want to do differently? If so, what? For example, you might decide to be more generous, or less so, feeling that your kindness is too rarely reciprocated and worse, that it makes people take you for granted or even treat you as a doormat.

You and money. Some people are miserly, others profligate.

How do others judge your behavior regarding money?

How you judge your behavior regarding money?

Is there anything you want to do differently? If so, what? For example, you might decide, having been a saver for a long time, that it’s time to loosen the purse strings a bit.

A word to those who too rarely offer candid feedback

If you’re guilty of insufficiently giving honest feedback, remember that you're depriving people of an opportunity to grow. Yes, be tactful but recognize that benevolently derived, candid feedback about areas that can be improved is among the kinder gifts you can bestow.

I read this aloud on YouTube.