How do we gracefully and graciously handle rejection? How do you avoid falling into self-doubt or bitterness? How can you help or encourage others who have gone through rejection?
Ah, rejection: the great relationship equalizer. I have a high school friend who actually did marry her first boyfriend, so I guess not everyone has been rejected, but most of us have.
As usual, I was inspired to propose this topic by an article I read online. This one was at the always-reliable Verily, and it was literally about how to reject men with grace and charity. Much like our discussion of pursuit did, reading someone’s article turned me introspective and called to mind broader, related questions.
So, how do I think you should turn down an invitation for a date? The most important thing to remember is that asking someone on a date takes guts. It requires risking rejection. This gentleman (who earns such a designation by actually using the word “date”) has opened up his heart to you a tiny little bit. If you’re not interested, you want to decline graciously.
- Thank him for asking. Say something like, “Thank you for the invitation,” or “thanks for asking,” or “I’m flattered!” (Also, be flattered.)
- Be clear. Say “I’m not interested,” or “I think we should just be friends” (but only if you actually are friends already), or just “no thank you.” Use a neutral tone. Maybe a little bit on the positive side of neutral.
- Stop talking. If you’re responding to an email or text message, just send it. Don’t ramble. If you’re face-to-face, say an immediate but polite goodbye, and then leave. Do not apologize or try to comfort him.
Then there’s the other side. I wonder what was going on in the minds and hearts of the men I’ve turned down for dates. (It’s not a long list, but it’s more than zero.) There’s no way to hear “no” without being hurt. My hope is that we can establish a culture where there is more asking and less intensity so that there can be more yeses to counteract the increase in no’s.
That brings us to the pain. Rejection always involves pain. There’s no way around that. The Christian life demands sacrificial love and comes with suffering. Avoid gossip. Unless you rejected your former suitor for an “I fear for my life” kind of reason, you have no business publicizing your reasons for walking away. If you’re the one doing the rejecting, don’t rub it in. That’s just cruel. And finally, own your feelings. Feel your pain. Respond in love. Don’t let one rejection ruin hope forever.
How have you handled being rejected? What are your tips for saying no?
Next week’s topic: Rewind
Choose any previous NAS topic (there’s a list here) that you didn’t post about. Alternatively, revisit one of your previous NAS posts and examine how your thoughts have changed or been confirmed since then.
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