How to reject someone in the kindest way possible
- Rejecting someone can be really difficult to do, even if you're sure that it's the right thing to do.
- But there are a few things that you can do to soften the blow and make it easier on both you and the other person.
- Though you need to be prepared for them to react badly, if you treat them with kindness and compassion, that can go a long way.
Rejection isn't easy on anyone, whether you're the one being rejected or the one doing the rejecting. In order to get rejected, you have to put yourself out there, and learning that the other person doesn't feel the same way can make you feel deflated or even crushed. And if you're the one doing the rejecting, you know that you're responsible for making someone feel that way, which can make you feel quite guilty, even if you know that it's the right thing for you to do.
"It is always a good idea to communicate with others in a respectful and polite way," Emily Mendez, MS, EdS, an author and mental health expert, told INSIDER. "This same advice goes for when you are rejecting a date. Carefully set and protect your boundaries. Don't agree to a date with someone just because you don't want to hurt their feelings. Be respectful, but honour your own wants and needs."
It's also very important to be clear about what you want
Being straightforward and honest - but still kind - can help them understand that the rejection isn't just due to some personal flaw, but rather because going on a date with them or being in a relationship with them isn't in line with what you want.
"Be respectful, and explain yourself clearly," Dr Suzanne Wallach, PsyD, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, told INSIDER. "These tactics work because if you clearly explain how you feel, people usually won't argue with you, and they will hear you. It's when things get personal that these interactions go off the rails."
Insulting someone or blaming them isn't going to make things better, in fact, it could make them much, much worse. "Many people are uncomfortable, I think, with being real in these moments because it's painful and we humans don't really like to feel pain," Dr Sharon Saline, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist, told INSIDER. "So I think the main thing is to be able to say what you need to say clearly without blame or judgement or insults and talk about yourself."
Particularly if it's someone with whom you have some history or a relationship, you've known them a long time or have dated in the past, for instance, it's important to talk to them in person or on the phone. "I think it's really also important that you do it in person or even over the phone if you have to, but not by text or mail because you can't really take an emotional weather report from a text or an email," Saline said.
There's a lot that can be misconstrued or misunderstood when you're working with text or email, and since you want to be clear, in person or over the phone might be a better way to go.
Unfortunately, you can't always predict how the other person will react
That's part of what can make rejecting someone a nerve-wracking or complicated proposition. "Everybody has their own history with rejection and the rejection that you're doing in that moment will trigger that baggage that they're dragging along in their lives that you can't see. It's invisible, but it's there, and could foster a negative reaction," Saline said.
"And that reaction says so much more about the other person if you feel clean about your side of the street.
"So if you're kind and you're considerate, and you're clear, and the other person comes back at you with a very angry, nasty kind of comment or several comments and a bad tone, at that point what I think is appropriate is to say, 'I can see that I've upset you and I just think it's best if we separate,' and then take your leave."
If you're worried about how someone might react, taking a friend or family member along or making sure that you're in public might help a bit, but, unfortunately, there's only so much you can do to try to handle the situation as appropriately and compassionately as possible. Rejection is tough, to be sure, but being honest, clear, non-judgemental, and kind, above all else, might help you get through the situation the best that you can.
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