The pain of rejection

 
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Imagine you’re sitting in a waiting room with two strangers. One of them picks up a ball that’s sitting on a table. He tosses it to the other stranger. She tosses it to you. You smile and toss it back to the first person. This continues for a couple rounds. Then, instead of tossing it to you on your turn, the woman tosses it to the man. He tosses it back to her. They continue the game without you.

No big deal, right? It’s just a couple people you don’t even know throwing a ball in a waiting room. However, this was a real experiment researchers did to see the impact rejection on people. And what they found was this situation actually caused people a considerable amount of emotional pain. The hurt from the exclusion didn’t just stay with them either. When they were given the opportunity to blast white noise at an innocent person they didn’t know, they did so at louder levels and longer intervals than those not rejected.

The pain we feel from rejection makes sense. From an evolutionary standpoint, being a member of a tribe was important to our survival. The pain of rejection kept us from doing anything that might get us kicked out.

We forget just how much even the smallest rejections can impact how we work together. We face rejections daily - not included in a meeting, left out of a lunch with co-workers, not asked for our opinion on a decision, didn’t get the promotion. Big and small, rejections hit us hard. And when we hurt, it affects how we relate to those around us.

Being aware of how and when we feel rejected, and how to combat it can go a long way to improving the trust and relationships on our teams.


A Team Human Conversation

Fight workplace zombies in your organization and join Team Human! Gather a group of fellow workplace zombie hunters to discuss our most recent blog post. Use the questions below to kick start your conversation.

  1. When was the last time you felt rejected?

  2. How did it feel? How did it impact your actions and behaviours?

  3. How does rejection impact your team/organization? What can you do as a team/organization to lessen the harm it causes?

 
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