Rejection ranks among the most potent and distressing events that people can experience. Rejection in a romantic relationship, ostracism, stigmatization and job termination, all have the power to inhibit the quality of a person’s life.
Fear of rejection is the irrational fear that others will not accept me for who I am, what I believe and how I act. Over time, if unchecked, a fear of rejection can lead to feelings of failure, worthlessness and depression.
People are highly motivated to avoid social rejection, and this can become a driving force for all actions in their lives, starting very young. It plays a part in their choices concerning their education, careers, work behavior, achievement level, interpersonal and marital relationships, family and community life, and the ways in which they spend leisure time.
The problem is that as an employer, if your people are driven by fear, you may get adequate results from them, but you will not be getting their best. Being driven by any fear limits a person’s capacity for creativity and inspiration, and does not allow them to display their natural strengths and talents as they are spending so much energy trying not to be rejected.
And worst of all, they are probably unaware that they are trying to avoid rejection – people rarely even know that they are doing it.
People suffering with a fear of rejection are driven by the need for acceptance, and will give up their own identity, or sense of self, in the process. They mimic the ways in which others act, dress, talk, think, believe, and function. They crave recognition and acceptance from the reference group with whom they want to be identified.
I have seen this behaviour in large organizations, where employees at all levels can try so hard to be ‘a member of the club’, play by the rules, emulate their bosses, or behave perfectly, so that no one can ever find fault with them and ultimately reject them from the organization. In my experience, people like this operate at a level far from their best and lose their core essence – a sense of ‘who they are and where they are going’ – so deeply have they become ingrained in trying to ‘do the right thing’ or ‘fit in’. It is sad to see natural talent being underutilized in this way.
Here are 20 symptoms people who fear rejection can display:
- Rebel away from, or ‘toady up’ to authority
- Little or no assertiveness – do not voice their own opinions easily to others
- They go out of, and do not initiate communication
- Seek approval
- Hide behind a mask( pretend to be someone that you are not, in order to be accepted)
- Reject and judge (as inadequate) others
- Being alert to whether someone is going to reject or accept them
- Try to fit in and do what they think is expected, even if it disagrees with them
- Unable to receive constructive criticism
- Have self pity or victimhood
- Become so obsessed with functioning, looking, and acting in a ‘prescribed’ manner that they become rigid and inflexible
- Have a feeling of not fitting in
- Opinionated personality and the need to always be right about things
- Tendency for excessive control, or micro management
- Feel worthless, shameful, insecure and hopeless in their darkest hours
- Fear confrontation
- Appear to lack honesty, integrity, and ‘spine’
- Make themselves so quiet and unseen as to almost disappear
- Tendency to ‘fix’ everyone else’s problems
So, have a look at the people you work with. Are they displaying any of these symptoms? Have a look at yourself – are you?
Issues of fear of rejection, and other limiting beliefs, can often be dealt with very effectively through coaching. The end result is often a person who is no longer ruled by fears, is confident and able to give their best in any situation.
Do contact me if you would like to explore this further for yourself or a colleague.