How to reject someone kindly
There's no way around it: rejection is extremely painful. But it's also part of life. Whether your significant other breaks your heart, you don't get the job or into the school or program that you'd dreamt of, a family member lets you down, or a friendship falls apart, there is a certain type of grieving that comes with rejection. It's universal. These kinds of conversations are never easy and can often be more than a bit uncomfortable, but that's just a part of it. As Josh Klapow, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and host of The Web radio show told me, "You have to be willing, if you want to reject somebody in a humane way, to be with them while they're uncomfortable and you're uncomfortable. And if you can't handle that, you're not ready to reject them in a humane way."
Of course most people, when rejecting others, want to do so in a way that's as kind and gentle as possible. You don't want to crush the other person, leaving them feeling broken or devastated. It's tricky. Luckily, there are some tricks that can help you let someone down or disappoint them while still being, as Klapow called it, humane. Rejection and rejecting happen, but they don't have to leave you—or others—feeling quite so down in the dumps. In fact, it can actually be a positive experience, as Susan Bartell, PsyD, psychologist and author told me.
"[T]he reason it can be transformative is because sometimes when you are rejected from something you thought you wanted, it forces you to take further steps to look for the next thing that you might want, whether it's a job or relationship or whatever it is, and you might discover that, in pushing yourself beyond what you thought you wanted or beyond what you didn't get that you end up in a better place," Bartell said. "And that that rejection actually makes you think about yourself. [I]n the end, it can kind of push you to takes steps you may not have taken that ultimately are much better steps for you."
Incorporating these eight tips the next time you have to do the rejecting can make the experience kinder for everyone.