On the flip side, being the rejecter can bruise one’s self just as easily as being rejected.
While some people can dish out rejection with nary a bat of an eyelid…
…less heartless people find it to be quite difficult.
Another Lame Example
In October of 2013, I held a paying short story contest for my not-so-annual annual online Halloween writing extravaganza, Halloween Spooktacular. When I put out the call for submissions, I explicitly mentioned I’d be blunt and honest and if an entrant couldn’t handle that, they didn’t need to submit their work.
Just over a dozen people submitted to the contest, and I had the gut-wrenching task of deeming only one a winner. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t enjoy being cold-hearted. Sweat drenched the palms of my hands, my armpits, and my ball sack whenever I had to send another dreadful rejection email.
One of the entrants had a splendid story, but it just didn’t fit the darker theme I was looking for. It also contained a few plot holes. First, I pointed out the issues and suggested ways to correct them. Then I lauded the positive aspects of the story and offered a few resources for her to hone her craft.
This person responded with, “A simple you did not win would have sufficed. But thank you for making me feel like crap about the one story i was actually proud of.”
My stomach churned. I didn’t want to respond in anger, so I gently reminded this person the rules clearly stated I’d comment on all rejections and offer honest feedback. I also pointed out all the wonderful free advice I’d bequeathed upon her.
She then replied, “screw you.”
Another entrant made it into the top 3, but his story ultimately wasn’t picked. I offered the same type of blunt feedback and criticism, and we are still friends to this day. In fact, this other participant has asked me numerous times for assistance in polishing their submissions, and has even broken into several paying markets.
Though I disliked having to be the evil editor, I did enjoy sharing knowledge and offering advice for other promising authors to break into print. And in the end, I still felt like I’d been fair and transparent in my assessments.
So how can you dish out rejection without feeling like Fuckeveryone Scrooge?
Rules of Engagement
- Don’t make it personal. Even if an interviewee’s primary downfall was the pungent odor of cat piss wafting off their body while you prattled off questions in your tiny enclosed office, you should apply the reasons of rejection directly to the situation at hand and avoid tearing down Cat Piss Lady on a personal level.
- Use constructive criticism. Don’t slather it on without regard. You have to be gentle. People today have been so sissified, they make this guy look evil:
Whenever possible, offer constructive criticism. This process is simple: You point out the reasons behind the rejection, then offer suggestions to correct them, and end on a positive note (mention what they did well, what their redeeming qualities are, etc.).
Don’t drag it out. Don’t try to pile it on. Get in and out.
*insert sexual innuendo meme here*
- Offer examples. If the rejected wants more information or starts getting lippy, don’t revert to your pimpin’ days and backhand the insolent motherfucker. Instead, dig memories from your drug-addled brain and offer some examples pertaining to the situation. This allows the rejected to connect the dots and apply the feedback.
- Don’t retaliate. Billions of people out there haven’t read Part I of this rejection blog post and have no idea how to handle it without resorting to name-calling or physical aggression. If you want to walk away feeling slightly crappy but otherwise unscathed, don’t cave in and retaliate. If necessary, reiterate your case and move the fuck on.
- Be blunt and honest. This may contradict some of the other points mentioned above, but fuck it, I’m not an expert.
People will generally overreact to honest assessments, but, someday, they may thank you for being blunt.
For example, if Cat Piss Lady was fully qualified for the job, you might need to just grow a pair and tell her straight. I’ve managed to walk away from a handful of hygiene issues with the sweet, sweet smell of freshness emanating from the person the following day.
And if all else fails, just strap those dream-deflating boots back on and stomp the next poor bastard’s hopes into the ground.
The Art of Rejection
What have we learned about the art of rejection?
If you’re being rejected:
Use your experiences to gain some wisdom, apply your newfound knowledge and jump back into the fray (perseverance), and then wait patiently while destiny unfolds.
And if you find yourself in the horrid role of rejecter:
-Don’t make it personal.
– Use constructive criticism.
-Be blunt and honest.
Stay tuned. There’s more randomosity coming soon.