The fear of rejection isn’t psychological, it’s biological, it’s in our DNA

“Evolution has programmed us to feel rejection in our guts. This is how the tribe enforced obedience. Fear of rejection isn’t psychological, it’s biological, it’s in our cells”  Steven Pressfield.

The fear of rejection goes all the way back to our ancient roots. When we lived in tribes and survived as hunter-gatherers, the price of being rejected or being ostracised was equal to death. You could not survive without your tribe, the warmth and the protection of the fire.

Humans are also social animals which makes rejection all the more emotionally painful. Research also shows that rejection triggers the same brain pathways that are activated when we experience physical pain.

In recruitment, we have to handle a lot of rejection. It is the biggest issue we have to deal with every day, sometimes several times a day.

We spend a large part of our day cold calling companies and candidates. We are rejected over and over again but you have to be able to dust yourself off and try again.

Elvis Presley was told that he would make a better truck driver than a performer, JK Rowling was turned down by several publishers and told that the title for the book “Harry Potter and the Philosophers stone” was stupid.  Michael Jordan was dropped by his High School basketball team. Winners don’t give up.

We receive hundreds of applications and they are either  green flagged for yes please, Blue flagged for save for later or Red flagged for not suitable.

The backlash from the red flags always make an interesting read “I would have been your best employee ever” (applied for Oxfordshire, lives in the Philippines), “You’ve made a big mistake, good luck with your search”(no relevant experience for this role), “What a joke, I am more than qualified for this role” (but it is field sales and you do not drive)

At Ox Seven we want to be able to find a role for every applicant and we are one of the lucky agencies who work across a number of sectors so the chances are we may have a role for you if you send in your CV. And if not now, soon.

We all handle rejection in different ways in our office:

Newbie Steph – every rejection hurts. When a candidate lets her down or a client does not respond,  but she is learning and getting tougher everyday

Adam keeps it lighthearted by making a witty comment afterwards and makes us all giggle. Positive always.

Danny B the nicest cold caller in the world, so polite and courteous, how can anyone turn him down? Handles every rejection with dignity and charm

Dom – nothing phases him, he just keeps going. He misses, hits the bar a few times then scores – he’s a PRO

Me – I like a challenge. It’s not a NO, its just not now. I never give up.

OX Seven’s top 7 tips for managing rejection:

1. We do not take it personally

2. We talk to each about our let downs – it helps

3. We make a cuppa and have a biscuit (we have a large selection to choose from)

4. We have thick skins

5. We hit target despite all the rejections

6. We keep a positive mind set

7. We dust ourselves off and try again


Veronica Winter

Health & Wellness Consultant

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