Reality Check: So What If I’m Rejected?

Self-evaluation in choice theory encourages us to honestly ask, “Is what I’m doing working well for me?” If things are going well, we would likely choose to continue. If they’re not, we might make a change. Does that seem like common sense?
It might sound straight-forward, but I imagine that you can think of cases where someone refuses to change what they’re doing even when things are going very badly. We can always find an excuse, and one compelling excuse is fear. We sometimes have a legitimate fear of being embarrassed or rejected, as in the following situation.
When Karen’s workplace moved her to a different department, the move came with new responsibilities and a new boss, Sam.
Diligent as always, Karen does her best to adapt. It’s difficult, though. Sam is arrogant, patronizing, abrupt. He never offers recognition or appreciation, only criticism. Karen’s not sure that Sam even knows her name.
Work is no longer the warm, supportive place where Karen had thrived. Despite her discouragement, Karen carries on in her thorough and responsible way.
Then Sam added another task for Karen; it requires mastering a new, complicated system. There’s little information and Sam is apparently the only person who understands it. With the deadline rapidly approaching, Karen feels panic threatening to take over.
What to do? No one else can help. Despite hours at home scouring books and Youtube and anything she can find, Karen cannot do what she needs to do. It’s a disaster.
With the deadline looming, Karen self-evaluated and knew that she needed to do something different. She mustered her courage and sent an honest email to Sam entitled, “I’m feeling defeated.” She summarized what she had done and expressed her concern that the project was off-track. Then she asked for Sam’s help.
How do you think Sam responded?
There are essentially two directions that Sam could take. If he is truly arrogant, he could reject Karen’s call for help and criticize her for not being up to the challenge.
Or, Sam could provide information, encouragement, and get Karen back on track.
When we make a request, we don’t know what response we’ll get. Maybe it will be positive and exceed our expectations. Maybe it will be crushing, to “put us in our place.” Or maybe it will be a non-response that just prolongs the agony.
What actually happened? Sam responded with, “When I saw Karen was feeling defeated, I knew I had to reply right away.”
Really? Sam knew her name! Who knew? Turns out that Karen’s diligent work had made a positive impression on Sam. He just didn’t show it.
Ultimately, Sam did help get Karen back on track. Even more helpful is Karen’s newfound recognition that they can have a positive relationship. Previously, Karen perceived any comment by Sam as disapproval. Now, she can hear the same words differently—not as criticisms but just Sam’s blunt style.
Although I’ve changed the details, this was a real situation with real results. I am grateful for the permission that I’ve been given share it with you.
Is it always worth reaching out? There’s no one right answer—that’s why self-evaluation is so effective. You assess; you decide. One encouragement I’ll offer is when you evaluate a troubling situation, ask, “Am I allowing fear of rejection to control me?”
What do you think?

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