Causes of rejection

Understanding Rejection |

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Rejection, and the fear of being rejected, ranks among the most potent and distressing of every day events that people experience.  

Understanding Rejection

Emotional rejection is the feeling a person experiences when disappointed about not achieving something desired. It is commonly experienced in a quest of emotional relations, such as among romantic couples, in social and group settings, or in the professional world in relation to advancement.

Interpersonal rejection ranks among the most potent and distressing events that people experience. Rejection by a loved one, a romantic relationship, ostracism, stigmatization, job termination, and other kinds of rejections have the power to compromise the quality of a person's life. As a result, people are highly motivated to avoid social rejection, and, indeed, much of human behavior appears to be designed to avoid such experiences.

The act of rejection can make the person experiencing it undergo a sudden drop in positive emotion. This is displayed as something ranging from a vague disappointment, sadness, and depression, to anxiety, phobic behavior, or even stalking or forcibly abducting the rejecting person.

When an act of physical violence is thrust upon a person, the first reaction is to protect your self. The hands go up and cover the face or vital areas; the upper body leans away in order to retreat from the pain that is being inflected. It is almost as if there is a force pulling the body away from the impending danger.

When we are hurt emotionally the same reaction occurs internally; our mental and emotional states are looking to move away from the hurtful person or situation, just as a person under attack. These are responses of defense and the subconscious mind does not differentiate between physical and emotional pain, as both can hurt us. If someone insults you or behaves in a way that violates your personal emotional boundaries, the feeling of hurt may be appropriate. When we experience enough situations of hurt, we feel we have to protect our self from further hurt. This is neither wrong or right, it is a matter of whether the response suites your needs.

The desire for acceptance, the opposite of rejection, is a driving force that keeps many people from being an authentic human being. They are so driven by the need for acceptance of others that they lose their own identity in the process. They mimic the ways in which others act, dress, talk, think, believe, and function. Acceptance is the underlying process in the power of peer pressure and is what causes young people and older people alike to fixate on pop-culture, counter culture, punk, new wave, preppie, yuppie, and other styles. They crave recognition and acceptance from the reference group with whom they want to be identified. 

People who operate out of a fear of rejection often display little or no assertiveness, they do not speak up and let others know how they feel about something, especially if their opinions differ.   They lack the courage to function differently from others, even when they don't enjoy the behavior in which they are involved. They will often keep their personal feelings hidden from others and too often from themselves. 

For too many people the fear of rejection and the desire for acceptance are the main motivating forces for all actions in their lives. It plays a part in their choices concerning their education, career direction, work behavior, achievement level, interpersonal and marital relationships, family and community life, and the ways in which they spend leisure time. The person who operates out of a fear of rejection all too often ends up pushing away the very friends, family, and helpers who care the most. The pulling away of these caring ones appears to be rejection, and the vicious cycle goes on with negative results.


The causes of fear of rejection can range from such things as having a physical condition that  the person believes makes them unattractive to others, being rejected as a child, or having been abandoned or unloved. The person may have had a traumatic experience of rejection that deeply scarred them, they may have never been exposed to healthy ways of dealing with conflict or disagreement, or they may lack a healthy self-concept, sense of self-worth or positive self-esteem.

But regardless of the cause, it can create real problems in the "here and now". Fear of rejection can lead to codependent, clingy, obsessive, jealous, or angry behavior in relationships. It can make you drive others away from you.  It can cause you to reject others to avoid being rejected yourself.  Overall a fear of rejection can result in a very damaging pattern of emotion and behavior that can cause real hurt to relationships and your enjoyment life in general.

Fear of rejection and the unhealthy behavior patterns that develop as a result of this fear are very responsive to psychotherapy and a wide variety of therapeutic approaches used by psychologists and other mental health professionals.

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Feeling Rejected All the Time? Psychological Causes and What to Do

When you are sensitive to rejection, you might start seeing it everywhere. This creates a cycle where you begin to feel rejected all the time.

Everyone feels rejected sometimes. In fact, your brain is wired to detect rejection as a way of “protecting” you from it. That said, some people are more prone to feeling rejected than others. This is known as having high rejection sensitivity.

Whether it’s a romantic breakup, an absent parent, or being left out of a social group, rejection hurts — and it can plant the seed of self-blame, ultimately hurting your mental health.

But what if most of your feelings of rejection are unwarranted? Sometimes, simply changing your perspective about a situation can help you through it.

Humans have a fundamental need to connect with others. Social belonging and support are critical for our well-being and physical health.

In fact, a brain imaging study from 2011 showed that social rejection activates similar brain areas as physical pain.

But often, our feelings of rejection are unfounded. This happens when we assume another person’s moods and behaviors are about us and we fail to consider other likely interpretations of what could be happening.

For instance, have you ever seen someone you know in public, waved at them, and they don’t wave back? Are you more likely to think, “They probably didn’t see me or recognize me,” or do you immediately think, “Oh no, what did I do wrong? Are they mad at me?”

And even if you resolve that they didn’t see you, you may still have an oddly painful feeling about the whole scenario.

A study from 2012 shows just how sensitive we are to whether others — even strangers — acknowledge us or not.

The research took place along a popular campus pathway. As passersbys approached, an experimenter did one of three things:

  • made eye contact with the person
  • made eye contact and smiled
  • looked right “through” the person

Then, a few seconds later, a second experimenter stopped the targeted passerby and asked, “Within the last minute, how disconnected do you feel from others?” The findings show that those who had received eye contact — with or without a smile — felt less disconnected.

This experiment reveals just how sensitive we are to the acknowledgment of others. It also shows how easily we can feel disconnected from others even when the other person’s behavior isn’t about us at all.

If you’re naturally sensitive and overly concerned with rejection, you may have a psychological trait known as rejection sensitivity. This means that your brain prioritizes detecting and quickly responding to any potential threats of rejection.

People with rejection sensitivity can develop maladaptive coping strategies — for instance, they may become hostile, socially withdrawn, or overly accommodating to protect themselves from rejection. It can make establishing and maintaining relationships feel overwhelming.

Rejection sensitivity is a trait found in several mental health conditions, including:

  • social anxiety disorder
  • avoidant personality disorder
  • borderline personality disorder

You might also be more prone to rejection sensitivity if you experienced rejection in childhood from family, friends, or children at school.

So, though it intends to keep us safe, rejection sensitivity has very unhelpful effects. It can lead to a self-perpetuating cycle of interpersonal problems and distress.

Psychotherapy can significantly help if you’re living with rejection sensitivity. Therapy can help you process and manage your feelings so they’re less overwhelming. It can also help you identify unhelpful thinking patterns and replace them with more realistic and helpful thoughts.

Rejection hurts, but there are ways to work with the pain. If you’re feeling rejected, consider these tips:

1. Practice acceptance

First, see if you can step back, take a deep breath, and work on accepting the situation that made you feel rejected. Before we can work through our feelings, we have to recognize them.

One way to do this is to write down what happened and how it made you feel. You can even write a “letter” to the person who you feel rejected by, even if you don’t intend to give it to them. This helps you get out your feelings and journaling can be a powerful therapeutic tool.

2. Recognize that the rejection might not be about you

It can help to try not to take rejection personally. There are likely many factors at play – the person who made you feel rejected may be having a difficult time, they may have read the situation in a different way than you, or you may simply want different things.

3. Consider that you may not be a good match for the person or situation

Breakups, losing an election, not making the team — these are often due to a mismatch in personalities, skills, or traits.

Imagine you’re a casting director, and you’ve got to choose between your two favorite actors for the leading role. You’d simply go with the one that best matches the character, even though the “rejected” actor has much to offer, too.

4. Reconsider your expectations

A good portion of the pain in rejection comes from unrealized hopes and dreams.

Let’s say you were eyeing a job promotion. You might start imagining how it would feel to have that role and how much the extra money could help you. When you build up a mental image of the benefits, you might feel a powerful loss if you don’t get it.

It can help to recognize that a lot of the pain is from not getting what you expected, rather than from the perceived rejection itself.

5. Respect others’ boundaries

As much as rejection hurts, trying to make another person change their mind is often ineffective and can cause more harm than good. If someone has set a personal boundary with you, it’s important to respect that — even if it hurts. Moving on is a form of self-respect that can help you gain more confidence.

6. Ask yourself if there’s a lesson to be learned

When you’re dealing with a painful social situation — whether a romantic breakup or exclusion from a group — try to ask yourself: “What is this situation/person trying to teach me? What can I learn from this?”

For instance, if someone ghosts you after two dates, you might it an opportunity to practice self-compassion and forgiveness.

If you’re highly sensitive with a strong fear of rejection, your brain may have wired itself to detect and “protect” you from rejection. The fear of rejection may lead to proactive anger, social withdrawal, or bending over backward for other people.

These behaviors can then result in a self-perpetuating cycle of rejection.

If this describes your situation, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. Therapy can help you work through difficult feelings and identify any harmful thought and behavior patterns that are perpetuating the rejection cycle.

Want to learn more about starting therapy? Psych Central’s How to Find Mental Health Support resource can help.

10 reasons for refusal to hire

A candidate comes to an interview and hears: “we decided not to open this vacancy yet”, “sorry, but there was an overlap and we already hired a person for this position” or completely indefinite “we are now busy and will call you later. These polite refusals often hide completely different reasons. A job seeker who was hoping for a job continues to search for a job without success.
However, if a specialist has to hear negative answers too often, it is better to stop for a while and analyze what is the real reason for the refusals. nine0004

The employer has the right to decide which employee the company needs, which employee will bring more benefit to the organization. At the same time, the refusal of employment, according to the Labor Code of the Russian Federation, must be justified. This is a social guarantee that ensures the principle of freedom of labor, reflected in the Labor Code and the Constitution of Russia.

An unjustified refusal is considered a refusal to hire a candidate because of the candidate’s race, skin color, origin, place of residence, nationality, language, official, social or property status, age, gender, etc. A justified refusal to hire is based on the business qualities of the applicant. This provision is not always observed, but both candidates should be aware of it in order to be able to defend their rights in case of obvious discrimination, and employers in order to prevent violations of the norms of the Labor Code. nine0008

Why did the employer refuse the job?
The reasons for refusal, despite the relevant provision of the Labor Code, are not always related to the business qualities of the employee. However, this does not mean that behind each wording one should look for the employer's personal motives or discrimination. It is very likely that business qualities became the reason that the employee did not fit the position. Moreover, most of them are among the common reasons for refusals in employment.

Why most candidates don't get phone calls after the interview? nine0019

1. Mismatch between the salary expectations of the applicant and the employer
Usually, a company has a certain budget for the salary of a specialist. If a candidate's financial requirements exceed this budget, they are likely to be denied a job. At present, according to experts from the Unity recruitment agency, many companies on the Russian labor market are ready to meet the needs of specialists in this matter. But these companies are ready to offer a higher salary only in special cases to those applicants whose high salary demands are justified. It is also not uncommon for an applicant to be rejected because of too low salary expectations or because of his willingness to work in a lower position than before. nine0008

2. Poor interview preparation, illiterate resume
An applicant who is poorly prepared for an interview often experiences self-doubt, cannot fully reveal his business qualities and show his best side. In addition, he, as a rule, does not have good information about the company in which he intends to work, so many questions cause him difficulties.
Before you go to the interview, you need to clearly identify your strengths and weaknesses, find out more information about the company that posted the vacancy, decide what qualities and skills will be most useful for this position. nine0008

3. Non-compliance of the applicant with the requirements of the vacancy
This may be a lack of qualifications and professional skills, and the absence of the necessary personal qualities of the candidate or their inadequacy for the position. Most often, the requirements for the candidate are specified in the vacancy announcement. The reason for the refusal may also be too high qualification of a specialist. If the vacancy does not involve career growth, it is clear to the employer that such an employee will not stay in the company for a long time.

4. Attempts to deceive an employer or bad references
Sometimes a candidate's attempts to present themselves in a good light go too far and backfire. False information on a resume is a risky way to get a job. Whenever a lie is discovered, in an interview or after hiring, it will become a stain on the reputation of a specialist, which is very difficult to get rid of. Bad references from a previous job can also irrevocably spoil the impression of the applicant. nine0008

5. Frequent job changes
If an applicant's work book shows that he has changed many jobs, this alarms recruiters and employers. Such candidates are reluctant to hire, as most often companies rely on long-term employment relationships and do not want to open a vacancy again in six months and look for an employee.

6. Untidy appearance
Careless dressing or inappropriate clothing for the situation. A sickly or tired look, bright makeup, untidiness - all this can serve as a reason for refusal, and not only for those positions where you need to constantly communicate with people and look presentable. nine0008

7. Personal perception
Personal perception often plays a big role in hiring and evaluating a candidate. Studies show that many employers are guided by the same criteria when choosing employees as when choosing friends or life partners. Therefore, personal rejection can be a reason for refusing employment.

8. Lack of punctuality
If a candidate is late for an interview, this indicates lack of concentration and inability to allocate his time. Correcting the first negative impression during a conversation can be very difficult. nine0008

9. Inability to adequately perceive criticism
The ability to calmly accept criticism, to see and admit one's mistakes indicate flexibility, development potential, the ability to learn and affect the ability to work in a team. If a candidate overreacts to criticism, this may be the reason for rejection.

10. Lack of motivation
The employer may refuse to hire if he sees that the candidate does not have clear goals, he does not understand very well why he needs this job and does not have career plans. Lack of motivation is an important factor that largely determines the effectiveness of an employee, so companies try to hire those who are focused on development and know what they want. nine0008

Author: Anna Shevchuk

when it is impossible and when it is possible

Experts note that the judicial practice of cases related to denial of employment is becoming tougher: in times of crisis, many are left without work, so the state tries to support citizens and save their jobs. Thus, in the latest review of the practice of considering cases by courts in disputes related to the conclusion of an employment contract, 8 out of 30 cases are devoted to refusals of candidates.

Tatyana Nechaeva, senior lawyer, suggests refreshing the memory of the main provisions from the law: when an applicant can be refused, and when a refusal would be unlawful.

According to article 64 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation "Guarantees when concluding an employment contract", the refusal must be justified and related to business qualities . Under them, the law means the following:

“The ability of an individual to perform a certain labor function, taking into account his professional qualifications (the presence of a certain profession, specialty, qualification), personal qualities (health status, the presence of a certain level of education, work experience in this specialty, in this industry)”, — Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation dated March 17, 2004 No. 2 “On the application by the courts of the Russian Federation of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation”. nine0008

Applicants for a position who do not have the business qualities necessary to fulfill their duties can be safely refused. This is also confirmed by judicial practice.

The applicant applied to the court, as he considered that the refusal to consider him for the position of "Head of the trading sector" was unreasonable. After checking by the court, it was found that the education and previous work experience of the specialist did not correspond to the job description for the position of "Head of the trade sector". The Court of First Instance, the Court of Appeal and the Judicial Collegium for Civil Cases unconditionally agreed that the applicant's professional and qualification characteristics did not meet the needs of the organization, and the plaintiff lost the case. nine0008

In addition, the applicant can be rejected if he does not meet other requirements dictated by the specifics of the job. Let's say you need an interpreter, but the person does not speak a foreign language. At the same time, each condition must be really mandatory for the performance of labor functions: you cannot ask a marketer for the skill of driving a truck.

In addition to business qualities, the law allows that an employer may refuse an applicant due to federal law provisions. For example:

  • Candidates under 16 years of age, if they are involved for more than 4-5 hours a day ( art. 63, 94 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation ). For candidates under the age of 18, there are restrictions on the nature of work and working conditions ( art. 94, 96, 265 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation, Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation of February 25, 2000 No. 163 ).
  • Women in certain types of heavy work and work with harmful or dangerous working conditions dangerous working conditions, which restrict the use of women's labor" ).
  • Applicants entering the civil service, in case of close relationship with another employee, if the work is related to the direct subordination or control of one of them to another. Also, a person who does not have the citizenship of the Russian Federation ( Federal Law of July 27, 2004 No. 79-FZ "On the State Civil Service of the Russian Federation", Article 16 ) does not have the right to enter the civil service.
  • Criminally liable for certain crimes for employment in the field of education, upbringing, development of minors ( Art. 331, 351.1 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation ).
  • Foreign citizens, if the organization does not have quotas for hiring foreign labor ( Federal Law No. 115-FZ of July 25, 2002 ).

There are a lot of additional requirements stipulated by the law. Therefore, to find out which specialists can be hired specifically for you, you should familiarize yourself with the full list of restrictions.

With everything else, you need to remember that the employment of an employee is a right of the organization, not an obligation. Labor legislation does not contain norms obliging to fill vacancies as soon as they arise. So, the company may refuse the applicant for other reasons:

  • A more suitable candidate has been found.
  • Impossibility to get acquainted with the resume of a specialist. A case from practice: a person applied for a vacancy, but did not send the HR manager a detailed resume and characteristics that the employer requested. The applicant decided that it was illegal. The court upheld the company because it did not have the opportunity to assess the business qualities of the applicant.
  • The position was closed. It also happens that the need for a specialist disappears or the company drastically reduces the budget for hiring. nine0106
  • An internal employee was transferred to the position. In large organizations, communication is often difficult, so information about the company's internal resources does not always reach the HR department in a timely manner.

Sometimes a situation arises when a person approaches a vacant position, but for subjective reasons, the employer does not want to hire this specialist. However, one careless response can lead the company to court.

Let us consider in detail the motives for which it is prohibited by law to refuse job seekers:

Refusal may be considered as discrimination in employment relations if it is not related to the applicant's business qualities: due to gender, age, appearance, place of residence, marital status, personal and religious beliefs of the applicant, and so on.

This list also includes restrictions on candidates based on property. Employers do not always know about him - they do not employ a driver if he does not have a personal car, or a repairman without his own tools. By law, the employer is obliged to provide the employee with everything he needs to perform work tasks. nine0008

Meanwhile, there are exceptions - you can make demands that fall into the list of discriminatory ones, but only if they are necessary to perform the job function . So, models and actors can be evaluated by appearance, age and gender, since a person with certain parameters is needed for the role.

There is a separate category of persons who are prohibited from refusing according to labor legislation:

  • Employees invited in writing to work in the order of transfer from another employer, within one month from the date of dismissal from their previous place of work (Article 64 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation) . This rule became especially relevant with Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation dated March 30, 2022 No. 511, which allowed companies that suspended their activities to temporarily transfer their employees to another organization. nine0106
  • People with disabilities who are sent for employment at the expense of the job quota (Article 16 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation, Article 13 of the Law of the Russian Federation dated April 19, 1991 No. 1032-1 "On Employment in the Russian Federation"). Moreover, the employer is obliged to provide suitable working conditions, taking into account the individual rehabilitation program for an employee with a disability. This is demonstrated by a case in which a disabled person of group II, having received a referral to a quota job in an employment center for the position of a stacker, was refused employment. The employer referred to the impossibility of creating a special workplace for him. The organization lost the case, as the employer is required by law to allocate and create special jobs for the disabled. nine0106
  • Women for reasons related to pregnancy or having children (Article 64 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation). It is quite difficult to prove this, but there are real litigations. While the future employee was going through the procedure for applying for the position of project manager, she underwent a medical examination, which revealed that she was pregnant. Immediately after receiving information about her pregnancy, the employer informed her about the impossibility of employment, and then about the temporary suspension of the admission of candidates. The court ruled that the refusal was discriminatory, since it was not related to her business qualities, but to the position of a woman. nine0106

The listed cases of refusal to applicants protected by the Labor Code of the Russian Federation are the most common. At the same time, the list of employees who cannot be refused is much wider.

Many employers are opposed to an employee combining employment in a company with other part-time jobs for various reasons: because of the risk of data leakage, fear that the employee will be inefficient, and so on. In the meantime, it is possible to combine several works according to the law ( of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation of December 30, 2001 No. 197-FZ, as amended of July 14, 2022 ), therefore, refusal to accept a vacant position on this basis will be unlawful.

For example, a girl was employed in one organization, and in another she worked as a part-time chief accountant. In connection with the dismissal from the main place of work, the employee asked the employer, for whom she worked part-time, to conclude an employment contract with her. But the director of the institution fired her and hired another employee. As a result, the employer was accused of discrimination in employment and violation of the constitutional right to work. nine0008

Companies often do not hire a specialist because he has not passed the security check. Since the conclusion of the security service about the potential reliability of the candidate does not apply to the business qualities of the employee, it is impossible to refuse on such a basis. But even here there is an exception: if it turns out that a person bought a diploma in transition, then the company has every reason to refuse on this basis.

If the applicant once did not pass the interview, but applied to the company again, then his assessment based on previous communication is illegal. As an example, the employer did not consider the candidate, referring to the results of the previous interview. Such a decision was considered unreasonable by the court, due to the fact that between the first and second appeals the applicant could have been trained and improved his business qualities, and the organization did not evaluate and violated the procedure. nine0008

Candidates may not see the difference between applying on a job site and being denied a job. However, posting an ad and receiving a resume on the service does not oblige employer to do anything. This is stated in the offer, which is signed by both the company and the applicant.

⇒ View the offer

Sometimes people really go to court to find out why their response was rejected on the job site, but the courts take the side of the employer. nine0008 “The applicant claimed that he had repeatedly responded to the company's vacancies on the website, but had not received any answers. Such indifference the applicant considered illegal. The judges, on the other hand, believe that legal consequences can arise only after a candidate applies for an employment contract with him, and sending a resume through a job search site cannot be considered as such an appeal.

Thus, it is not necessary to explain to everyone who responded to the job search service why it does not suit the organization. It is enough to send a general notice. If you still decide to argue the decision, make sure that the wording does not run counter to the law. nine0008

The Applicant has the right to send a written request to the company signed to find out the reason for the refusal. According to law , the employer has 7 working days to send a response letter with explanations , and this must also be done in writing .

Applicant's requests to justify a denial via email, messenger, or job site are void.

The response form is free, but the text must contain the reasons for the refusal. Check if the applicant received the letter on time, for this send it by registered mail with acknowledgment of receipt and description of attachment .

If the letter is not sent, the applicant will have the right to go to court, and the refusal to hire may be considered unreasonable. In addition to the requirements to declare the refusal illegal and the obligation to conclude an employment contract, the statement of claim may include a claim for compensation for material damage caused by the employer and compensation for moral damage. This right of the applicant is provided for by Part 4 of Art. 3 of the Labor Code of the Russian Federation. nine0236 Administrative
Warning or fine:
● from officials — from 1,000 to 5,000 rubles;
● with IP — from 1,000 to 5,000 rubles;
● from legal entities — from 30,000 to 50,000 rubles Article 5.27 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation Refusal to hire a pregnant woman or a woman with children under the age of 3 for these reasons 9023 6023 Criminal
● a fine of up to 200,000 rubles or in the amount of the salary or other income of the convicted person for a period of up to 18 months; nine0005 ● or mandatory work for a period of up to 360 hours Article 145 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation Refusal to accept the work of pre -retirement age by their pre -retirement age Criminal
00 or other income of the convicted person for a period of up to 18 months;
● or compulsory work for up to 360 hours Article 144. 1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation

, other noteworthy circumstances, as well as the requirements of reasonableness and fairness "under paragraph 63 of Resolution No. 2.

At the same time, the courts almost always reject the request of applicants to conclude an employment contract, because it is possible to appeal against an unreasonable refusal, but not the failure to conclude an employment contract.

Summarizing all of the above, you need to draw up vacancies and refuse wisely. If you understand that the candidate is not suitable for you, we advise the following :

🔲 Send your answer in writing. The applicant will be able to carefully read the reason for the refusal, cope with emotions and ask clarifying questions. nine0008

🔲 Prepare a neutral response template in advance, which can be sent in case of mass rejections or edited if necessary. Elena Londar, HR expert, consultant for the HR Brand Award and Russian Employer Rating hh.

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