Rejection Sensitivity at Work

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    • #124458

      Hi all,
      I’m still trying to figure out if I have ADHD but I definitely have some rejection sensitivity. Recently I’ve been having an incredibly difficult time at work trying to do a good job and not disappoint anyone and feeling like it’s never enough, leading to breakdowns at work. I’m an assistant manager at a movie theater— which is sometimes way too many things happening at once for me anyway. And lots of demands from corporate. Lately it’s been payroll. I was working so hard today to do the math and manage the schedule and cut several shifts (all of teens who were more than happy to have the day off; I always try to work with the people who really need money to keep as many hours as I can give them). But when my mid-shift teammate who seems neuroatypical, somewhat manic, came in he was so mad at me for cutting shifts even though that’s what we’re supposed to do, and scolded me like a child. I lost it and left crying. Anyone would be upset at that but for me, my whole day was ruined and spent crying. I had to call our boss and “tell on him” too, and even though my boss assured me I didn’t do anything wrong, I can’t stop feeling like a horrible teammate. I don’t work tomorrow but the weekly meeting for management is tomorrow, and the anxiety is crippling because I feel like it will be brought up and I will be judged, or something.

      Sorry that was an incredibly long explanation, but can somebody relate? How do you deal with RSD in the workplace and being a member of a team when there’s conflict? How do you deal with feeling like others think you must be a complete basket case? How do you (or even SHOULD you) explain rejection sensitivity to your teammates and other people around you?

    • #124694
      Anni @ ADDitude

      What you describe here sounds an awful lot like rejection sensitive dysphoria, which is actually a symptom of ADHD that is largely overlooked and misunderstood. While there is no explicit treatment for RSD, many people find that managing their ADHD symptoms helps to keep these feelings of extreme rejection in check.

      I would recommend taking the RSD self-test ( as well as the ADHD in women self-test ( and bringing the results to your doctor for a conversation.

      In the meantime, we hear from many people who use mindful meditation techniques to help them deal with feelings of RSD in the moment. Perhaps you will find something useful here:

      Best of luck!

      • #125211

        thank you @anni. I am new to this site, because I feel like my “disorder” is getting the better of me. Thank you for the links to the RSD test and meditation guide. I am going to start there!

    • #124808

      Oh yes. I took the RSD test and the only question I didn’t answer in the affirmative was about diagnoses, because I haven’t ever seen a psychiatrist. My brother who has been diagnosed with ADHD has RSD also, and we started talking about it together. We laughed when we realized that’s why the two of us have the most intense fights in the house! We called it getting stuck in a “RSD loop.”

      Thank you for the meditation techniques to try!

    • #125012

      It is so upsetting that you are shouted at by a manager.Totally unnecessary. There are more curteous ways to address difficult issues with a colleague other than shouting and reducing you to tears. Perhaps this manager could also do with some help…possibly anger management and mindfulness and workplace training.
      No one deserves to be shouted at when they are trying to do their work.Dont take it to heart.
      So much more could be achieved if we could only treat each other with some kindness and respect
      So it’s not always you who has a problem, it’s the other person ( doesn’t seem like neurotypical behaviour) acting with anger issues or some other disorder.

    • #125079

      Sensitivity to rejection is NOT a symptom of ADHD, but is associated with any history of repeated rejection. ADHD just happens to be one common cause of rejection since disorganisation and distractibility lead to forgetfulness and screw-ups.

      Could you have ADHD? Sure. But then your difficulties could be due to a number of things. If you want to get to the bottom of it, see a qualified clinician, such as a clinical psychologist.

    • #125208

      Hi there, I don’t know whether or not your reactions are due to ADD, but my rejection sensitivity has more to do with me having a hard time recovering and shaking it off, so that I may refocus on my next task. I’ve let my meditation exercises go lately and my work is suffering. I go to shake it off with a brief walk (bathroom break, drink of water, deep breathing exercises), then get distracted on things that occupy my mind that is NOT work. oops. I was prescribed adderall by my doctor, and did counselling at the same time, but I absolutely don’t like that medicine so I stopped. Because of the dual faceted therapy approach, I ended up walking away at least with knowing how it feels to be focused and productive. This is years ago, so I am feeling unproductive again and too need help with better handling bumps in the road to keep focus and not spiral on to 10 other things and getting nothing done. Your job that has Management tasks like cutting hours of someone who that hurts, can and will elicit emotion responses from people. It is important to keep a level head and be empathetic, which empowers you to see THEIR point of view. It sounds like if you want to maintain a management position, maybe your company can send you to management training, or you can find a course online or in your community. Arm yourself with tools of handling emotional employees, and difficult situations that arise. That way you can calmly respond to an employee like this “i understand it is difficult for you to accept, and this is not a personal decision on my part. This is the direction the business is heading”. And then move on. It is important not to take things personally in the work space. Do things that help build your confidence in your role. When people see your confidence, they may also be less likely to attack you and try to make you feel bad.

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