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Nancy Lublin Headshot

My Money's Just Not That Into You

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I've been waiting for a returned phone call or email or even a smoke signal from a potential corporate partner for the last 5 weeks. I flew to Chicago for one day, just to make the pitch. We had a terrific in-person meeting. I sent the proposal the next day. And now I can't get an answer. Nothing. Total silence.

A friend of mine has been sort-of dating this guy for the better part of a year. It is quite obvious (to everyone else) that he just isn't that into her, but instead of ending things he keeps stringing her along with an occasional adorable text message or possible plan.

Another friend has been in conversation with a potential investor for nearly six months. There have been multiple layers of meetings, term sheets, and "it'll be there Monday" messages.

In each of these scenarios, I'm sure that the louse (the company, the boy, the vc) thinks she or he is being "nice" by not letting any of us down with a clear "it ain't happening." But really, it would be far more kind to send a clear, firm message: I'm just not that into you.

Rejection. Its awful to hear--from a boyfriend, a graduate school, an employer, anyone! But lately it seems like the only thing scarier than being rejected is actually doing the rejecting. Nobody likes saying "No," especially to a charity. So I've decided to create some practical tips for making break-ups and rejections of all kinds, easier.

1. It's me, not you. Afraid to tell the candidate that she or he isn't right for the gig? Blame it on yourself or your own company. The "you're too good for me" thing is so high school. I suggest the more modern, "we just aren't ready for the kind of attention and opportunity you deserve."

2. The timing isn't right. There are other strategic decisions being made that would dramatically affect our ability to be a good partner at this time. And for extra measure, you can add the, "I'm not at liberty to disclose those changes right now, but suffice it to say that a lot is going on here." Yeah. This is technically a version of the It's Me, Not You, but its still a goodie.

3. The Joe Jonas. Just leave a voicemail. Short and sweet. Then go on tour with your brothers.

4. The Levi Johnston. Be so awful that the person you are rejecting actually feels relieved. Bonus: if you truly manage to achieve Levi Johnston levels of guttural idiocy, you might actually have a shot of later hiring/funding/dating/marrying because you can (in the pages of People magazine) label your extreme behavior as an aberration.

5. The economy. If you are really smooth, this one works in every economic climate--it's the too much work, not enough work, too much instability, blah blah blah externalities excuse. I also recommend this one for getting out of family obligations because it has the side benefit of making you seem extremely fiscally responsible.

I need a good final paragraph here. But I'm thinking maybe I should take the next six months to think about it.