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Raise your hand if you have ever been rejected by anyone, for anything, at any time. C’mon, be honest.
When I ask this question in seminars, nearly all the people raise their hand, except for those select few who never raise their hand in public no matter what the question.
The bottom line is this:
Every one of us has felt the sting of rejection at some time in our lives. And although rejection can and does hurt, there is an important distinction to be made. Most of the people I have worked with have a more difficult time with the fear of rejection than the rejection itself.
From the teen-age boy who hangs up the phone when the girl answers (did that more than once myself) to the adult afraid to ask for a raise, the fear of rejection stops many people from doing what they want.
When it comes to rejection or the fear of rejection, it’s just like many other challenges in life: It’s not what happens to you that matters as much as what you do about it. With rejection, we have the choice to either let it define us or refine us. Let’s take a closer look at each of these two options.
How we let rejection define us
Believe that FEAR stands for Forget Everything And Run. Most people get rejected once and give up.
Believe that the rejection reflects the sum total of your worth as a person.
After being rejected, never take a risk again.
Play the rejection over and over again in your mind. This helps keep it fresh.
Have a large and ongoing pity party, even though you’re the only invited guest.
Take a tip from Rabbit in “Winnie the Pooh” and think: “Why does this always happen to me? Why, oh why, oh why?”
Practice being afraid to ask.
Believe that everyone knows you were rejected and is looking at you and talking about you.
Get stuck. Stay focused on the rejection and never worry about moving forward.
How to use rejection to refine you
Believe that FEAR stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. Realize that most of what you worry about (false evidence) does not happen.
Take a tip from the world of sales: Studies show that most sales are made not on the first contact, but on the fourth, fifth or sixth contact. Keep swinging.
Keep in mind that just because someone says “no” right now, does not necessarily mean the person will say “no” in the future. That might happen, and then again, it might not. Ask again.
Learn from the rejection. Focus on how to ask more skillfully, asking the right questions, asking the right person, etc.
Practice the QTIP response to rejection. According to stress management expert Tim O’Brien, QTIP stands for Quit Taking It Personally.
And now, my favorite response to rejection: How would you like a nice four-letter word to use whenever you are rejected?
The next time you’re rejected, say loudly to yourself: NEXT!
The power of NEXT! is that it allows you to put the rejection behind you and focus on your present and future goals.
Remember, everyone has been rejected. It’s a big club. Whether rejection defines us or refines us is our choice. Which will it be for you?