Getting Comfortable With Rejection

Let’s not sugar coat it. Rejection sucks! No one likes going into a negotiation and getting shut down. We’re all afraid of getting rejected, laughed at, or asked to leave. We’re more afraid of what might happen than what’s likely to happen. There’s a great quote that’s been attributed to Mark Twain where he says:

I AM AN OLD MAN AND HAVE KNOWN A GREAT MANY TROUBLES, MOST OF WHICH NEVER HAPPENED” – MARK TWAIN

What Mark Twain is expressing here is often referred to as the “pseudo-world” that we create in our own minds (pseudo = “not genuine; sham.”). We imagine and experience the mental and emotional suffering in scenarios that never happen. When we fear rejection we go into the negotiation nervous. That nervous energy manifests itself in a few ways. Sometimes it manifests through our body language and sometimes through our speech and speech patterns. Sometimes we get so nervous of rejection that as soon as someone pauses after we make our first request, we immediately concede or say something like, “But of course that’s negotiable.”

Sometimes we even get so overcome with fear of rejection that we negotiate with ourselves before we even go into the negotiation. That discussion with ourselves usually looks like this: “They’ll never accept that offer (counter-offer). I should probably lower my expectations. I should lower my price to something more reasonable. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. I mean, I have to be reasonable, right!?! Can’t go in expecting too much.” And so you lower your ask before you even go into the negotiation. You’ve negotiated with yourself before even giving someone the opportunity to negotiate with you.

The truth is that we all feel this way in varying degrees. Some of us have just become more comfortable with rejection or the fear of rejection than others.

So how does a person get more comfortable with rejection and the fear of rejection?

Here’s the tough truth: You have to practice getting rejected.

Yeah, I know. Not what you were expecting. The truth is that there’s no easy way around it. You have to face it. And volume is key. The more you do it, the more comfortable you get. But where can you practice in a low risk, high volume environment where the stakes are super low?

For me its the grocery store and the coffee shop. I try to ask for a discount every time I get a coffee or go buy groceries. The response I get from most people when I tell them this is, “You ask for a discount at the grocery store?” And my response is, “Absolutely!” The result I get is not important, it’s more for me to practice getting rejected than anything else. It’s to help me get over that fear. The truth is I get rejected a lot. When I started I got rejected about 95% of the time. But over the years, my comfort level has increased significantly and I’ve started practicing other negotiation techniques and lines when I ask. Now I only get rejected about 50% – 45% of the time.

Success here is not important. What’s important is to practice asking for something you don’t expect to get. What’s important is getting rejected and learning to deal with it and the fear of it. The stakes are super low (pretty much zero). The next time you grab a coffee, ask for a discount.