Business Rejection: Don’t Take it Personally

“That’s easier said than done!” So it is, but it’s also largely true.  We get rejected all the time, in all aspects of our lives.  Let’s focus on business rejection – in essence, when business gets personal.

Is rejection an emotion, a simple fact, or a bit of both?  It all depends, doesn’t it?   Our sense of personal investment in any issue is directly proportional to the level of our fear of rejection. How high are the stakes?  When you were a teenager looking for a date, someone probably advised you to “treat ‘em mean and keep ‘em keen”.  It illustrates something we suspect to be true – we’re more likely to get what we want when we’re not too bothered about the long-term outcome.

Simply put, rejection occurs when SOMEONE ELSE says ‘No’ to MY suggestion.  It happens all the time.  It’s how we deal with it that matters: job interviews; business propositions; sales proposals – when you think about it, most of us have heard ‘No’ far more frequently than ‘Yes’.

The problem arises when our fear stops us from trying in the first place.  As a protection mechanism, we take ourselves out of the ‘danger zone’, stop applying for jobs, keep quiet in meetings, and don’t actually ask for the sale.  ‘Well if I say nothing, they won’t say ‘no’, and maybe it’ll all be OK’.

That’s all very well, but it doesn’t do much to improve our situation, and I’m not convinced it’s a very safe place to be – it’s a bit of a ‘rabbit caught in the headlights’ approach.

It can be hard to shake ourselves out of avoidance tactics.  After all, we can come up with very compelling arguments for maintaining the status quo, and not sticking our heads up over the parapet.  Can we choose to change our current situation?  Take ‘looking for customers and asking for the sale’ as an example.  If you’re feeling uncomfortable about approaching clients, ask yourself some questions.

Understanding the need to take action

  1. What will happen to my business if I don’t secure new clients?
  2. What do I believe about my ability to make the sale?
  3. What am I not doing right now that I know I should be (i.e. what am I avoiding)?
  4. How does that help me grow my business?
  5. If I don’t take action, what will happen?
  6. When will I start?
  7. What could stop me?
These questions are not intended to put you into a panic.  Rather, they’re designed to help you recognise both your need to take action, and that fact that only you can control your actions.  If you’re uncomfortable enough to do something about it, it’s time to get some perspective and channel your anxiety into doing something positive.

Putting it in perspective

  1. How many of my existing clients think I provide a good service?
  2. Why wouldn’t new clients buy from me?
  3. What’s the worst thing that can happen?
  4. If someone says ‘No’, what are they saying ‘No’ to?  Is it ‘all about ME’, or perhaps some aspect of my proposal doesn’t meet their requirements?
  5. What could I have done better?
  6. How do I find out?
  7. What stops me from asking for feedback?
  8. If I get the feedback, what will I do about it?
  9. What is the possibility of coming back at a later date?
  10. How easily can I move on to the next prospect?
  11. Do I need help?  If so, where will get it?
Avoiding the situation doesn’t help resolve it. When a potential client turns you down today, try to understand the reason why. If you learn something from the refusal, either through reflection or direct feedback, then your time hasn’t been wasted.  Instead, it’s an investment in getting a successful result next time.

The Romans knew a thing or two about growing their business, as Marcus Aurelius put it

“Reject your sense of injury, and the injury itself disappears.”



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