Back in University, I had feelings for a fellow student. I remember we were both sitting down, it was near the end of the term and I had told her that I liked her. I remember telling her what I liked about her, how she was kind and beautiful and a little weird and everything else that I liked over the time that I got to know her. At the end, there was little to no reaction from her and that’s when I realized that I had been rejected, that the girl that I confessed my feelings to did not feel the same way about me.
Rejection was, and still is, tough for me to handle. Whether it’s your dating life, a job that you applied to or even asking for a discount at a coffee shop for no reason (a challenge that I learned from Noah Kagan), it is probably something that others find challenging as well.
That’s why when I saw Jia Jiang’s book “Rejection Proof – How I beat fear and became invincible through 100 days of rejection”, I was quite interested in hearing about the author’s perspective on rejection and how to handle it. Here is what I learned from Jia Jiang:
1. There’s a difference between rejection and failure
A lot of the times, we equate the two as the same things. I know there was a period of time where entrepreneurs loved sharing their stories of failure – we hear about how Michael Jordan was rejected from his college team or how Donald Trump went bankrupt multiple times before becoming successful. These types of failures were shared because they were, in essence, ‘cool’ – that is, they were stepping stones to success. Rejection, on the other hand, is where we wanted something but someone else who had the power to give it to you, disagreed – for example, a job promotion or a date. It feels personal. If you were rejected, you probably want revenge. But there’s also a lot to learn from a rejection. Rejection can be an opinion that is based on context, culture or psychological factors. Rejection can just be a number – go through enough rejections and noes will eventually become yeses.
Rejection can be approached in different ways to get the outcomes you want
For example, I went and did the Noah Kagan challenge a while ago where you ask for a discount at the coffee shop. I remember I went up to the counter and asked the lady behind the counter for a green tea. I then asked for a 10% discount. At that point, the lady paused and asked “why?” I didn’t have a good reason so I just said “just because” and she said no. It’s interesting though that she asked “why” and didn’t just say “no” outright but I believe that if I came up with a valid reason, she might have given me the discount. I also believe that humans want to help each other as much as possible so even though they may say ‘no’ to one thing you ask, they may try to say ‘yes’ to something else (e.g., if you got turned down for a job during the interview, you may want to ask if there are other companies that the interviewers know of that may be hiring for similar positions).
2. Dealing with rejection gives you secrets into how to persuade someone
For example, providing a reason for your request helps the other person understand what you are trying to get out of the transaction and while they may not give you exactly what you want, there might be other ways to give you something close. An example of this could be if you want $150,000 salary but the real reason might be that you want a big enough jump where your current employer is unable to counter. Your new employer might be able to give you a decent enough bump or a signing bonus that will give you something similar to what you want.
Acknowledging doubts is another way of increasing your chances of persuading someone. If you are trying to convince a new employer to give you a higher salary than average, there’s certainly some risk that the employer takes on you if they do decide to hire you. Acknowledge these risks, and then you may try to alleviate them by providing a contingent re-negotiation if you don’t perform to the employer’s expectations or by working on a short term basis to reduce the employer’s risk.
3. Rejection can be a fuel to motivate you to achieve your greatest goals
Rather than seeing rejection as the be all and end all, you can take rejection and use it to achieve your wildest goals and dreams. Reframing it in this way means that you won’t take rejection personally (although I’m sure you’ll take it somewhat personally) and that you see rejection as just another stepping stone to success. Think of the stories of J.K. Rowling getting turned down by publishers or Steve Jobs getting let go from Apple. Work hard and those naysayers will regret ever rejecting you in the first place.
4. Try to put yourself in a position where rejection does not affect you
Again, let me share a concept from one of my favourite authors, James Altucher – he says to “Choose Yourself”. Back when he was grinding it out and trying to be successful, he would often get to a certain point and then be ‘blockaded’ by other people. He had a T.V. show that he worked on that never went forward because of one executive. His business almost got bought out by another company except at the last minute, the buyer declined. It was only after he had faced so many rejections that he had decided to put himself in a position where he could not be rejected. He self publishes his books and became a best-selling author without publishers turning him down. He lived in AirBnBs for a year so that he wasn’t tied down to a mortgage and so that he didn’t have to be tied down to possessions. He has also become an entrepreneur so that he doesn’t have a boss who can fire him at a whim or let him go all of a sudden because the economy is bad.
And if you can’t Choose Yourself, learn from Jia Jiang. Start small, get rejected over and over (and learn from each rejection) and realize that rejection is not a big deal. If you haven’t already tried it, go to a coffee shop the next time and ask for a 10% discount. It will, if you’re like me, scare you to death but you’ll realize it was no big deal. You may get rejected and in that case, nothing really has changed. But if you ask and get the 10% discount, maybe you will realize that rejection isn’t such a bad thing.