It’s Nothing Personal, It’s Just Rejection: Why You Should Never Be Afraid to Hear the Word “No”
By John Livesay
How many times do we take things personally in our life? When someone cuts us off in traffic? When we don’t get hired? When we don’t get a second date?
One of the key messages in the book “The Four Agreements” is never take anything personally. What if we applied this to rejection? When Ellen DeGeneres came out and her sitcom was cancelled in 1998, she joked that it was hard not to take it personally. The show was named Ellen, her name is Ellen. Both she and the character came out and got “cancelled.” After not working for time, she has since been able to transcend that rejection with her own successful talk show and hosting award shows.
The key to not taking rejection personally, is to never reject yourself or what you are selling. When I sold ads for Conde Nast and a client would tell me they were not going to go with my proposal, the negative self-talk would sometimes kick in. “Maybe another salesperson could have sold this” or “Maybe they are right my product is not as good as the one they picked.” NONE of this is productive and causes you to go into a spiral.
Instead tell yourself, “No” now does not mean no forever. Many times clients have another proposal or future opportunity. How you handle getting the No now will impact your odds of getting a yes in the future. Don’t get defensive. Don’t make them wrong. Instead explore and ask for advice on what you could do better or find out how they made their decision.
Chris Voss in his book “Never Split the Difference” talks about letting people say no on small things vs. always asking for the yes. For example, instead of saying “Is this a good time to talk?” ask “Is this a bad time for us to talk?” When you give people the opportunity to say no, they feel in control and it reduces their defensives.
In the sales process, we test the waters to see if a client is ready to buy. Often times, you get a “No I’m not ready yet.” Do you get defensive and frustrated or do you just see it as part of the dance. Objections about price or questions about your background can cause salespeople to get anxious. If you fear the no or fear an objection, you will not come from a place of calm and confidence. The key is to reframe objections and see them as buying signals.
Reframing any fear of rejection is key to not taking rejection personally. If you are waiting at a train station and a train does not stop, we realize that is not our train. We don’t take the train not stopping personally. Yet when we don’t get a second date or don’t get the job or don’t get the sale, we sometimes take that personally. Let’s reframe it and just say “That was not my train!”
John Livesay, author of Better Selling Through Storytelling, is a highly sought-after keynote storytelling speaker and Forbes columnist. During his talks, he shares the life-changing lessons he’s learned from his award-winning sales career at Conde Nast to help people become revenue rockstars by forming emotional connections with clients through stories. Livesay is the host of “The Successful Pitch” podcast, which is heard in over 60 countries.