Fear of rejection is what holds many of us back from initiating conversations. Whether in dating or in sales prospecting, the real consequences of rejection are almost always smaller than what we imagine. And here’s why it really sucks.
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“We had intense eye contact,” she said.
“He smiled at me on the subway platform and looked away. When he looked back, I smiled at him and looked away. This happened a few more times over the next few minutes. I could feel he was as attracted to me as I was to him.
“Then a train pulled up to the platform, and he boarded it. He sat in the window, right in front of where I was standing, looking out at me as the train pulled away… and he was gone.
“The next day at the same time, I came back to the platform… hoping. I know it sounds crazy, but I even came back a few times over the next week or so at that same time. But he was really gone.
“I’ll forever wonder why he didn’t act. And I’ll forever regret that I didn’t.”
The reason neither he nor she acted was simple: fear of rejection.
As psychologist Sian Beilock’s 2011 article in Psychology Today outlined, the feeling of rejection is so intense within humans that it can actually transcend our emotional state and become physically painful.
This gives new meaning to the idea that love hurts.
The intensity varies, and different types of rejection don’t always cause physical pain. Having said that, the emotional pain of “social rejection” causes many people to avoid taking certain risks, even though there is no real danger… like starting a conversation with someone who smiles at you on a train platform, or even prospecting new customers.
Approaching a stranger, whether it be with romantic or new business interests, is an exercise in leaving the comfort zone.
It’s not just doing something new. It’s also a question of perceived risk vs. reward.
With the possibility for rejection at the forefront, and with the above-mentioned pain factor, the reward is not enough to move people many people out of their comfort zone.
In working with companies of different sizes, particularly SMEs, I’ve found that many client account people are comfortable at servicing clients.
When the company leadership asks these people to look for opportunities, be it with potential new clients or even up-selling existing ones, most of these people resist.
Their expressed reasons are many. Yet the primary driver of the resistance is fear of rejection.
Psychologists call this self-limiting behavior.
Self-limiting behavior is entirely human. It happens to everyone.
Conquering this self-limiting fear, however, can unleash new potential for SMEs and independent service providers alike.
The first step is mindset, but changing mindset will be a temporary thing if it’s not reinforced with the right skills. Deploying proven best-practices in prospecting will bring you early successes, which will reinforce the mindset, and a virtuous cycle will ensue.
Suzanne Muller-Heinz is a dating and love life coach, and author of Loveable – 21 Practices for Being in a Loving & Fulfilling Relationship.
She often tells her clients not to try to eliminate the fear. Her advice is paradoxical.
“Be afraid and do it anyway,” says Muller-Heinz. “Then you’ll celebrate in the excitement of ‘I did it!’ Even if you’re unsuccessful, you’ll absolutely feel good about having done it. And you might even be successful the first time… and you will be successful the second or third time, if you do it even half-right!”
Muller-Heinz knows the sales side of this, too. Years ago, she sold hardware in Colorado for a California-based hardware company. At first she hated cold-calling and prospecting. Then she started celebrating each call regardless of the outcome, and her luck changed.
“It’s far better to approach someone and get rejected than it is to be left alone and wondering, in sales and in dating!” says Muller-Heinz.
“You’ve got little or nothing to lose, and everything to win.”
It’s all in our minds. And our hearts.
Love more. Sell more.
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I help sales teams improve their performance by putting the “love” into the sales process. The tools and techniques vary, but the mindset is simply a heart-set.
Let’s talk about love and sales. Contact me here and let’s set up a call, or sign up for my blog posts below.
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Photo by Erich Ferdinand.