We are social animals, and this means that we seek social acceptance and try to avoid being rejected.
Rejection hurts – it's a very negative feeling and for that reason many of us take great efforts to avoid that feeling.
What can we do about this?
How can we avoid the trap of procrastination to avoid rejection?
How can we handle the negative self-talk after people say “no” to us?
Just being aware that the feeling of rejection is normal and painful is a great first step.
Then, we have to learn ways to not stay stuck with that negative feeling.
It's not the negative feeling that is the real problem – it's staying stuck on it.
Situations that trigger negative feelings are going to happen everyday.
It's like winds and currents in the ocean, they are part of our reality, but that doesn't mean that we have to follow the negative current.
We have ways to choose our responses and the direction of our day. And this is what is really important.
There is a study done by the father of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman, back in 1986 that is a great illustration of this. Seligman and his colleague studied sales agents from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.
Life insurance sales agents face lots of rejection everyday – that's a known fact. What is interesting from the results of this study is that the agents that scored in the top 50% for optimism sold 37% more than the less optimistic agents. Moreover, those agents who were in the top 10% for optimism sold 88% more than the agents in the bottom 10% for optimism.
So, what we can learn from this study?
The optimistic agents don't take rejection personally, they reframe it, they know that it's part of the cold calling process to have “no”s, but they choose to focus on what is going well, like “I already did 10 calls.”
This shift to a positive interpretation neutralizes negative emotions, leads to more rational decision-making and makes one more productive.
It's very important to learn how to press the Pause Button on our negative emotions and remember that:
“Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.”