by Bette Price

   Fear of rejection erodes possibilities for maximizing sales. It's not that salespeople don't expect rejection, yet how rejection is handled will make all the difference in the world.
   Several years ago Kevin, a salesman friend, relayed a typical situation to me. After calling on a prospect over a period of time and thinking that he had built up a strong enough rapport to close the sale, the client pushed his chair from his desk, rose to his feet, struck a confident stance, looked Kevin square in the eye and firmly stated, "I don't like your products, I don't like your company, and I want you to leave my office." Embarrassed and angered, Kevin complied. Yet here it was, weeks later, and as Kevin related the story it was if it had happened only moments earlier.
   "You took it personally, didn't you?" I asked Kevin. "You bet I did," he responded adamantly. But, was it personal? Did the prospective customer really dislike Kevin personally? Were his comments meant to be personal? Very likely not. The prospect was, however, tired of Kevin failing to get the message that he wasn't prepared to buy and when Kevin kept insisting on continuing to push him, the prospect simply lost it and did the only thing he felt he could do to get rid of the salesman. But, it wasn't personal. Kevin chose to take it personally because he got caught in the "no syndrome."
   People can reject your ideas, your concepts, your attention, even your love. They can reject you because of prejudices like age, race, beliefs or various and sundry other things. However, your ability to cope will determine the impact. Not dealing effectively takes a mental toll. Inevitably self esteem plummets. At this stage, feelings of rejection are damaging.
   Look at rejection in three stages�I call them the ABCs of dealing with rejection.
   Annoyed stage. While you may initially experience a sense of rejection and it may be mildly annoying, you accept that there was no intent to negatively impact you.
   Burdened stage. You feel rejected and hang on to the feeling until it erodes your confidence and you become vulnerable to sabotaging yourself.
   Critical stage. This is the most damaging. At this stage personal relationships become difficult and the slightest amount of disagreement is seen as a rejection. Thus, excuses become flagrant.
   Here are some guidelines for evaluating rejections and accepting what is without taking it personally:

  • Feel the initial emotion (pain, hurt, anger, etc.); then take time to evaluate why you have responded with this emotion.
  • Determine what specifically triggered the emotion by asking yourself if the specific incident was the main trigger or was it the "break incident" that followed several previous disappointments.
  • Once you have identified the main trigger, attach the emotion to an early life experience in which you felt the same emotion.
  • Once you have identified a basis for the emotional reaction, temporarily prepare yourself to set the emotion aside.
  • Detach your emotions temporarily and consider the event from a strictly logical, factual perspective.
  • In as honest a manner as you can, discuss the situation from a purely factual standpoint with someone you trust who is not emotionally involved. Talking the incident through brings a fresh perspective to it. For some individuals, writing the facts down first, helps this process.
  • Be open to hearing another point of view.
  • Review the outcome of both the emotional and logical and make your final decision. More than likely, while there may have been some slight intent on the perpetrator to inflict some emotional pain, you will most likely find that the action was truly not a personal rejection.

   When you take time to review rejections from this perspective you will often find that it is easier to accept what is (the facts) without taking it personally (emotional attachment). The more you begin to use this process, the more you will be able to balance your emotional reaction and reject rejection.