business

Conquer Your Fear of Rejection

Don't wait for success to find you. Here are 12 strategies to get what you want in your career and your life no matter how scared you are to ask.

You're afraid you'll get rejected: you'll sound stupid, you'll seem like a loser; you'll pay a big price for asking.

So you decide it's better not to ask: Better to keep that yucky job than to ask for a better one. Better to accept that unfairly low salary than risk getting a "no." Better to be alone on Saturday night than to ask him or her out.

True, sometimes fear of rejection is a valid warning sign that you shouldn't ask. For example, if you're barely worth what your boss is paying you now, your boss might fire you for asking for a raise. Or if you're looking for a job and know you're not fully qualified for your target position, you probably would screw up the job, even if you did get hired.

But sometimes you know you would be wise to ask, yet your fear of rejection renders you inert. Below are a dozen tricks to getting what you want in your career and your life instead of taking only what comes to you. One or more of these strategies may help you get ahead.

Take control of your future

1. Remember that you suffer more from not asking. You can survive a rejection, even 20 rejections. But if you consistently don't ask, you'll get only what life hands you. And in a world in which most people go after what they want, you'll be stuck with the leftovers. Now that's something to be scared of.

2. Picture the benefits. How would your life be better if you asked and got what you wanted? Keep a tangible list or picture of those benefits in front of you for motivation.

3. Learn from rejection. I got turned down by many women before one deigned say yes. My first book was passed over by 18 publishers before one said okay. After each rejection, I tried to get feedback to improve my pitch; thus my odds of success improved with every rejection.

4. Don't punish yourself. Even deeply flawed people deserve a good life. Ask for what you want, if not for yourself, for those who will benefit from your better life. And if depression is holding you back, get help.

5. Set small daily goals. Good things happen to those who act. Set a goal for yourself, for example, that you'll get three rejections a day. You'll find that the pursuit of rejections reduces their pain, and along the way, you'll likely get yeses.

6. Ask what would your wiser twin tell you to do. Let's say you think, "I'm still healing from my husband having left." Your wiser twin might respond, "You know you're just making excuses. Your husband is history, so let's go make a fresh start."

7. Remind yourself of a time you were successful. That may give you the confidence to try again.

8. Pretend you're an actor. Write a script for your pitch, but don't memorize it -- you'll sound scripted. Just write a few key words to remind you of your pitch's essence. Then practice it aloud into a mirror, cassette recorder or with a friend.

9. Tell your loved ones you're going to ask. You'll feel more accountable and less inclined to back out.

10. Schedule a time to ask. Put it in your datebook or PDA.

11. Be in the moment. Just focus on pitching well. Don't worry about whether it will work -- you can't control that. Remember that one yes negates many nos. Over your lifetime, you'll get many more yeses and thus have a better life than the millions of sheep who were too afraid to ask.

12. Now force yourself. Feel the fear, take few deep breaths and ask anyway. If the person says no, ask someone else. If he says no, ask yet another person. Moderate persistence is key to having the life you want instead of the life that fell into your lap.

Marty Nemko is a career coach and author of Cool Careers for Dummies.

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