What do you first think about when you hear the word Rejection? Do you think of romantic rejection? Or maybe rejection related to a career – like unsuccessfully applying for a job.
But in my experience as a business coach for introverts, the fear of rejection is very real and very powerful for us entrepreneurs. And fear of rejection can come in countless different forms.
When it comes to fear of rejection in business, here are the three most common forms that I’ve come across:
Fear of looking like a fool.
This can effect us in every facet of our business’s visibility, if we let it.
I might write a blog post and someone could comment, telling me how wrong I am. I could post a Facebook update and someone could tell me that I didn’t know what I was talking about. I could do a Facebook Live and someone could ask me a question I don’t know the answer to.
Sure, all of these things could happen (and they have to me). But you know what else could happen?
Someone might tell you that you made their day, or that an insight of yours just changed the way they see their life. Or that they finally understand the topic, after hearing so many confusing explanations. Or, they decide to buy your product.
I’ve been using social media for business for a decade, and my fans and positive comments outweigh the trolls 100 to 1, at least. If you’re in a contentious space like, say, parenting, it might be 30 supporters to one troll. Either way, your supporters are going to outweigh your detractors. Focus on the people who give you energy versus the people who take it away.
And please, don’t give the small percentage of haters control over your life and your dreams.
I’d like you to picture for a second your favorite actor. Do you think he/she has never had a negative comment made about their work? What would life be like if they let those negative comments stop them from making films?
Now picture what your business would look like if you stopped giving trolls so much control over what you do.
Fear of reaching out to create connections.
Being an entrepreneur can feel isolating. And this doesn’t just apply to introverts – I’m guessing most extrovert entrepreneurs aren’t surrounded by family and close friends who understand what they’re striving for or why they’d want to run their own business.
And when you’re an introvert who guards her energy and doesn’t have a big network to begin with, running a business can feel very lonely.
I try to get around this feeling by participating in Facebook groups, scheduling the occasional virtual coffee chat, and organizing an in-person Meetup group (currently on hiatus).
That’s a lot of opportunities for feeling rejected and feeling ignored.
From that list, it might seem like I’m fearless and I don’t care whether I get crickets on my post in a Facebook group, or if someone tells me that they don’t have time this week for a 15 minute virtual chat. But I’m not fearless. Instead, I make sure my actions are louder than my fears.
Here’s how I shake off the feeling that rejection by a peer is personal:
1. I remember that I have no idea what’s going on in the person’s life. Maybe they don’t want to talk because they’re surrounded by screaming kids. Or because they can’t get a reliable phone signal in their house. Who knows… not me. It just might not be the right time.
2. I remember that I don’t want to connect with everyone. There’s 7.44 billion people on this planet. Do I want to get to know everyone? Helllll no. I don’t have the energy for that. Does that mean that I personally have something against the 7.43 billion people that I don’t want to meet? Nope. It just might be an energy issue.
3. Ya know how Facebook has a piece of code called an algorithm that determines the order posts are seen on your newsfeed (if you didn’t, now you know! Facebook posts are curated by a computer)? I’ve seen several people believe that their Facebook post didn’t get Likes or Comments because of their personality, when really it may be due to hundreds of other reasons. It might just be a technical issue.
Often, instead of seeing rejection as personal I try to see it as an interesting mystery.
Why did that post get no Likes? Was it too long? The next time I ask someone if they want to meet for a virtual coffee should I provide two possible days and times instead of 3? So instead of assuming it’s something personal, assume it’s something technical.
The next time your Facebook post gets no Likes or Comments, what will be your reaction?
Fear of being seen as an imposter
Being scared that people might find out you’re an imposter is so common there’s a special term for it – imposter syndrome. And it doesn’t just effect people new to their field. Maya Angelou and Kate Winslet for instance have both spoken about how they’re afraid people will “find them out.”
“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.'” – Nobel Laureate Maya Angelou
“I’d wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and think, I can’t do this; I’m a fraud.” – Kate Winslet
Even Neil Armstrong thought he was nothing special. “I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.”
Fear of being an imposter can effect our business’s bottom line. I’ve seen it in my own coaching clients. I had one client who really knew her stuff. She’d been doing it for years and her social media followers loved her informative posts. She had even been asked by several people to create a course… but she was really resisting creating that course.
What if my customers find out I’m not the world expert in this, and they’re disappointed? What if they ask for their money back?
I once read an article about a very successful entrepreneur, let’s call her Farie Morleo, which outlined how she decreased the number of refunds she had to process for her course. I can’t remember the percentage of returns she was quoted as originally having, but I found that percentage shockingly high.
Everyone has to deal with refunds. Refunds don’t mean that other people didn’t find value in what you created.
Here’s three things you can do to prevent the fear of rejection from stopping you:
1. Take Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice from Big Magic. Think of yourself, fear, and creativity as going on a road trip. Fear is in the back seat. It’s along for the ride, and it can speak if it wants, but you don’t have to listen and it does not get to dictate where you go. It can’t even touch the radio dial.
2. Count down – 5 4 3 2 1 – and then do it. Do what’s scaring you, without another thought. This technique is from Mel Robbin’s book The Five Second Rule.
3. Ask yourself – if my best friend did this, would I think she was making a fool of herself? Funny how we can have more faith in our best friends than in ourself.
Failure and success are two sides to the same coin, my friends. You can’t have success in business without the risk of failure and rejection.
Now go out there, be seen, and be successful.
Do you know you should be doing Facebook Lives, but the thought of them is just too scary? It’s time to start, join the 4-week “Camera-Shy to Facebook Live” workshop to get guidance and support from your fellow introverts.