Here’s a tiny thought experiment: think of the last time you really wanted – even needed – to ask for something of others, but just couldn’t muster the courage, and the need went unmet. By not even asking, by assuming you’d hear “No.” your other choices and fear of rejection changed your future in some way, large or small. It happens so often to all of us, that we barely notice how important these forks in the road might be when it comes to shaping the future we want. Luckily, there’s a simple shift in perspective, backed up by a fascinating, fun experiment, that can change your future.
If you shrink in the face of possible rejection, it’s probably because, like many others–myself included until now–you assume there is a 100% chance of hearing “No.” We don’t even consider the odds that the person just might say, “Yes. Sure. I think I can help you with that.”
So, is this true? Are we more likely to hear a “yes”? TED Speaker Jia Jiang took on a challenge to face 100 days of rejection to see if all this fear of a “no” was really grounded in reality, here’s what he learned!
Every time we need to ask for help in an unfamiliar environment, request a raise, or meet new people, the fear of rejection feels ever-present. It whispers discouraging sentiments in our ear. Instead of facing these situations head on, we tend to avoid them altogether and do more harm than good to ourselves and others.
By not even asking, by assuming you’ll hear “No” your fear of rejection changes your future in some way, large or small. We are prisoners to a false assumption that is changing our future and our worldview daily, but we can start changing all that right now!
Is there a way we can change our perspective?
What if you learned that 52% of the time the other person might just say “Yes!”? Would that change your willingness to risk rejection?
Consider this: If you had to wait over 90 minutes to get your food at a restaurant, would you ask the waiter to give you dessert on the house to earn back your good will? Or, let’s say you are not happy with your salary and you are thinking about looking for a better job. Would you start by asking your employer for a large raise before starting to look for a new job?
Those are common examples of occasions when just asking is in our best interest, but still many of us would not attempt them for fear of rejection.
Just where is your line in the sand when it comes to risking rejection?
Maybe a better question is, what possibilities burst open for us if we can get a little more comfortable with hearing “no”? Additionally, how many surprise “Yeses” might be waiting out there for us if we only had the courage to ask?!
Today we point you to an absolutely delightful and insightful TED Talk by Jia Jiang, in which he describes his journey to find the potential in simply asking by taking on 100 days of rejection.
Have some fun and enjoy this great talk. What a treat!
If you want to enjoy more insightful TED Talks to help you start walking through the world with a greater sense of possibility, go check out their full archive of talks on their website, or over on their YouTube channel!
Taking 100 Days of Rejection into the World…
So the magic word is “why?”
According to Jia Jiang, it turns out that people want to help most of the time, but we’re just not speaking up!
Still finding that hard to believe? Consider how often you actually say “no,” when people ask you for help. That’s the way it is with most people, so the math on asking for help and actually getting rejected really doesn’t add up!
To better understand the realities of rejection, we must first identify why it is so terrifying. What is it that we actually fear? In most cases, the outcomes we imagine are far worse than in actuality. A simple “no,” can only cause so much damage, yet we still go to great lengths to avoid experiencing it because in our minds all we can come to terms with are the isolating and humiliating aspects of the possible scenario, never what we can learn from the situation or the reality of the matter.
Let’s take the two examples we opened the article with–the free dessert and the large raise–and process the conversation that might have happened, had we just asked. Maybe we would have gotten a “no” both times, but if we would have asked why, in a warm friendly way, it would have given the other person pause to actually reconsider.
Another way to mitigate the “no”: ask yourself why they might say no beforehand, and mention the doubt the other person might have ahead of the ask. It gains people’s trust and they more readily say “yes”.
Could we accomplish some of our dreams by just asking more and more often? And what if we saw things a little differently from the outset? Here’s a great quote to consider:
“An objection is not necessarily a rejection: often it is simply a request for more information.”– Bo Bennett
I suspect that is some of what Jia was driving at when he spoke about all he learned from 100 days of rejection. If he was authentic and approachable enough to engage people in more conversation, often more information was enough to get a great outcome!
So, here’s what to do next…
Have some fun with this! Loosen up, take some risks on a few things that have very low stakes, and see where things go! Then once you’ve heard a few unexpected “yeses”, try asking for something that you know would improve your way forward with someone else… perhaps something that could be a win/win if you explained things thoughtfully.
Then ask for that day off, that extra helping at dinner, that raise before shopping for a new job!
Pro-Tip: I’ve found that when I do hear “no” (which I almost never hear), I then say to myself, that it’s just a “No for now”, and I convince myself that if I keep improving my presentation, someday I’ll hear “yes” in that same situation.
Want to take advantage of other insights? Or perhaps you are looking for a fresh mindset on another topic? Take a look at these articles from our library of content!
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Stay open, curious and optimistic.
~ Dr. Lynda
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- TED. “What I Learned from 100 Days of Rejection | Jia Jiang.” YouTube, 6 Jan. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vZXgApsPCQ. Accessed 23 May 2022. ↩