In my book The High Diving Board, I address seven paralyzing fears that can get between you and success. One of these, the fear of rejection, thefear of being told “no,” is perhaps the worst of all. Fear of rejection can stop you from asking for the things you need in life: help, support, money, a date, a job, a referral, a sale—the list goes on.
As I explain in the book, victims of this fear can become overwhelmed to the point of debilitation. “They become tongue-tied. Their paralysis makes it impossible for them to pick up the phone. They’ll actually avoid the person they want to ask for help, going as far as walking across the room, or leaving it altogether. They break out in a sweat at the mere thought of asking for what they want.” Not exactly an ideal situation.
But while the fear of rejection is very real and can cause real suffering, it is extremely rare that asking for something actually results in rejection. If you ask someone to refer you to a business acquaintance, for example, and he says “no” for whatever reason, you can allow yourself to be mortified by the horror of rejection—or not. Regardless of how it may make you feel, in reality, has anything actually changed?