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How to Combat Your Fear of Rejection Fear of rejection can get in the way of our lives and our business. Learn to how to manage your fear and make the most out of it.

By Stephen Key Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Our fear of rejection is so powerful, it's stops most of us in our tracks -- whether we realize it or not. It prevents us from moving forward in our professional and personal lives. As a result, we're afraid to set goals. We're unwilling to take risks.

I admit it -- it's hard not to take rejection personally. We all long to feel accepted, and the same goes for our professional projects. When you pour your heart and soul into something, it feels like an extension of yourself. But it's also true that rejection is inevitable. And when one door closes, another one opens. So, how can you make the best of rejection? How can you turn your fear into motivation?

Related: 5 Ways to Turn a No Into a Yes

I have received the dreaded "No" so many times that I think I could wallpaper my entire house with rejection letters. But the good news is, although you can't control when or how often your ideas will be rejected, you can control your reaction. Learn to how to manage your fear and make the most out of rejection with the following advice.

Plan ahead.
Always have a Plan B and a Plan C. If you do, you'll feel less desperate, and as a result, less affected by rejection. If you have other options, you'll be able to think more critically about why your idea failed this time. After all, as the saying goes, it's not wise to put all your eggs in one basket. Accept that no project or idea is perfect so you can start thinking, where were the flaws? Where were its weaknesses? You need to embrace these realities -- not ignore them. Analyzing your idea from different perspectives will help you understand rejection and how to combat it.

Related: How to Make the Most of a Sales Rejection

Ask why.
If your idea is turned down, ask why. This advice is so simple I'm surprised more people don't follow it. Politely ask whoever rejected you if they have a few minutes to explain to you why your idea didn't work out. Don't get emotional or continue to sell them on your idea. If they are willing to explain to you why it wasn't a good a fit for them, listen very, very closely. This insight is priceless. You may be able to address their objections later; now is not the time to respond to them. Yes, it's hard not to argue, but just listen. This is crucial information you don't want to miss a minute of. You'll be surprised at what you learn.

Turn that knowledge into power.
The more information you have about why your idea was rejected, the more you will be able to modify it accordingly. Often, though, I think that rejection results from lack of understanding. If your idea isn't a good fit for a company, they are going to reject it -- and that doesn't have any bearing on how good it is. What you learn may help you pitch your product differently to that company in the future, or it may help you realize you should be approaching an entirely different company.

I have found that starting a dialogue with a company is a great way to earn respect. In the past, I've taken to heart a company's qualms and come back to them with a revised product. They understand that I'm serious about what I'm doing and am really thinking about their needs.

I like to say that entrepreneurship is a numbers game: Simply put, you're going to receive a certain number of "no's" before you receive a "yes." It's nerve-wracking and scary, but the sooner you get used to being rejected, the better off your business will be. When I'm nervous, I know I'm alive! If you can turn rejection into an opportunity to improve your business, you are well on your way to success.

Related: 7 Rules for Coping With Sales Rejection

Stephen Key

Co-Founder of inventRight; Author of One Simple Idea Series

Stephen Key is an inventor, IP strategist, author, speaker and co-founder of inventRight, LLC, a Glenbrook, Nevada-based company that helps inventors design, patent and license their ideas for new products.

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