I’m afraid of rejection. The idea of putting myself out there, sharing my opinions and experiences for the world to judge, is terrifying.
And yet, I do it.
I am opening myself up to scrutiny right here, right now.
A friend and business connection recently asked me, “How do you do it?” after learning I am now contributing content for Women on Business. Meaning, how do I not shy away from sharing my ideas with people.
My writing inspired her. She had considered providing content for a long time but never made any moves because she was concerned about what people might think about her perspectives. Maybe they’ll disagree, question her credibility or criticize her style.
Her comments left me speechless. The feelings she is describing are not surprising. I feel the same on a daily basis. The fact that SHE feels them, this is what caught me by surprise.
Aren’t these fears reserved for the less experienced? This is a woman I admire. She is a seasoned entrepreneur with years of corporate marketing experience. The truth is these fears aren’t reserved for anyone. They are represented in everyone.
Why I Don’t Let My Fear of Rejection Determine My Direction (Anymore)
After five years at a small firm, I wanted to make a move to a larger firm where I hoped to find more responsibility, greater growth opportunity, and of course, money. I found several firms in my search I’d consider a dream opportunity.
Did I apply? No way! These were dream firms, obviously meant for dreaming. Why would they hire little ole me?
I didn’t regret my decision to not apply at first. The possibility of rejection was successfully avoided.
The longer I spent at the same firm (another four years), the more I realized that by not applying I successfully avoided the possibility of my professional growth. I lost.
It all boils down to confidence. The real driving force behind the fear of rejection is a lack of confidence. The good news is that confidence isn’t a trait, but a skill. With enough practice, you can develop, build, and grow your confidence.
How to Ignore Your Inner Fear and Become More Confident
I know I’m not revealing any high-security secrets here when I tell you that to take the first step to getting past your fear of rejection, you’ll need to expose yourself to the possibility of rejection.
I know — easier said then done. The next few tips will help you navigate through the process:
1. Stand a Little Taller
Seriously. Stand up right now. Keeping your feet flat to the floor, stretch your body so you are as tall as you can be. How do you feel? Let me guess, “Awkward.” That’s OK. When we do things that are outside of our comfort zone, it is normal to feel awkward. Let me ask you this: When you come into contact with a confident person, are they slouching? I think not.
2. Act As If
The good ole fake it ‘til you make it theory — if you act as if you have confidence, as if you know the answers, as if you believe; then you will.
3. Believe in Yourself
Confidence doesn’t mean insisting you are right. It means believing you are right. Commit to your thoughts and opinions. Don’t second guess yourself.
4. Create Your Ideal Situation
If you find yourself in a situation where you aren’t comfortable, change the situation. For example, I once asked my boss to turn around and not look at me so that I could present my proposal without seeing his reaction right away.
5. Practice Makes Perfect
The more familiar a situation is to you, the more comfortable you will feel. Practice with friends, practice with colleagues, practice with perfect strangers. You have to continuously practice putting yourself out there before you start getting good at it. The more often you expose yourself to potential rejection — the easier it will become.
You’ve experienced things in life and in business that might help the next person succeed. Get out there and share it!
Annita Papastefanatou says
Insightful and inspiring! Great job!
Denise Lee says
Thank you, Annita. There is so much opportunity right at our fingertips, if we could only just get out of our own way. I very much appreciate your feedback and look forward to seeing you put yourself out there!