Everyone experiences rejection, but entrepreneurs probably experience it more than most. In addition to the little daily snubs of unliked Facebook photos and disinterested potential dates that we all endure, entrepreneurs with wild dreams and untested plans tend to hear 'no, you're crazy' a lot. It's part of the job, but it still stings.
Probably more than you expect it to, according to psychologist Guy Winch. On the TED blog recently, the former speaker explained the latest science on why even minor rejection hurts us so badly.
"When scientists placed people in functional MRI machines and asked them to recall a recent rejection, they discovered something amazing. The same areas of our brain become activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain," writes Winch in the post. Apparently, it's all down to our hunter gatherer ancestors. We're hard-wired to be sensitive to rejection because way back in our past, being ostracized from the group we depended on for survival meant certain death.
These days, failing to hear back from a potential customer is unlikely to have fatal consequences, but our brains still freak out like we're about to be tossed naked and unarmed onto the savannah. But getting over our terror of rejection is essential if you want to show the kind of perseverance it takes to get a business off the ground. Happily, Winch has advice to take some of the sting out of hearing 'thanks, but no thanks.'
1. Say no to self-criticism
It might be natural to get down on yourself after a rejection, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea. "By all means review what happened and consider what you should do differently in the future, but there is absolutely no good reason to be punitive and self-critical while doing so. Thinking, 'I should probably avoid talking about my ex on my next first date,' is fine. Thinking, 'I'm such a loser!' is not," says Winch.
2. Boost your self-worth
Not only should you not indulge in self-criticism following a rejection, you should actually do the opposite -- consciously expending a little mental effort to remind yourself of all that you have to offer.
"Make a list of five qualities you have that are important or meaningful--things that make you a good relationship prospect (e.g., you are supportive or emotionally available), a good friend (e.g., you are loyal or a good listener), or a good employee (e.g., you are responsible or have a strong work ethic). Then choose one of them and write a quick paragraph or two (write, don't just do it in your head) about why the quality matters to others, and how you would express it in the relevant situation," instructs Winch.
Few things make us feel better than our loved ones. Use that truth to your advantage by connecting with those who give you warm sense of belonging when you're feeling down after a rejection.
"If your work colleagues didn't invite you to lunch, grab a drink with members of your softball team instead. If your kid gets rejected by a friend, make a plan for them to meet a different friend instead and as soon as possible. And when a first date doesn't return your texts, call your grandparents and remind yourself that your voice alone brings joy to others," writes Winch.
Interested in hearing more from Winch? You can watch his completed TED talk below: