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Before reading the following lines, let’s imagine that you are in a dim-light room and, on the couch in the corner, a middle-aged woman is desperately trying to soothe a crying toddler on her lap. On the other lap…an open book. In the book, the picture of a laughing dog…like the one in the photo…

The Story of the Laughing Dog

“Come on, Oana, stop crying! Look, even this dog is laughing at you!” said the baby-sitter. But instead of a soothing reaction, the baby cries even more!

The toddler is actually myself and this is my very first memory of this world, when I was less than 2 years old. I have no idea why I was crying, but the frustration I felt, because the dog was laughing at me, remained engraved in my memory.

As Clifford Nass, a professor of communication at Stanford University, said, “almost everyone remembers negative things more strongly and in more detail”. The human brain is conditioned to remember what went wrong even from early childhood.

This memory popped up in my mind two weeks ago, when I came across one of the best business books that I’ve read in recent years: “Rejection Proof” by Jia Jiang.Best book to overcome the fear of rejection!

The book is great in helping us to understand what rejection is, how it will impact us, what the negative effects are and how to overcome them.

Then I realized that, since our earliest age, we all instinctively fear rejection, and so we often miss many opportunities in life.

The author, fruit of the Chinese immigration in the US, worked really hard to succeed in his business school and in his career. But he had always dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur. Just like you and me!

His business ideas have been rejected first by his uncle, whom he admired a lot, then by investors.

Then he realized how painful and discouraging the rejection was.

As a result, he decided to embark on a 100-day rejection journey, where he forced himself to deliberately face rejection on a daily basis. The results, presented in a funny and instructive way, are in this book.

The fear of rejection, obstacle between you and your dreams

How often have you felt rejected just because a dear one told you “no”, or didn’t share your enthusiasm for your ideas?

The fear of disappointing our family, friends, teachers often drives us to choose life paths, which are not in line with our core values.

Our parents told us to be the best at school.

But being the number one in class doesn’t prepare you to be a successful entrepreneur.

School doesn't make you Entrepreneur!

The young Jia Jiang faced the same problem: he studied hard to please others. His family was proud of him. At the same time, we all know that studying, especially when not in line with our objectives, is time-consuming. Therefore, you have less time available to collect and put in place your ideas.

Entrepreneurial ideas come and go and, if you let them sleep in the bottom of the drawer, you may be surprised that someone else puts them in practice and becomes a fulfilled entrepreneur.

Why do we fear rejection?

Scientists have proven that the pain that we feel when we are rejected it’s very similar to the physical pain and the impacts on our brain are the same.

In the early days of mankind, the consequences of social rejection were fatal for the rejected individual. When excluded from his group, he became very vulnerable, subject to wild animals’ attacks, starvation and other natural threats.

Despite the evolution, this fear of rejection remained in our brain. The brain automatically associates rejection to physical pain. What a relief to find out that it’s not me with the problem! We all share it!

It’s amazing the complex mechanism deployed by our brain in front of rejection! The book will teach you more about it, in a convivial way.

The magic of WHY

What is your first instinct when you meet a wild bear in the forest? You run away! That’s exactly what you shouldn’t do!

One of my key takeaways from this book is the magic of WHY.

When you get confronted with any type of rejection, don’t run away. Ask for feedback instead. Asking why, may not change the verdict, but may open doors to new opportunities and get you immune to rejection.

The funny and unbelievable examples from the author’s 100-day rejection journey are to be discovered in the book. Together with many other key techniques to face rejection.

Rejection is a personal opinion

This is another important lesson I learned from the book.

Most often, people don’t refuse you because of yourself or your project. But because of their own situations, fears and current emotional state. Different people will respond to the same request in many different ways.

The author describes plenty of life and business situations where, the perseverance and the courage to fight rejection can lead you to get what you want.

Use humor!

Every time you ask for something, try to use humor.The Smile is the antidote to rejection

Throughout history, we have developed humor to mitigate pain and to socially connect with other people. If you ask with a smile or in a funny way, you are more likely to get a positive result. And even if you get a “no”, the rejection will be less painful.

Smiling is a technique that I personally use on a daily basis and it’s a sure way to connect with people.

Public Speaking – a way to overcome the fear of rejection

Laughing dogs are everywhere, from the closest members of your families and your business contacts, to the strangers that you walk by every day! We cannot avoid them.

What we can do instead, is to train our brains to get used to rejection recurrently, with small things, like smiling to strangers, ask directions, make compliments.

The dreadful fear of public speaking is also a consequence of the fear of rejection: fear of being rejected and laughed at.

Practicing public speaking and following the amazing Toastmasters educational program is one of my ways to overcome the fear of rejection and upgrade my self-esteem.

As entrepreneurs, we must, at some point, sell ourselves and our services: ask for funding, convince clients or partners, negotiate with suppliers. When we are already used to the fear, we can do it in a natural and confident way.

Reading “Rejection Proof” is the first step in our tough, but winning, fight against rejection!

Watch NOW Jia Jiang’s TED Speech: What I learned from 100 days of rejection