The fear of rejection! Yuck – just the thought of those words is likely to cause some kind of reaction or disturbance in your mind, even though right now, no-one’s rejecting you – at least I hope not! My experience tells me that this is potentially one of the principal culprits of small businesses not charging what they’re worth or asking for the order.
Since creating True Worth, when attending business networking, I’ve frequently asked the following questions:
Are you undercharging?
Are you discounting your fees? or
Are you over-servicing your clients?
I can pretty well guarantee that 70-80% of the people in the room will raise their hand to one or more of those questions. And I’m not just talking about business start-ups, I’m talking about very experienced business owners too. It’s very commonplace.
Of course, the true figure may be higher, since there are bound to be a few who would not want to publicly admit this. Therefore, it would appear that the vast majority of small service businesses are ‘guilty’ of one or more of these practices.
So what is the cause of such irrational behaviour? After all, you’re in business; don’t you deserve to be paid a fair fee for your service? The answer surely is a resounding yes. And yet, clearly it’s not happening. The fear of rejection seems to be more powerful. So let’s take a look at how this can be unravelled.
Nature Versus Nurture
My theory is that the fear of rejection is due both to nature and how you were nurtured or at least the environment in which you grew up. In fact, I would go further and say that the two cross over.
As human beings, we are pack animals and are wired for connection. As a result, it’s natural to want harmonious relationships. Back in caveman days, (even I wasn’t born then!), it certainly would not have been a good idea to have been rejected, as it would likely have cost your life.
So being accepted, would be vital to survival – which means towing the line. The primitive part of the brain (sometimes referred to as the reptilian brain) takes care of basic functions for survival and is therefore still operating now as if rejection is a physical threat, which of course it’s not.
If you’ve read my previous articles Are You Blind to Your Mind Parts 1-III, you will already know that the subconscious mind is bringing up these thoughts automatically and it is likely that they are not being challenged.
Sent to Coventry
Fast forward from caveman days to your schooldays. When you were at school, did you or someone you knew get sent to Coventry by the other children in your group? This was pretty commonplace, from my recollection. For those readers who were not brought up in the UK and therefore don’t understand the expression ‘sent to Coventry’, it means that no-one will speak to you, so you are left out in the cold. For a child, that’s rather scary and probably interpreted as total rejection. This tactic was used to manipulate you so you would learn to tow the line rather than stand up and be counted.
As a child you were vulnerable and among other emotions, are likely to have experienced the fear of rejection. If you did not experience this particular situation, there would no doubt have been many other circumstances where you felt the potential for rejection and you therefore learned how to avoid it.
That Was Then, This Is Now
Let’s bring this bang up-to-date. This learned behaviour is no longer valid and yet you are still operating from it. However, you are now in a position where you can understand that the fear of rejection is both nature and nurture (learned) and that it has been a strong motivator in determining how you behaved.
Armed with this knowledge, the question now is, when faced with the, often imaginary, fear of rejection – after all, you don’t actually know what the client or potential client is thinking – what will you do? Will you kowtow to it, yet again, or will turn the tables, look at it straight in the face and reject it?
Charge What You’re Worth
Will you take the first step in charging what you know you’re worth or ask for the business, when previously you would not have dared? And what’s the worst that can happen? Someone may say NO. So what? I promise that you won’t die. Really. In any case, they are not rejecting you, they are merely saying no to your service. In actual fact, if they’re saying no, it’s for one of three reasons:
- They don’t believe it will work
- They don’t believe it will work for them
- They don’t believe in the value or they don’t understand the value
In which case, you may need to spend a little more time overcoming their concerns.
And finally, if you’ve done everything you can possibly do to make your offer clear and explain the benefits to them and they still say no, it probably means that they’re not the right client for you. No problem. Wish them well and move on. You are not being rejected. Have you got that now?
The overall purpose of all my articles is to raise your awareness – to give you a good shake and wake you up – a metaphorical kick up the bum, you might say – to get you to stop and look at what you’re doing and ask the question:
“Is this working for me or against me?”
This process is at the heart of the work I do with clients helping them transform from not charging what they’re worth, to doing just that and more.
If you have any questions in relation to this article, please contact me on 01202 743961 or 07957 672335 or visit my Contact Vanessa Page to book your complimentary True Worth Strategy Session.