Rejection Desensitization

1 minute read

Go to a Starbucks. Walk up to the napkin box. Grab a napkin. Then grab another one. Then another. And another. Until you’re holding all the napkins, and everyone’s attention.

Order a dollar meal. Say “Can I get that for 50 cents?”. Then “Ok, ok, 75 cents, take it or leave it.” Walk into a clothing store, grab a bunch of hangers, and leave.

In many ways, we’re scared of rejection - of social disapproval. I, raised chinese, have nightmares about this kind of stuff. In middle school, I used to be afraid of calling folks, just because it might be a wrong number. But I’ve noticed that some of the most successful entrepreneurs lean into the cringe - they’ve desensitized themselves to rejection. They’re willing to cold-call, to hound, to create opportunities, not pursue them. And there’s something unique - dare I say it, disruptive - about the simple personality trait of being immune to social judgement.

Do you ever get a “eek” when you send a cold email, or chat with someone new? Have you ever thought about what that little bit of friction has stopped you from doing; from discovering? It’s fruit from the same tree - microdoses of social fear. The best way to desensitize is to lean into it. Do it. Step on people’s toes. Piss people off. Go to Starbucks, or McDonalds, or a mall, and try out something crazy.

There’s this really cool game called Rejection Therapy, which has a whole bunch of stuff you can do. Request a lower interest rate for a credit card. Ask for a discount on the next thing you buy. Convince a stranger you know them. I’ve been playing this game and trading dares with friends, and jeez - the first time someone went “Man, are you crazy??” was a bit awkward. The third time felt exciting. The fifth; well, it was getting old. Cold calling? Well, that’s a breeze.

Push your limits, lean into the cringe, and grow. (But don’t go overboard; please don’t be an asshole.)


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