Overcoming the Fear of Rejection: ‘No’ is Better than Silence.

Image Credit: Grumpycats.com
Image Credit: Grumpycats.com

Rejection is a regular of life. Specifically, it’s a part of every day. There is no way to avoid rejection completely. It’s just not possible. Overcoming the fear of rejection can be difficult, and it can take time to get comfortable with hearing the word ‘no.’ The good news is, once you accept ‘no’ as a necessary and regular occurrence, rejection becomes much easier to handle.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Answer

Often the problem is we are afraid of the answer. We build the potential rejection up in our minds to a point where we don’t try at all, and therefore take on an immediate ‘no’ outcome. If we’re not careful, this fear of rejection can immobilize us to inaction and failure.

‘No’ is Better than Silence

‘No’ is not failure. The truth is, receiving a ‘no’ answer is better than silence. Why? Because ‘no’ leaves little room for debate. You have your answer, and you can move on to bigger and better things. It wasn’t a ‘yes’ but a ‘yes’ is coming, and that ‘no’ wasn’t it.

Make sense?

So, by being afraid of ‘no’, we are actually closing off the possibility of a YES.

There are only two acceptable outcomes: Yes and no. You have to try until you get to one or the other. Don’t settle for silence because it is not an absolute. You can neither leave the door open or closed because silence puts everything in limbo. ‘No’ is therefore, better than silence.

Overcome Fear and Release the Possibilities

How do you make yourself more open to accepting your fear of the answer? Practice. You have to push yourself to seek the answer while being reminded that this is what you need and want. You want the ‘yes’. The ‘no’ is part of the journey to the ‘YES’.

Here are some practical thoughts I use when I start to prefer silence to an actually answer. Think on each of these points and then take action.

Steps to Overcoming the Fear of Rejection (the answer):

  • Ask yourself, what is the worst thing that could happen?
  • Practice by approaching the ‘low hanging fruit’ (aka scenarios where you’re more likely to receive a ‘yes’ outcome)
  • Anticipate a ‘yes.’
  • Plan for a ‘no.’
  • Once received, use the power of a ‘yes’ to propel yourself forward into more success.

I have to deal with the possibility of ‘no’ every day in my business. I choose to focus on the ‘yes’, and see the ‘no’ as a necessary counterpart to my desired outcome. Overcoming the fear of rejection takes practice.  However, the more you practice, and put yourself in the position to receive an answer instead of silence, the more comfortable you will become with this two-letter word.

Are you comfortable with the word ‘no’? What steps are you taking to overcome the fear of rejection?

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Kate is an entrepreneur and award-winning public relations influencer based in Columbus, Ohio. She founded Belle Communications with the vision to inspire meaningful work and thriving relationships for her clients, team and self. Kate oversees business development and client strategy, championing tactics that translate into tangible outcomes. Within the past year, she has been recognized as one of PR News' Top Women in PR, Smart Business Network's "Smart 50" Class of 2016 and Columbus Business First's Forty Under 40 Class of 2016. When she’s not busy being a girl boss, Kate enjoys exploring new cities and beaches, eating Paleo and any opportunity to snuggle a puppy or shop.

The objective in sales is either to get a "Yes" or a "No". Yes means a sale and No means you can move on to the next prospect. "Maybe" or silence will kill you because you keep putting time into something that probably won't materialize. 

I also think that another reason people fear No is desperation. They don't have enough activity in their sales funnel so they count on every prospect turning into a sale or they can't pay their bills. In these cases people fear No because No can have pretty dire consequences to their bottom line.

If people put in the time, understand their market, their offerings and their customers they will hear Yes a lot more often. 


Having been in business for 25+ years now, there is no fear of rejection. Some people will want what you have to offer, others won't. And sometimes what's perceived as "rejection" is really about things like budget allocations, timing, perceived need and the like...it has nothing to do with "you".

When we internalize a "no" as a personal rejection, we lose a learning opportunity. I always pursue a chat/discussion with someone if the answer is "no", because I want to find out if it's due to the offering, price, timing, budget or simply that the project was really already going to go "internally".

No need to fear "no". It's not a personal rejection: it's a business decision. Cheers! Kaarina

KateFinley moderator

@MichaelBowers Hi there! Yes, I agree -- research and knowing your niche is huge. You can't be everything to everyone. No = you can move on ... love it.

KateFinley moderator

@KDillabough Great perspective! The point you make about asking for feedback is super important. I've found that even if you receive a 'no' you can almost always gain valuable feedback if you just ask. I've also heard it said that the 'sale' begins when you hear no. If you look at things from that perspective, you can sometimes change a no into a yes simply by coming at things from a different angle or deepening the relationship!