She was having a tough time.
One of her favorite clients, someone she thought she was doing great work with, had opted to shift to another therapist.
“I need you to help me learn how to handle rejection,“ she said.
She wasn’t talking about being snubbed by a boyfriend or turned down for a job. She was talking about losing a customer. Even though she’d had a long and (very) successful practice, the truth was that it still stung when she lost a client.
“How can I handle it when that happens? I feel terrible!” she said.
Great question, I told her.
Just thinking about it makes you want to hang your head, doesn’t it? Rejection is a strong word, and one to which we can have a very emotional, very personal, reaction.
But what feels like rejection is really something else.
It’s that moment when a client, or a prospect, takes responsibility for their choice and makes a decision they feel is best for them. And for one reason or another, the choice they make is not the one you’d like them to make.
It usually has little or nothing to do with you.
Of course it feels personal.
And it doesn’t matter whether you’re providing physical therapy or offering tarot readings or running a counseling practice. Whether they decide to work with someone else, or no one at all, the trash talk in your head starts immediately.
What’s wrong with them? You ask yourself. Can’t they see how much I could help? What’s their problem? Why in the world would they take their business there???
More often, though, you’ll turn the blame inward.
What did I do? I must have screwed up. I knew this wasn’t going to work. I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t hire me either! I’m such a loser!
In the end, the reasons for their choice are probably all over the map. And sometimes, there’s just not much you can do about it.
Still, it happens.
Follow these 5 steps to keep it from happening too often.
(And they’ll help you cope better when it does!)
1. Work only with those who are truly a good fit.
If you’re in the start-up phase of your business, or if you’re worried and broke, you’ll be tempted to take on clients you know don’t fit for you.
Instead, figure out who your ideal client is (and who they’re not.) Develop a system for determining who that is for you; work with them.
And only them.
2. When they’re not a good fit, refer them out.
When you get a referral you know wouldn’t work for you – for any reason – refer them out. Always have a list of two or three colleagues that you genuinely respect, and hand their names out like candy.
For some of you this will sound crazy – but it’s not. It’s a win/win/win.
Trust me on this.
3. If you love ‘em, keep ‘em.
But manage the relationship on your terms, not theirs.
See step #4. :)
4. Follow your own rules. (And insist they do, too.)
As we reviewed the referrals my client had lost over time, certain patterns began to emerge.
First, they were clients she never really enjoyed. (It all starts with step #1!)
Even more revealing? In every single case she’d bent her own rules, bowing to various requests in ways that were outside the norm for her; all out of fear of losing business.
If your rule is that you don’t see clients after 5:00, don’t see clients after 5:00.
If your rule is that you only coach people for six months or more, don’t take someone on for three.
Your rules are there for a reason – right? Honor them.
5. Be prepared for the slow times.
In what you do, and how you think.
No matter what kind of business you have, there will be times when the pace of things slows. Rather than panic, use those times to revisit your marketing, review your messaging, and reconnect with favorite clients and prospects.
But don’t stop there.
Double check your perceptions by checking your numbers. Are they better than you thought? Boost your confidence by reviewing your successes. Haven’t you done more right, than not? And resist the temptation to hide, by reaching out for support. That could mean anything from calling a supportive colleague to talking to your mastermind group or hiring a coach.
Following these 5 steps will prevent rejection, ensure resilience, and help you get past the self doubt every time.