You’re probably thinking, “why the hell would anyone do this?” Well, I’ll tell you.
Jia Jiang, an introverted entrepreneur, got a wild idea one day. He decided he was sick of being afraid of people. He wanted to gain the courage to “ask anything from anyone.” His goal was to get rejected so many times that he became immune to the sting.
The objective was to get rejected in a different way, once a day, for one hundred days. He accomplished his mission, and in doing so, he turned the idea of running away from rejection on its head and inspired shy people everywhere.
This made me want to challenge my fears, and start experiencing some rejections of my own. The results ranged from awkward to real awkward to kinda funny.
This is the wisdom you can earn from getting rejected on purpose. These are all true stories.
1. Rejected For a Subway Burger
I pulled up to a Subway. It was a small place, but it was on the busy side. I walked up to the counter. The sub maker asked me, “Hey, what can I get for you today?”
I smiled nervously, and said, “I was wondering if I could get a Big Mac.” Now, before I said this, I could hear people talking behind me. But the second I was done speaking, dead silence. Something not right had just occurred. I could feel the eyes.
She said, “There’s…no way we can do that.” I responded, “No? Ok, never mind then!” And I shuffled out the door. I had a good layer of sweat on me when I was back in my car. But I realized I wasn’t dead. I had been politely rejected. She humored me.
Lesson: Rejections aren’t always harsh.
2. What’s “Rejected” in Spanish?
This one was straight from Jia himself. I walked up to two guys in a strip mall. I asked, “Hey, could I borrow $100 from one of you?”
They looked at each other, and then back to me. In the most American accent you could imagine, one of them responded, “No hablo inglés.” And they walked off. I thought to myself, “Those guys definitely spoke English.” And I laughed. I felt kind of free.
Lesson: Rejection can be pretty funny, even when you’re the one getting rejected.
3. Angry Coworker
I had a coworker who didn’t say much. He always looked pissed off. You could tell he hated being there. He only talked to a select few people on the job, and I had a feeling he didn’t like me.
We were having a busy afternoon. I needed someone to lend me a hand and operate machinery I couldn’t use. So I walked up to this guy, interrupted what he was doing, and asked if he could help me instead.
He paused, reflected for a second, and then he gave me a direct, well-thought-out answer as to why he wasn’t able to help me. He didn’t yell or groan or roll his eyes. He was straight up. I said thanks and went to look for someone else.
Lesson: People aren’t as scary as you think they are.
4. Big Y Inquisition
I walked up to a clerk in a Big Y grocery store and asked if I could get a tour of the store’s warehouse. He looked confused, but he was actually willing to help me. He told me to go talk to the woman working at the customer service desk.
She gave me a no BS vibe. She was like an inquisitor. I made my request again to see the store’s warehouse, and she told me that they didn’t use one at that location.
“Why?” she asked me, giving me the stink eye. I told her that I work in a warehouse (which was true), and then I said that I wanted to observe how they operated (kind of a lie).
I was mad at myself for not being totally honest, but I felt like I accomplished the mission of getting rejected.
Lesson: People will consider bigger requests than you expect.
5. This Ain’t a Library, Kid
There was a high-end bookstore near me that I enjoyed going to. It was well known, and a lot of celebrities had done book signings there in the past.
I walked up to the retail desk without a book. I looked at the clerk and asked if it was possible to borrow a book from the store.
She gave me the shortest, most direct response yet. She shook her head quickly and said, “This isn’t a library.” I said, “ok” and walked out.
Lesson: Rejection can feel like an arrow to your soul, but it will not kill you.
6. I Love Pizza (Delivery)
I walked into a pizza place one night. I approached the desk and made a request to the clerk. I did not ask for free pizza. Instead, I asked if I could deliver a pizza, for free.
Kind of like Subway, the whole place seemed to pause for a second and focus its attention on me. The girl at the desk said, “Hmm, hold on. I’ll ask.” I wasn’t being flat-out rejected. Maybe she just wanted someone else to handle the weird situation.
The manager came out and asked me why I was wanted to do this. I told him I was “interested in trying it.” And, “I could leave my phone behind if you think I’m going to steal pizza.” It was a mess. He said no thank you. I left.
Lesson: If people can entertain an idea this bizarre, then what you’re worried about asking for probably isn’t that big a deal.
7. That’s a Nice Coat
I was walking down a busy street by some restaurants. A man pulled into a parking spot facing my direction. Shortly after he got out, I asked him a question.
“Hey, could I borrow your coat?” This was the quickest response by far. “No,” he said. But he said it in the friendliest way possible. He had a smile on.
It was like saying no to a butler who was offering to take his coat. Like, “I’m flattered by that won’t be necessary.” It’s true though, it was a nice coat.
Lesson: You never know how a person is going to react to a request.
Rejection resilience is close to being a superpower. So much of our interactions, and our well-being, revolves around making our needs known and asking for something. This is true in…
- Romantic Relationships
- Any negotiation
You have to be willing to feel the sting of no. If you get rejected enough, you won’t have to fear no. You’ll be able to ask out your crush. Or ask your boss for a raise. Or lay out your terms in a business deal.
No isn’t hatred or death. It’s a necessary part of being honest. Avoiding no is avoiding potential.