Learn from Smart Women

Learn from bSmart Members

When I graduated from Oklahoma City University with a Musical Theater degree, I polished my tap shoes and flew to New York with two suitcases and a heart full of dreams.  Little did I know, Broadway would teach me one of life’s most important lessons: how to hear, handle, and overcome the word ‘no’.


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Let’s face it, hearing ‘no’ is hard.  Rejection is defeating, and an even more brutal fact: it’s everywhere!  It’s in your dating apps, it’s in your job interviews, it’s in your business school applications, and it’s even in your Friday night restaurant suggestions.  No matter how many times you hear ‘no’, though, the disappointment never goes away. 

To find fulfillment, even the most timid among us needs to face rejection head-on, and learn to ask for what we want.  Like every challenge in life, a clear plan of action can help set you up for success. 

Step 1: Accept the Facts

The first step in overcoming rejection is accepting some basic facts.  Let’s do that together right now, so that we can move past them:

Rejection is hard.

Rejection is everywhere.

Rejection is disappointing.

Rejection is never going away.

Now take a deep breath, accept those facts as realities, and let’s move on!

Step 2: Make a Plan

The next step in overcoming rejection is creating a plan of action for when you encounter it.  Rejection is the result of someone else declining your suggestion or proposal, which comes in the form of the combination of a desire, a plan, and a request.  The scariest part of that combo is the request.

The art of hearing ‘no’ is all about weighing the consequences of the request itself.  Thinking through: ‘What am I asking for?’, ‘Who am I asking?’, and ‘How do I ask?’ will help you measure the risk and the reward.  If, after weighing the consequences, you have determined that what you are asking for is worth the risk, ‘no’ will simply be an honest answer that you can handle because you have prepared for it.

Walk through my tried and true recipe for weighing the risk by asking yourself the following questions:

‘What have I got to win?’

‘What have I got to lose?’

‘What is the worst that could happen?’

‘How will this affect my relationship with this person?’

‘Is the pain worth the gain?’

By asking yourself these questions in this order, you will feel empowered to ask for anything.  If you understand your ‘why’, then you will have every confidence that the risk was worth hearing ‘no’ for.  Most importantly, look at what you have gained by asking for what you wanted: perseverance, determination, resilience, and courage.


Overcoming your fear of rejection allows you to achieve what you originally thought was impossible.


Overcoming your fear of rejection allows you to achieve what you originally thought was impossible.  It allows you to push the needle forward.  It allows you to go after your most wild dreams.  And most importantly, you are choosing to challenge yourself, which alone takes courage and determination.

So what are you not asking for because you’re afraid of rejection?  You’ll never know what you’re capable of receiving or achieving unless you ask, right?


Katie Jane is a NorCal native who loves Broadway, start-ups, digital media, helping women to succeed in business, and a good boozy-brunch. 


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