No one likes being rejected. In matters big and small, being told you weren’t good enough, didn’t make the cut or came in second always stings. But while some professions allow people to avoid these scenarios, in real estate it is almost a daily occurrence. Whether it is a door slammed in your face or a listing presentation that doesn’t pay off, rejection can be difficult to take both personally and professionally. Since there is no way to avoid these scenarios, though, how you handle them—whether you wallow, learn, overfocus, ignore or overcome—can make a lot of difference in your career.
Here are five ways to improve how you handle and approach rejection:
Don’t avoid it
The biggest (and most likely fatal) mistake you can make as an agent is by skirting situations where you might suffer a painful rejection. Likely, each of these scenarios is also an opportunity to grow your business, take the next step in your career or at least generate some new leads. If you are choosing not to try something—make a phone call, hold an event or call a contact—and your primary reason is fear of rejection, do it anyway. The possibility of a “no” should never be reason enough on its own to avoid something.
Rejection doesn’t always look like a client waving goodbye, or sound like a phone call disconnecting mid-sentence. Sometimes rejection is silence—from a team lead who you had hoped to join or from a potential client who you thought was all-in. Sometimes it is a marketing event full of empty seats, an empty open house or the Monday after a weekend conference with no new leads. Trying to find out what went wrong is important, and you shouldn’t hesitate to do some digging, reach out to a few people and see if anyone is willing to provide valuable feedback. But if they don’t, that doesn’t mean you have to double down trying to find out why you weren’t good enough—that is likely a sign you are taking it personally. Go on to the next task, with the confidence that you will learn and do things better next time.
You don’t always have to wait for someone else to tell you what is lacking in your pitch, or what went wrong with a buyer presentation. Understanding the difference between a productive re-examination and an unproductive blame-fest can be more nuanced than it sounds, but if you keep your eye on the future and actionable steps going forward, likely you are on the right path. Sometimes it takes a major rejection for an agent to really start looking at what hasn’t been working, so don’t be afraid to really dive into a painful flop and think about what needs to change for next time.
Steady as she goes
Often, agents fall on one of two extremes when it comes to rejection: changing too much or not at all. One rejection shouldn’t be enough to have you tear up your whole business model and start from scratch, but a handful of negative experiences should definitely push you to improve. That balance—adapting without overcorrecting—might be the most difficult one to feel out, as nearly everyone has tendencies either to plow forward and “ignore the haters” or try something entirely different after just one “no.” Although only you can know where the sweet spot is, try to focus on incremental change, maybe committing to one or two tweaks after a rough week or a big rejection, and moving forward cautiously.
Have a long (and short) memory
It might sound like a contradiction, but both learning from rejection and forgetting it immediately is not impossible. You have to wake up every day during a discouraging week expecting and aiming for big things, but you can’t forget the big lessons failure has taught you. Setbacks are not only inevitable but they are important parts of growth—as long as you don’t let them weigh you down. Again, this balance is hard, and in an emotional and often independent industry, rejection hurts. But when you learn to sift out the frustration and pain, often you end up with invaluable, foundational lessons to build a business on.
For some agents, rejection will always remain a scary part of the job. For others, rejections often pass painlessly. But no matter where you fall on that spectrum, how you react and adapt to rejection is going to be a defining aspect of your success in real estate. Don’t let long-unquestioned habits or emotional reactions get in the way of your business growth, as you use these tips to turn unfortunate setbacks into a better pitch and a better path to your goals.