Overcoming Your Addiction to Rejection-‘No’ Doesn’t Mean Failure

By Cliff Baird, - Posted on
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Getting your life in perspective

The metamorphosis of the real estate industry has evolved in such a way that it is now gridlocked with training courses and systems. For every problem, a new “course” or a new “system/app” has been developed.

Seminars, blogs, websites and a plethora of social media materials have spawned another entire industry feeding like a parasite on the crisis of perpetual failure and mediocrity. Why have real estate agents come up against this brick wall? Why is it more likely for you to fail in this industry than to succeed?

There are two reasons for all human behavior:

  1. To increase pleasure
  2. To reduce anxiety

Endorphins are chemicals that produce feelings of pleasure in certain areas of the brain. Drinking alcohol, taking drugs, sex and exercise produce endorphins. Clearly, some addictions are socially acceptable while others are considered deviant.

What then are addicts really addicted to? Is it alcohol? Is it drugs? Perhaps if we viewed addiction in a more comprehensive manner we would conclude that all addicts are addicted to the release of endorphins regardless of the substance or activity that stimulates them. 


Unfortunately, we have overlooked ‘The Chaos of Human Nature’!

The pariah of all motivation-based and skill-based training is uncovered when we realize that the fingerprint of our humanity is that we all tend to gravitate to the line of least resistance.

After all the courses and the social media seminars and all the rest of the hype are done we are left with decent human beings that will do almost anything to deliberately avoid those activities which they absolutely know beyond a shadow of a doubt are essential for their success.

This Tragic History of the Real Estate Agent tells the full story:

  • 85% of those become a licensed agent this year will be gone within 3 years
  • 55% will be effectively gone in 1 year
  • 85% of the rest will wallow in mediocrity throughout their “career”

Why does it never change? Contrary to the belief of many brokers, coaches and trainers, most agents are not lazy and they are certainly not under motivated. They are fully equipped to be successful, very successful!

Generally, when something doesn’t make sense it is nonsense. If something seems irrational it must be emotional. There is an emotional root cause for this apparent chaos of human nature. This is a psychological crisis.

For the most part, the continuing failure to succeed in the presence of opportunity and ability must be characterized as willful, destructive behavior. This is the breeding ground for high level stress and anxiety. Our natural response to such severe emotional conditions is to seek refuge and avoid it at all costs. It is part of our instinctive nature.

“Stress is always caused when we do things we KNOW we shouldn’t do

and/or when we don’t do things we KNOW we should do.”

As a Realtor, picking up the phone to prospect for business is extremely frightening most of the time. But you have been creative. You have attended a lot of seminars on getting organized. This is exactly what most agents do under the pretense that they were working.

You would push paper around your desk, tidy your office, put your clients in alphabetical order and then after such a heavy workload you call your friends to see what you were going to do for lunch.

The fear of rejection has become a major block in your life. It has paralyzed you and you became more analytical protecting yourself from anything with a potential of rejection.


If you get this and put it into practice you will have overcome the most destructive force you are facing in your real estate career and you will breakthrough into your promised land. PROMISE!

What is rejection? Have you ever thought about how words affect us? Ironically, when we overplay or stretch a word beyond its meaning we lose its meaning. Rejection is one of those words and is has devastating results in your mind.

For example, here is what the Thesaurus gives as synonyms to help us better understand the word REJECTION:


Look at those words … they assault your mind and thoughts. We grew up wanting to never be rejected. However, there are many people who have brutally suffered through the emotional pains of personal rejection by a life partner. Some children have been unbearably rejected and denied the love of a parent.

When a perfect stranger says “NO” or someone slams the door in your face or a member of your database never responds do you really think that is REJECTION? Seriously? How dare we correlate a dreadful, supremely painful, personal rejection to a simple response to prospecting.

Doesn’t it sound ridiculous?

So, let’s stop using the word “rejection” and call it for what it really is during prospecting … it’s INFORMATION. That’s right it is information. If your next-door neighbor puts someone else’s sign on their lawn that’s information not rejection.

Your neighbor just informed you that you screwed up.

Whatever the reason it happened you have been given a fantastic lesson. But will you choose to learn from it or will you create another disturbing story to pollute your mind?

Life is easier to deal with when we realize it is all about math. Everything has a formula. The universe is held together by a formula that only a few understand. Parking your car is all about geometry. Losing weight is all about calories.

Similarly, successful prospecting is not merely measured by the number of ‘yeses’ but more importantly by your willingness to get an abundance of ‘nos’. In fact, the real goal of prospecting is to get as many noes a quickly as possible.


It is a formula that in general terms says … every time you get a “NO” you are one step closer statistically to the one who will say “YES!”. The Law of Averages is your best friend.

Getting NO is not failure.

Getting NO often enough will make you overwhelmingly successful and abundantly rich.

OK …  try this metaphor. You are downtown in the heart of a metropolitan city. It is 5PM. Now you are pulling out of the parking garage and starting the journey for home. Does anyone believe that your trip home will be without traffic snarls, red lights, honking horns, double-parked trucks, angry people and untimely cell calls?

Of course not. You don’t like it, maybe you even hate it, but you are heading home to enjoy a beautiful evening. You have come to expect the headaches along the way without any irrational melodrama and whining about your life. The journey home is just like real estate sales.

That is the way it is and that is OK. It will never change no matter how many new training courses you take or how many social media programs you embrace.

Your goal was to get home and it didn’t matter what lay ahead. You knew the trip would be horrific but the destination compelled you to stay excited and focused. We were told some crazy things when we came into real estate … set your own schedule … unlimited opportunity … great income … and on and on.

It is not that anyone lied to us but they never told us the complete truth when the truth was still good enough. We began to see ourselves as not good enough given the expectations we had.

We were never told that we were in the business of getting “NO” most of the time … in fact, almost all the time. That is the formula for success in real estate. Not knowing that formula is the reason you began to cope using a host of avoidance behaviors.


Most avoidance behaviors are good things. They must pass the test of having the appearance of meaningful behaviors. If not, it would too apparent to us.


  • Making a LIST of Things To Do
  • Working on your database
  • Working on your website
  • Working on your Facebook page
  • Reading Facebook posts
  • Going to skills training seminars
  • Watching live webinars
  • Reading real estate magazines
  • Discussing real estate ideas with other agents
  • Writing persuading copy for ads
  • Attending real estate/business luncheons
  •   Etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.,

No one would dare suggest that these are not only good but important activities to pursue. So, what’s the problem?

The problem was that you developed behavior patterns that greatly hindered your progress. You were busy for sure but not productive. You did not realize then that you had become negatively reinforced using your avoidance techniques.

Like the proverbial blind squirrel, you have been able to find an acorn occasionally.

In operant conditioning language, reinforcement involves the addition of a reinforcing stimulus following a behavior that makes it more likely that the behavior will occur again in the future. When a favorable outcome occurs after an action, that response or behavior is strengthened.

In terms of addiction, the favorable result after an action is the release of endorphins. Any action increasing pleasure produces endorphins. Ironically, any action reducing anxiety also produces endorphins.

Why you are ok with not producing

So now we are face to face with the mystery as to why agents are momentarily satisfied with their non-productive avoidance activities. Similarly, a black tar heroin addict is momentarily satisfied after the injection when the heroin courses over the brain and manipulates the release of endorphins. No addict wants to be an addict.

You will also manipulate endorphins when you drive away from a For Sales By Owner sign, refuse to call your database or decide not to go door knocking. You will also find a justifiable excuse.

Maybe you will conclude it is too early, too late, can’t find the phone number, you don’t have your marketing materials, you didn’t shave, you have the wrong shoes on or whatever.

“If it wasn’t for this or if wasn’t for that, it sure would have been a great day.”

Most agents go on a “pretend to prospect.” In the face of opportunity and the time available most agents diligently organize themselves to work rather than work. Organization is a good thing but prospecting is better.

The conditioned response to escape is reinforced every time we avoid “the Best”… because the endorphins are flowing … tranquility is restored.

Even a tertiary examination of this scenario clearly sees the destructive addictive behavior. Reducing anxiety is more appealing than the potential stress of doing the activity that you already know is essential for success.

And you do it often while in the face of pressing personal needs.

The addiction of avoidance behavior is sadly a part of your behavioral repertoire. How then can you control it?

It has long been held that “Once an addict always an addict.”  Addicts will never be “cured.” That is true. You will have to battle against this relentless foe your entire real estate career if you want to be very successful. The only way to manage it, in every situation, is to get your life in perspective.   

“STOP allowing people you don’t even know to dictate who you will become”

Once you made the decision to avoid prospecting you were allowing someone who didn’t care whether they lived or died to intimidate you.

Consequently, you abandoned your dreams and abdicated your family responsibilities. Most people don’t care about you mainly because they don’t know you.

They don’t care whether you make it in life or not. Why should they? But for many of us there are those who are desperately counting on us and depending on us to do everything we can to create a great life and build a freedom that comes with financial stability.

These are the ones who love us and need us. So, get your life in perspective. Think about those who love you and are counting on you. Get a special photograph of them, put it the windshield visor of your car, put it on your desk and use it to fortify yourself

The next time you have an opportunity to go to the door of a FSBO, the “granddaddy” of all fear, here is one way to harness the fear and overwhelm the addiction for that moment. When your heart begins to palpitate and your mouth goes dry the “fear” tapes will begin to play in your mind.

At that very instant flip the visor down stare at the picture and get your life in perspective … “the FSBO” doesn’t care about you but your family loves you …”the FSBO” doesn’t care whether you make it in life or not but your family is desperately depending on you making it ….”the FSBO” doesn’t care whether you live or die but your family would grieve forever if you did.  

Get your life in perspective. You and those depending on you deserve it!

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Cliff Baird
Cliff Baird's PhD doctoral thesis would ultimately determine his lifelong career. It eventually evolved into a psychological profile called RESTPAC and became a major instrument for predicting the potential performance of real estate sales agents. OREA (Ontario Real Estate Association), made the profile a mandatory licensing requirement for several years. Cliff created a real estate franchise, Neighborhood Realty Group (NRG) and then developed it to over 30 offices from Ontario to the Maritime Provinces of Canada. He also created a recruiting-based new profile, RealSTAR, which is currently in use in many market dominant companies and franchise systems in the USA and Canada, and is a well-known speaker at NAR, for every major Real Estate Franchise in USA and Canada, most large Independent Real Estate Companies and over 45 State and Provincial Conventions.
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13 thoughts on “Overcoming Your Addiction to Rejection-‘No’ Doesn’t Mean Failure”

  1. Hi Cliff,
    I think you hit a “Grand Slam” with your thesis on why the majority of people fail or do not live up to their potential. yes, “rejection” does eventually lead to “failure,” if you allow it. Been there, done that.
    With the historically low position of inventory, I am quite sure many agents are having a challenging time trying to stay above water. I also see the devastation that the hurricanes have caused has added additional unbelievable pressure on those in our industry in Texas and Florida. This has also weighed on sellers, who might have listed, to think twice about whether they want to move to Florida or Southern areas subject to hurricanes, further slowing available properties for sale. This pressure can be overwhelming, but one must look on the bright side, that those that have been affected to come out of it and those that weren’t should be thankful for what they have!

    1. Hey Philip you are spot on – it comes down to just Being Thankful.
      Thank you for taking the times to share a comment.
      All Good Wishes,

    1. Diane – having access to a clinical phycologist with a wealth of real estate experience sure helps 🙂

      Thanks you for the comment.

      All Good Wishes,

  2. Wow! This was “just what the doctor ordered”! Been a subscriber for over 15 years, and you guys continually help build me up, teach me new things, and help my business to thrive! A big, sincere thanks for helping me all these years, and here’s to many more to come!

    1. Hey Randy it’s comments like yours that motivate us to keep doing what we do!

      Thank you so much.

      All Good Wishes,

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