Kevin Hogan

International Speaker

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Rejection is like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat…twice.

She says, “no.” That’s the first in the head.

It means you asked her for the sale, the deal, the date. You put yourself on the line. You became vulnerable and then boom!

Whether she said it with the sweetest of words or the most intense anger ever witnessed on the planet really doesn’t matter.

You have been excluded.

Nothing hurts worse.

Your innate drive to belong is crucial to your existence…to your sanity.

And your reptile (in the brain) is told, “No little reptile, I’m sure you’re very sweet. I bet your product is excellent and your services are awesome but we really aren’t interested/can’t do it now/would prefer not to/can’t I’m busy.”

Your reptile is now seriously hurt and in even more serious pain. That rejection shifts and shapes the reptile’s behavior. It will react in some way and it probably won’t have a good ending. What’s worse? The reptile has a long memory.

We’ll talk about all of these aspects of rejection as we go on in this series of articles. Today I want to you to see the value of intentionally reshaping the reptile within.

The reptile returns to it’s daily duties of eating, sleeping, rolling over and it basically doesn’t “think” too much about the rejection. But the pain it feels is very real and it’s triggered at various times throughout the day. Then a problem happens. You start “thinking about it” at the cognitive level. You begin to assign meaning to the rejection and then you can’t get it out of your head.

The rejection is now super glued to your frontal lobes. The pain is like you just got stabbed. The humiliation goes beyond the moment, often for years, often forever.

But future rejections can be fewer and farther between. Rejection has ONE upside. You can get past it, and future rejection can hurt a lot less.

Kevin Hogan on Rejection and its affect on Success

The biggest part of the rejection equation is “how bad you want it/her.”

If it/she isn’t important to you, then the rejection and pain to come will be very modest and short lived.

If it/she is a dream, if you can taste it, if your self-worth is wrapped up in the outcome…the forthcoming rejection is going to hurt very, very badly.

Remember this part, because the one extremely valuable part of rejection comes from this piece of the equation.

The Anti-Rejection Pill

One of my most intense memories of rejection happened 11 years ago.

I’ve told this story to audiences but I don’t think I’ve shared it in Coffee before.

It was a cold but sunny Manhattan November day in 2002. I was having lunch on my birthday with The Penguin Editors at a place so trendy I never would have found my way in without direction.

I’m not a trendy guy…

I was totally pumped that day…and I rarely get all that enthused about anything. (OK, the night at the Playboy Mansion was cool…but in general, I don’t let my emotions of excitement run away with my brain too often.)

Back in November 2002? I was fired up. I had seen McCartney a few times in the prior weeks. Hartford, Chicago, Minneapolis, Las Vegas. I guess that was like a “drug high” because it wasn’t me accomplishing really, but it was the fulfillment of a “dream.” I always wanted to see McCartney and he hadn’t done a tour in a decade. I figured I’d never see him. He was 60 and he just wasn’t doing gigs anymore…until he did.

I had written an awesome book which was the best thing I’d done since The Psychology of Persuasion. I was overly confident that Penguin would grab the book. Why wouldn’t they? They’d be crazy not to. I had already put more material out about persuasion than anyone on the planet, and it was only 2002.

I was coming off some seriously cool gigs of my own all over the world. I had already signed the contract in my mind.

It seemed impossible to me that they would not take my new book, The Science of Influence. One editor loved me and the book. I’d been in touch with her via email and she was sold before I got on the airplane. The other editor at lunch that day didn’t like me. Not a bit. She was The Grinch Who Stole My Birthday.

I wasn’t her cup of tea. I rubbed her the wrong way.

But…it’s also her fault that the book went on to do what it would do…with another publisher (John Wiley & Sons)

Remember this word: Vengeance. We’ll be back to it.

The senior editor had another author in mind for a “persuasion book” they wanted to publish. It turned out she (the sr. editor) was cold but mechanically polite while the other editor and I made plans for the book. For whatever reason, they were going to publish only one of the two books.

I’d never heard of my “competition,” a young woman who hadn’t written anything about persuasion…but I knew a lot of people hadn’t heard of me, either.

Both editors should have said, “Yes, Kevin, of course!”

But they didn’t.

“We’ll talk about the book in the Tuesday Meeting.”

That’s code for, “no.”

My jaw must have dropped.

It was brutal. My happy birthday turned out to be the opposite. A few weeks later they’d send me a formal rejection letter. Several years earlier I had specialized in getting rejection letters.

The decision to go with the other author had to be personal because the other author wasn’t going to sell any books. (And she didn’t.) It was personal and I took it personally.

Remember this is where the vengeance piece comes in later.

I screwed up in the conversation. I was so excited to be there I wasn’t standing on the ground. I let my emotions take over the moment.

..and the book was not going to be a Penguin book.

Nine months later, I read the other author’s book. It was elegantly written. Sentence structure was Strunk and White perfect. Layout was brilliant. Not a spelling error, a grammatical gaffe nor a stylistic imperfection. She had big New York names endorsing her book.

My book had none of those things.

I went and kicked the sour grapes can….I was depressed for about two days and then said,….

“F*&% ’em.”

…and six months later, the biggest seller of business books in the world, John Wiley and Sons, called and asked if I wanted to do a book with them. I did. It went on to be one of the most read books of the 2000’s.

Eventually, the book would go on to be the eighth most downloaded book in the world for 2009. Everyone has read the book. It did good.

Don’t tell anyone, but I hate rejection. You hate rejection, too.

So what is the antidote for the pain?

How do you avoid being rejected in the first place? What does it mean when rejection hurts so much?

When you want something bad and it/she doesn’t want you, it hurts bad.

You want the really cute girl? (Really cute publisher, really cute job, really cute deal…)

You want the “yes” to the big deal or the great job?

It’s yours. Really. It’s yours IF you become familiar with talking about your rejections and what you did in their wake.

It’s the difference maker.

It’s the Anti-Rejection Pill. The Antidote.

Rejection is the direct cause of a big percentage of achievements from a lot of life’s winners.

You’re going to channel that incredibly negative and painful “rejection energy” into a healthy, rational, intense, ethical, dose of vengeance and interesting things are going to happen….

No, I didn’t go back to New York and smack the Editor at Penguin. That gets you nothing but applause from the guys in the street. That’s just stupid.

To win, to beat the person who rejected you, you have to gain REAL revenge. You go out and make IT happen in SPITE of someone elses defective opinion of YOU.

Today, I want to show you how to literally do that for you, for the rest of your life….


Turning Rejection to Your Advantage

As I write, I’ll also show you how to do some self-therapy. You’re about to see how rejection works and how you can turn it to your advantage.

Key Point 1: rejection always hurts. But…

Rejection can almost always propel you to move up to yet another level.

This isn’t a BS pep talk.

This is Real Life 101. Remember this. Live this. Be this…for the rest of your life.


I still hate rejection, but now I know that when I get rejected, there is almost always something sweet that I will make happen on the journey.

Why does the pain of rejection run so deep?

Imagine you ask a cute girl out for a date, or to dance, or whatever…

Now this woman is a “7”; and that’s a good thing.

She says “no” to date, dance and/or whatever…

There are now TWO directions that you can take.

You can move to a “6” and theoretically stand a better chance at hearing “yes”….

Kevin Hogan on Rejection and its Antidote …or you can move to an “8” and have a theoretically lesser chance of hearing “yes”, but a bigger payoff that will springboard you forever into the future.

Additionally, if 8 says “yes,” 7 will see 8 and then she’ll know she screwed up.

Getting 8 to dance, date or whatever is great. Getting 8 AND making sure that 7 sees 8 is a potent double dose of anti-rejection serum.

Bonus Upside? If 7 sees you get turned down by 8 you’ve lost nothing in the eyes of 7.

RULE: Until proven 248 times that you are wrong, assume they are the moron; and YOU keep asking elsewhere, for better, for more.

[If you don’t know the significance of 247 in my life, google: “ rejected 247 times”]

One more time: Assume YOU are the catch until you get 247 “no” answers. Then throw in the towel. Until then you ask the 8. And then 8a. And then 8b. And then 8c…until.

KEY POINT: You are now covertly conditioning yourself for your future, which is going to last a long, long time…

…and realize that most people don’t even go to 6, forget considering the pain of 8.

Your competitor for 8? They quit. They get more depressed because they were turned down…rejected…told “no”….whine…and they go and “live with” the result. They lost and they stay lost.

You lost until you won.

If you hate rejection half as much as I do, move UP to 8 and be able to justify your value.

In 2008, I made an offer on a 9,000 square foot house. They countered. When it comes to serious money, I rarely negotiate anything of significance.

Essentially, I don’t accept counters and I walked away. They were stunned. They called my Agent, Gary The Real Estate Guy you’ve heard me talk about, and THEY countered their own offer to me…by reducing the price of the house by just over 15%.

The house was now being offered to me for 41% of it’s original list price…if I said, “yes.”

I said, “not yet.”

If you cave, and consistently teach yourself to accept LESS in life, of life, with life, for your life, then you are breeding a literal loser.

That’s eventually going to shape your self-esteem.

Your reaction to rejection IS where it’s all at…and I am quite sure you can’t beat my record of more than 247 rejections…and if you go for it…you will end up with anything you want in life.

Meanwhile…worse case scenario: Miss 8 says, “no.”

Not important. It hurts. Big deal.

Go to 9 and be able to justify your value.

Otherwise you will become a “normal person” who caves in the face of rejection.

Think about it….

Hurting is one thing.

Crying is a reasonable and fair reaction.

What you do NEXT…is your CHOICE…and what you do next is YOU training YOU for every other interaction you will have in the future.

Why Do the Feelings of Rejection Run So Deep and Why Do They Permeate our Very Existence as Human Beings?


Have you ever thought about why you NEED and CRAVE acceptance? Everyone does. It’s like water.


You WANT a nicer house.
You WANT a fancy car.
You WANT to be 10 pounds lighter.


Kevin Hogan on Rejection and Belonging You NEED to be accepted.
You NEED to be valued.
You NEED to be included.

You NEED to belong.

The need for acceptance and belonging are big time MEGA-NEEDS.

Your very health and survival hinges on belonging to someone/some group!

Any time that you face rejection, you bring yourself into an unbalanced emotional state and are left feeling the desire for this need that you crave at your very core.

Why does rejection have such a powerful effect on your well- being?

Look closer…

The Mega Need For Acceptance

In the complexity of our human existence…. the need for acceptance and belonging is a fundamental need that exists within each of us.

The need to belong is right up there with our basic needs for survival…and is correlated to survival.


Read that again before you go on…

It is nearly as important to us as the need for food and water.

Kevin Hogan on Rejection and its affect on Success The need to belong has been shown to be of such importance that without it, people suffer mental and physical illness, and are sometimes even rendered incapacitated.

People will do almost ANYTHING to belong…

Rejection : A Threat To Your Very Survival

Rejection is a threat to your very survival. It can be traced all the way back to the days when you were a baby and were dependent on others for your most basic survival needs.

You had no choice but to learn and be conditioned to depend on those who cared for you and soon that threat of rejection also became a threat to your emotional happiness and well-being.

  • Were you ever yelled at?
  • Neglected?
  • Left feeling unimportant or alone?
  • Abandoned by a parent?
  • Pushed away when you wanted to communicate?
  • Turned away when you needed love?

Harsh forms of rejection in a child’s life create scars that he or she will carry around for life…or until they “do the work” with the right person.

  • Rejection from a caregiver
  • Parental rejection
  • Abuse (both physical or emotional)
  • Cruelty
  • Hostility
  • Physical or emotional neglect

All of these carry an emotional message of “REJECTION”… and you experience it all at an early age.

Repeated rejection has caused you to expect rejection and also increases your chances of being more sensitive to rejection or situations where you even suspect that rejection is possible.


Studies show that there is direct correlation between rejection from a parent or caregiver to a child and increased Rejection Sensitivity (RS) when that child becomes an adult.

Makes sense.

If your own parent rejects you, then WHO THE HELL WOULD LOVE YOU or accept you?

…at least that’s what goes on in the nonconscious part of the mind….

As a child, you learned to react when you felt the pain of rejection (even not getting what you needed or wanted right away was a type of rejection for you).

  • “Not now”…
  • “Don’t bother me”…
  • “I said NO!”…
  • “Don’t do that again”…

Acceptance and Early Human Survival


Long ago, people lived in communities in which they depended on each other for survival.

Together they would:

  • Hunt…
  • Gather food…
  • Raise Children…
  • Fight off danger…
  • Take care of each other’s needs…

Together, they gained strength from day-to-day interaction and they became dependent on each other for their very survival.

Being INCLUDED, being ACCEPTED was necessary to survive…

…and that Genetic Code is still written inside of you and me today….

To be rejected from the group meant possible death – to be rejected by the community was to leave themselves open and vulnerable to every threat that could come to them.

Living without the protection that they had come to know and depend on would have been counter-intuitive of the basic human need of community that was within them as humans.

Today in many tribes around the world, rejection and ostracism is considered to be the most extreme forms of punishment.

The tribal interpretation of this type of punishment is feared because it means certain “social death” to the rejected.

Kevin Hogan on Success, Achievement and Wealth Factors Even in animals, those that are ostracized inevitably face an early death if they are cast out by their pack. Once rejected and cast out, they lack the resources to capture and secure their own food, and they no longer enjoy the protection of their group.

They are therefore prevented from forming bonds that provide social sustenance. They lag behind, become decimated, and eventually die through malnutrition or from being attacked by another animal.

Survival of the fittest says to be part of the group…”knowing” that if you aren’t, you are finished….

We can clearly see that by our very design, NEEDING to fit in and NEEDING to be accepted by others is a primal response.

This explains why rejection, and even the fear of rejection, is so unnerving and painful to you.

Key Point: Acceptance is an absolute NECESSITY for our very survival and well being whether it is for our physical survival, or survival in our social standing.

How does rejection affect YOU physically and emotionally?


Rejection and our Physical & Emotional Health

Rejection has varying effects on us both emotionally and physically. Taking a closer look at the process that we undergo in these stressful situations, rejection can lead to severe negative effects in people’s lives.

If you think back you can probably pinpoint several times in your life where you have been affected by rejection to the point of emotional distress and possibly even to the point of physical pain or other health problems.

Kevin Hogan on the effects of rejection Maybe the increased aggression that you were feeling (as a direct result of the rejection) made you experience one or more things like anxiety, depression, strange illnesses that had no apparent physical cause….

The effects of rejection in our lives can lead to an increased risk of all types of health problems and can lead to further devastating tolls on your health and in our lives. But it doesn’t stop there.

Rejection And It’s Relationship To Your Self-Esteem

Let’s take an in-depth look at how rejection affects your self-esteem and how those effects keep us from taking the steps necessary to creating success in your business or personal lives.

Rejection and your self-esteem work together to shape your life in both positive and negative ways. The workings of rejection play out against your inner happiness, your family life and in your business or career.

Rejection is a very complex piece of the pie of life.

Once you truly understand what it is and how it affects your self-esteem, you can learn how to use rejection and it’s warning signs as tools to enhance rather than destroy your personal and business life as well as the lives of those around you.

Take a look at your life…

  • What rejection do you personally face?
  • What rejection have you faced in the past?
  • Remember how it felt?
  • Do you struggle with it daily in some area of your life?

Let me ask you a question. When rejection is about to happen to you, does your body give you specific WARNING signs? Do you feel a “gut warning?”

Of course you do.
You can FEEL it coming.
You know…

  • Do you feel yourself backing away from the situation…
  • Withdrawing…
  • Shutting down… hiding the “Real You”?

Sometimes you probably even wonder why they said YES THEN, “NO.”

You find yourself in a situation where you can shine… your moment to step up to the plate and let ’em see what you’ve got… what you’re all about… what you’re capable of… and “BAM”… you blow it!

You felt the fear of possible rejection and it zaps you back into your comfort zone. It keeps you from victory… from success. You strike up a conversation hoping you’ll fit into a group you’ve just met while on a business trip and you realize that some of the group members’ successes and track records are miles ahead of you… and…”Bam”… you freeze!

  • What if they realize that you’re a rookie?
  • What if they ask you something that you don’t know?
  • What if they decide they just don’t like you?

You’ve heard these responses in your head over and over before… same words… different situations. (Sometimes you do this to your self – sabotage your self with thoughts of rejection that haven’t even happened yet, and the threat is ONLY in our minds!)

What you felt is the impending threat of possible rejection being measured by your built in “Rejection Radar”, otherwise known as your “Sociometer”.

Each of us has one of these “personal rejection radars” and it tells us that rejection is possibly on the way. This radar, allows us to prepare – to arm ourselves with the defenses that our internal self has in place to help protect our self-esteem.

Want to know more about this “radar”?

A Primitive Emotional Warning System

Psychologist, Mark R. Leary, Ph.D., proposes the theory that self-esteem is a type of internal meter that is built into each of us to help us detect rejection and to prompt us to avoid the threat of social rejection.

His theory suggests that the self-esteem system is an internal, psychological gauge that monitors the degree to which the individual is being included versus excluded by other people.

Kevin Hogan on Social Acceptance and Rejection Self-esteem, then, as we consider it in this article, is an internal representation of social acceptance and rejection.

Think of self-esteem as being the fuel gauge in your car. We usually never think about the function of the fuel gauge, which is keeping fuel in the car. Instead, we are focused on the alerting system of the fuel gauge. We are busy trying to keep it from registering “Empty”.

The same thing goes for our self-esteem. We rarely focus on it or worry about maintaining it for it’s own sake – keeping our self-esteem healthy and its tank “Full”.

Rather, self-esteem should be used as a gauge to keep our own “internal gas tanks” from running low.

When your self-esteem gauge’s warning system goes off… when you are sitting on “Empty”, you’re not thinking about repairing your self-esteem, which is what you are lacking, but your immediate response is to repair your standing in the eyes of others. You’re focused on ways to maintain your positive connections that are in danger.

When your “alarm system” goes off, you immediately begin checking to see what you are doing that could possibly be turning others off to you or to something that you are doing.

“It’s a primitive emotional warning system to get you to analyze the situation you’re in,” explains Leary. “Say you’re talking to someone and notice the person’s suddenly frowning; a sign of disapproval. You think to yourself, ‘I said something they don’t like. I’ve got to let them know I was just kidding’.”

Rejection Alarm System and Gauge This personal alert system operates constantly with or without you being aware of it… it’s on autopilot.

Over time, people develop a range of protective responses to react to the signals that their internal radar gives them.

Sometimes these responses can be as simple as hurt feelings, but other feelings such as embarrassment, shame, guilt, or jealousy can also serve as signs of this response to us. Because our adaptive response to rejection and ostracism is such a natural part of our internal selves, it often takes very little to trigger our detection system and bring out our built in defenses.

Sometimes they are right…sometimes they are wrong…but no matter what, the other person will react with “no” if they see that you are feeling rejected when they weren’t rejecting you.

And that is the difference between the millionaire and the guy that never quite makes it. It’s the difference between the one who gets a 5 and the one who gets a 9…and I’ll show you why…and how next week.

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Author of The Psychology of Persuasion, Irresistible Attraction, and The Science of Influence, Dr. Kevin Hogan is trusted by organizations, both large and small, to help them help their people reach their personal peak performance and maximize influence in selling and marketing. Kevin is an internationally admired keynote speaker and corporate thought leader. In Coffee with Kevin Hogan, he shares his research, observations, and how you can apply them in your life – both in business and at home.

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