Inner Self Confidence

Most people hate the idea of rejection. It causes the phone to slip in their clammy hands as they break a cold sweat, a lump to appear in their throats that makes it hard to breathe yet alone speak, and a knot in their stomach appears that feels like it could come up at any second.

You know the feeling?

Nervous and confused, they make up any excuse in the kingdom to not do what it is they know they should do:

“It’s illegal.”

“It’s immoral.”

“It’s unethical.”

“It’s fattening.”

Though I would concur with the last statement (those long hours at a desk can be a real killer!), I absolutely explode when I hear the first three. These excuses have absolutely no relevance to our business. These excuses are just that, excuses why someone allows their own lack of inner confidence to block their path to success.

A little rough? Get over it. This is where the wheat gets separated out from the chaff. This is where the grown-ups take over from the namby-pambies, where all the difference in the world is made. This is where the value gets expressed over the relatively valueless.

Right here, right now, the winnowing begins.

Most people find the experience of phone sourcing so harrowing that they decide to “forget about it” just to end the discomfort. The heart rate descends, the breathing slows and the wild, darting eyes focus as they hang up the phone and lean back in their chairs, “happy” to have quit the race. To be blunt, most people give up before they even start. How “happy” can they be about quitting, really?

I’ve been there and know the feelings. All the scary scenarios have raced through my mind as I focused on what could go wrong. The suffering was so intense that sometimes I’d delay, or avoid altogether, calling into a company just to lessen my anxiety. I regret those lost moments and can still recall many of them, exquisitely painful as they are.

Then I started thinking about what could go right: they could give me the names, for which I would receive payment.

By focusing on the positive, I was able to overcome my initial fears and move through them. So approach it with the right attitude, and you will know within the first few seconds of the call.

In all the thousands and thousands of times I’ve called into companies for information, I have never, and I repeat never, been told, “Never call back in here again, you loser! You have no right to ask for the information you’re asking for, thief, and if you do, I’ll ….”

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It just hasn’t happened and I don’t think it will, though I am reluctant to use the word “never.” (If it does, I’ll be sure to regale you with the delightful details, I promise!)

Take Control Over Your Own Mind

Don’t anticipate failure. Stop worrying. If you do get rejected, fine, think, “Next!” Go on to the next target, and the next, and the next. At some of these, you’re going to experience success. Think of it as a game of dominos; the better you get at it the more confidence you’ll gain and the thing feeds on itself.

Can’t you see this?

“An intense anticipation itself transforms possibility into reality; our desires being often but precursors of the things which we are capable of performing.” – Samuel Smiles

Look what we transform rejection into here in our discussions everyday; it’s laughable. It makes for great stories; it makes us interesting cocktail-party guests; and it drives the value of our stock up!

Give me some more of it! It’s what drives my creativity, and it’s part of why you’re reading this right now!

The real question is, “How do I deal with my fear?” Fear is the real culprit here, as fear is what hijacks our success. Fear is imaginary and if you can overcome it, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a great telephone sourcer. Some of the reasons that rejection occurs includes:

  1. You’re not paying attention to what you’re doing. Your delivery is scattered or long-winded; and/or you sound like you’re “up to something”.
  2. You’re being presumptuous. Avoid starting with, “Hiya, how ya feelin’ today?” like she’s some long-lost friend.
  3. You push too hard. You don’t stop when you should; you ignore her rising concern; and/or you’re just generally unpleasant to deal with. (At this, the gatekeeper disconnects and laughs. It’s the ultimate in mortification. Or it should be.)

When you first start talking to that gatekeeper, she’s either going to talk to you in an open, comfortable way or she’s not. She’s either going to act cool or she’s not. She may be nervous too, since she may not know the answer to your question! Ever think of that? Help her when this happens. You won’t know when she’s nervous if you’re not paying attention. Paying attention means being focused in the moment. Do you know how to do that?

If you avoid the few major mistakes above and learn how to become aware in the space around you, you’ll avoid rejection. It’s really very simple, but let’s go back to the real burglar in the night here: our fear.

How do we remove this thieving monster from our psyches? Here are a few ideas for overcoming your own fear of rejection:

  1. Pick up the phone and make that call. The more you make, the more success you’re going to encounter. It’s a process, not an event. Take it from me, if you avoid those three tragic mistakes above, you’ll do just fine.
  2. Start small. Talk to people who are paid to talk to you. Customer service reps are paid to help. If you want to avoid that ungainly gatekeeper, ask for customer service. You’ll usually be whisked to some happy-to-help friendly individual who is paid to accommodate you.
  3. Have your ducks in a row when you make that first call. Have a few “names in” when that gatekeeper lies to you and tells you, “You need a name.” They’re all over the place these days, so there’s no excuse not to be prepared.

Learn to recognize when a gatekeeper isn’t going to play ball with you. Forget it. It doesn’t matter, so move on. There are plenty others who will.


Maureen Sharib has been a “Socratic sourcer” her entire sourcing career; from the moment she first picked up the faxed list of Silicon Valley high-tech companies that was her target list to “phone source” in 1996 to today she has instinctively followed this method of investigative sourcing using (mostly) the telephone.  She is a proponent of sourcing as a synonym for success and envisions the craft moving away from a dangerously drudgery-paced life-form existence to an exciting investigative/competitive place within organizations where practitioners co-exist within a framework of market research, human resources, and C-level future planning. She owns the phone sourcing and competitive intelligence firm, Inc. You can contact her at Maureen at or call her at (513) 646-7306.  If she’s not on the phone she’ll pick up!