When Jia Jiang read the one-line rejection text from his hopeful startup investor, he was devastated. After quitting his six-figure job to pursue his lifelong dream of being an entrepreneur and with a child on the way, Jiang needed a ‘yes’ more than ever. Success would validate his choice to leave his old job, fulfill his dream of starting a business, and help stave off financial worries. Instead, he was rejected.

After grappling with rejection for a few days, Jiang made a fateful decision. He would seek out more rejection. Specifically, he would find rejection for 100 days to help him overcome his fear of rejection and keep a video record of it for his blog.

Along the way, Jiang not only became famous—when a video of one of his rejection attempt went viral—but he also learned how to frame a request to succeed more and be rejected less. So if you want to reduce your rejections, remember to use these five techniques from his book Rejection Proof.

Start with I

When asking for something, always frame your request using the pronoun ‘I.’ According to research by James Pennebaker, people consider ‘I’ statements to be more truthful than statements using ‘he,’ ‘she,’ ‘you,’ or ‘we.’ When people use other pronouns, they are distancing themselves from the statement, making it appear less truthful.

Jiang clarifies from his experience, you cannot know what someone else’s interests are, so the best thing to do is frame the request from your own perspective.

Offer a reason

When asking for something, always give the reason behind the question. People are more likely to grant a request when there is a reason. According to research by Harvard Psychologist Ellen Langer, it doesn’t even have to be a good reason.

In the xerox copy machine experiment, Langer told people she had five pages and wanted to go to the front of the line because she was in a hurry. Her request was accepted over 90 percent of the time. However, when Langer told people she had five pages and wanted to get ahead only because she had to copy them she was also granted permission over 90 percent of the time. Hearing “because” made all the difference.

In a different rejection attempt by Jiang, he asked a police officer to let him drive a police car. Jiang offered his reason: he always wanted to. His ‘because’ worked on the police officer and Jiang took the car for a spin.

Acknowledge doubts

If you empathize with the person you are asking, you are more likely to be successful in your request. When asking for something, you have to build trust. One way to do this is to acknowledge the other person’s point of view.

For example, one day Jiang asked to be a Starbuck’s greeter just like Walmart has greeters. The barista hesitated to grant his request until Jiang asked, “Is this weird?” Once he acknowledged the barista’s doubts, Jiang was able to get permission to stand out front and greet people.


For more success, try collaborating with the person you are asking. Arguing will not win the day, but getting the person on your side will help. Often, if you are rejected on the first attempt, people are more likely to help you if you ask for something less.

For example, when Jiang visited a nice hotel and asked if he could sleep in a room for free, his request was turned down by the women at the front desk. So Jiang modified his request and asked if he could take a nap in a room for the afternoon. Together they collaborated to find a solution and Jiang got his nap.

Always ask why

Sometimes your request will not succeed and that’s okay. But always remember to ask why someone turned you down. This will help you understand the person’s reasoning for rejecting your request. Sometimes, it might even help you succeed on your next attempt.

On one request, Jiang went to a person’s house and asked to plant a flower in the yard. The man said ‘no’ and when Jiang asked why, the man told him his dog would dig up the flowers. The man also added that his next-door neighbor loved flowers and so Jiang went next door and was able to plant his flower.

By asking why, Jiang was able to find the right person to grant his request.

Bonus advice

Practice these rejection lessons more than once to have success. Jiang did not become successful after one or two attempts. He did 100 days of rejection and still practices these methods to stay sharp. If you practice, you might still get rejected, but you will certainly get rejected less and learn how to handle rejection better.