“Are you comfortable hearing the word ‘no’?”  This is a question often asked during the leasing agent interview process and while most interviewees say they’re exceedingly comfortable with rejection, the reality is that few are. With the industry’s average closing ratio hovering around 30% one can only assume that leasing agents are in fact scared of the word ‘no’ and are retreating when prospects don’t readily complete applications the first time they’re asked.

We need to familiarize our leasing agents with the word ‘no’ in order to remove the negative connotations and fears associated with it. While there are many ways to tackle this problem, one very unique way is through a game called Rejection Therapy.

Rejection Therapy was created by a man, Jason Comely, who was scared to approach women for fear that he would be rejected. In order to overcome the fear of the word ‘no’, Comely created a game that required him to be rejected at least once a day. Tasks included asking a stranger for a ride, requesting a discount before purchasing an item, and even asking a Facebook “friend” to lunch. Unbeknownst to Comely, he was utilizing the practice of exposure therapy. At its core, exposure therapy is the process of exposing a person to a feared object or environment in order to overcome the anxiety that usually results. By exposing himself to the word ‘no’ on a daily basis, Comely found that word began to lose meaning and he began to gain confidence when speaking to women.

After sharing his game with others, Comely realized that rejection therapy didn’t pertain solely to dating but to the fear of hearing ‘no’ in general.  When it comes to leasing we find ourselves in a position where hearing ‘no’ is routine yet sales need to be made daily. If our agents are exposed to the word ‘no’ on a regular basis the stigma associated with the word will soon dissipate and closing ratios will increase.

Whether we play the Rejection Therapy game or role-play closing scenarios on a consistent basis with our leasing agents, we must be willing to participate in some form of exposure therapy to overcome the fear of the word ‘no’. Until your leasing agents are able to hear ‘no’ and continue closing anyway you’ll be stuck with closing ratios that leave much to be desired.