There’s a nasty habit that’s becoming commonplace in business and I don’t like it. I’m calling it out and I want you to help me share the antidote.
Definition of ghosting
The urban dictionary definition of ‘ghosting’ refers to personal relationships and dating when someone ceases to communicate with someone they no longer wish to date. However, this disappearing act is also happening in the business world.
Just to clarify, ghosting is based on a relationship that has previously had two-way communication. So, unsolicited emails or calls that are ignored are not classified as ghosting as this is one way communication.
Ghosting can occur after you have exchanged an email, a call or even a face-to-face meeting.
Examples of ghosting
Ghosting in business isn’t a brand new topic. It has, in fact, been written about many times. Many of the examples I have read about include HR/recruitment agencies not responding to candidates post job application or interview. Candidates have also been known to not get back to accept or decline a job offer.
Another example and one that I have personally experienced is sending in a proposal to do collaborative work following a meeting only to be met with a wall of silence.
Excuses of ghosting in business
Some of the excuses I have heard and read for ghosting include the following:
Digital overload – “I have so many emails I simply cannot respond to every one of them”
Avoiding the bad news – “I don’t like saying no, disappointing or turning people down”
Too busy – “I’m too busy right now to get back to you so I’ll just ignore you until I’m ready”
Forgetful – “I simply forgot to respond and I’m too embarrassed to follow up now”
Effects of ghosting on the recipient
So what happens when you disappear?
Well, for a start you leave the recipient with a bad taste. They will be left wondering if they did something wrong and that is rarely the case.
If you ghost someone you are effectively keeping them hanging on to an invisible hook. Should they chase you? Should they keep trying? Or is ghosting the new ‘no’?
When a candidate applies or is interviewed for a job they could experience this process and subsequent ghosting numerous times. Imagine the effects on a person’s mental health?
Consequences of ghosting
By ghosting a business contact you are effectively saying ‘I don’t care enough or value this relationship’.
You could potentially be committing career suicide – you never know when that contact could be helpful in the future
You could be losing a potential customer – remember contacts are consumers too
The antidote to ghosting in business
So, the next time you receive communication from a business contact you already have had some communication with instead of ignoring them please consider using one of the following antidotes;
Polite no/decline – there are times you just don’t want or cannot continue with the subject/offer/conversation for whatever reason. So how long would it take to write a polite no/decline email? Give your business contact some closure so they can move on and stop wasting time chasing you.
Offer an alternative – perhaps your contact has suggested a way you can work together but it doesn’t quite suit your business needs. So instead of ghosting or declining why not get creative and think of an alternative way forward and suggest a new proposal to them.
Schedule a new time – ghosting can often come from people who are swamped or overloaded and too busy. Don’t ignore your valuable contact. Simply contact them to let them know you have received their communications by acknowledging it and give them an indication of when you will be free.
Please help stop the act of ghosting in business by sharing these antidotes with your contacts.