For those of you not familiar with the term ghosting, Laken Howard, writer for the Bustle, describes ghosting as the “wholly unpleasant phenomenon when someone you are dating decides to simply fade away rather than have upfront, honest adult conversation about why he or she no longer wants to keep seeing you” ‘Ghosting’ is also happening in the business world.
A business associate, potential client, recruitment agent (the worst) etc. proactively seeks you out, promises a particular, detailed action and you never hear from them again. In the last 18 months, I have had this happen to me on a weekly basis – feeling paranoid, I resorted to Googling myself on a daily basis to see if there was something in my electronic footprint that might be putting people off and overanalyzed every interaction I had with that person. But what I should have done was talk to other people sooner rather than later. Because it’s happening everywhere to everyone. In peoples’ personal lives, in their business interactions and educational institutions. Most people are raised to trust other people and feel emotions such as empathy, compassion and respect. I’m not a perfect person but I could not bring myself to say to someone “I know the perfect opportunity/contact/project for you – let me make some calls – I will get back to you” And then never speak to that person again.
Yet this is happening frequently in all aspects of our lives.
Recently, I actively sort out a well-known business identity. Their website directed me to a 15 minute timeslot through an online booking system. I set the time and date, provided my details as directed. I was a potential, paying client and this person had a seemingly impeccable business reputation. The time and date came and went and I never received that call. I followed up with a personal message through LinkedIn (this person had initiated a connection request with me) and I could see that this person was active on LinkedIn, commenting and liking updates. Did I hear back from that person? No. Am I now interested in paying that person for their service, potentially paying hundreds/thousands of dollars for their “reputation of professionalism”? Absolutely not. (Side note: Have you recently tried to ‘speak’ to a person on their mobile phone? I’ll leave that for a whole other article)
It’s critical that we don’t let our fast paced society and addiction to technology destroy that fact that we are human beings. Ghosting in the business community is creating broken people, shattering self-worth and confidence, their trust in other people slowly eroded by every one of these negative human interactions. I’m hopeful that we still have time to reverse the decline in human behavior, now directly correlated as an outcome of the rapid rise of technology.
Have the courage to say to a person “I don’t have anything for you at the moment” – rip it off like a Band-Aid, practice being assertive, step into the persons shoes that you are about to ‘ghost’ and ask yourself “How would I feel if a person did that to me?” Unless you are a sociopath, you would feel rather crappy about being ghosted personally and professionally. So don’t do it to other people. Yes, it is that simple.