I recently read an article about “ghosting” and felt compelled to share my research and thoughts especially in a time when we are constantly being advised to "step out of our comfort zone, make ourselves vulnerable, go after new opportunities." Often, going after new opportunities entails engaging in communications with gatekeepers of these opportunities. And just when you believe things are mutually progressing nicely toward that business deal or job opportunity .... YOU'VE BEEN GHOSTED.
Ghosting is the ultimate use of the silent treatment, a tactic that has often been viewed by mental health professionals as a form of emotional cruelty. Ghosting is unprofessional, unkind, and down right dangerous behavior that reflects directly upon one’s character. And even worse, ghosting is on the rise. But karma’s a bitch and there are consequences related to this bad business practice.
If you are doing the ghosting:
- You are jeopardizing your job, your brand, your personal reputation, and the company's reputation. Ghosting may come back to bite you. You never know if the person you are ghosting has contacts in the media or other public forum who can take your bad behavior public.
- You are a bully on a power trip using your power for evil, not good (to put it in superhero terms... you are a supervillain).
- You might be putting your own personal safety and well-being at risk, especially if you are a gatekeeper of someone's future. When you abruptly cut off communication with no explanation, the person being ghosted may become desperate for closure. With personal data and home addresses easily accessible via one google search, you really need to think twice before messing with someone in a vulnerable state. If you choose to ghost someone, beware of the consequences.
- Brush up on ALL aspects of common courtesy and manners since it is likely that ghosting is NOT your only flaw. Look deeply within and re-educate yourself on humility, kindness, and empathy immediately because you are not a good person right now. Volunteer. Help others with no expectations.
- You might not be cut out for your job. You yourself may feel overwhelmed and can’t keep up with the number of emails, phone calls, and texts that come in resulting in 'unintentional ghosting'. You either need to change jobs or pull together a plan of action to ensure that all people are properly responded to. Let your boss know that you’re swamped with calls and emails and request additional support. Unintentionally ghosting is still wrong and carries the same possible consequences as intentional ghosting.
If you are being ghosted:
- In a professional manner, reach out to that person’s boss or to the highest owner of the company to let them know that this bad business practice going on. You may have to explain what ghosting is and the effects it has on both parties. It’s ok to share a few personal words about what this opportunity could have meant to you and your family. Ask if there is someone else in the company that you can work with to hopefully continue communications toward mutual goals
- Toughen up. Grow thicker skin. Like water on a duck's back, shake it off. The fact is that you can't change other peoples behaviors nor actions. You can only control how YOU respond to them.
- Take your ball and go home. That means, move on. There are other opportunities out there. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you.