Ghosts don’t only lurk in dating world
There was an article posted back in June on LinkedIn called, “People are ‘ghosting’ at work, and it’s driving companies crazy.” The gist of it was that, since the job market has gotten somewhat better, people are actually accepting jobs and not showing up, or not even answering the call to accept the job! Worse than not answering, though, is outright ignoring multiple messages, some checking in on that person’s well-being if, god forbid, something awful happened. And still no response. It’s not difficult to say, “I got another offer. Thanks for your time.” Why don’t people? Maybe embarrassment has set in, thinking, “Well, if I haven’t replied to any of the previous messages, I certainly can’t start now.” Yes, you can! It’s never too late to provide closure.
The concept of ghosting is not new. It’s simply disappearing—poof—after being in contact with someone, in person or via some other means. It’s usually related to dating, but as we saw on LinkedIn, not always. I contend that using such a cutesy term makes the behavior, which is not cute at all, seem somehow okay. It’s not. I’ve been ghosted. My friends have been ghosted. My clients have been ghosted. It’s never okay.
The reason I’m writing this article today is to extend the ghosting trend even more. As you know, if you read my column regularly, I run a business. The goal of my business is to help people navigate the often-complicated nuances of online dating and dating in general. Most people, when interested in potentially working with me, will schedule a free consultation call on my website. I have language indicating that if you need to cancel this scheduled call, to please do so more than 24 hours in advance of the call since I keep a fairly packed schedule and like to keep things on time. When I make these consultation calls, about one out of 10 people simply don’t answer the phone. Now, I know as well as anyone else that sometimes unforeseen circumstances come up, usually work-related, but even when I follow up to ask if this person would like to reschedule… crickets. I was ghosted.
Now, when I do have these calls, I spend up to 20 minutes of my time getting to know a potential client and explaining how my services work. Many sign up on the spot. Some don’t and ask me to follow up with them. I always do. My personal rule is two emails and a phone call to follow up after a consultation call, all a week or more later. The number of people who ignore these follow-up messages is appalling. While I know I run a business, it’s still my time. Just say, “No, not interested.” I will in no way be offended. No one would.
Whether a job or dating or business connection, the best advice I have is to communicate. Over-communicate if you have to. Rejecting someone, or a company or service, is no big deal. (Trust me—I’m plenty busy.) But, looking at your messages and actively deciding not to reply is just plain rude and cowardly. Try to remember that there’s another person—a real person—at the other end.
How do we combat this? Obviously in business, I’m not going to say something negative to someone who abuses my time, but in dating, you can. You can ask, “Are you ghosting me?” or say, as I recommend to many clients, “I’m disappointed that I didn’t hear back from you, even simply to provide closure. All the best.” This says to the ghoster, “My time is valuable, and I deserve to be treated better.” Sometimes when you don’t get closure from someone else, you have to get it for yourself, in the form of this type of message. Use the language that suits you best, but let’s combat ghosting, one unanswered text and call at a time.