Ghosts don’t only lurk in dat­ing world

Texarkana Gazette - - FEATURES - Colum­nist Tri­bune News Ser­vice

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.

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