Professional Ghosting
Aug 7, 2023
Lori Dann, Founder

Professional ghosting is when, after some level of communication, your contact suddenly goes dark. They become completely unresponsive to all forms of outreach without explanation. It leaves the ghosted party feeling confused, disappointed and sometimes angry. Whether a result of the trend toward virtual meetings or impersonal messaging apps, ghosting has become a widespread issue in the business world.

Ghosters may be following the pleasure principle, which is the instinctual seeking of pleasure and avoidance of pain. They abandon all forms of communication whenever they feel discomfort. These are some of the reasons ghosters ghost:

  • They want to avoid conflict, confrontation or communicating a negative message. It distresses them to say “no.”
  • The ghoster is apathetic and/or arrogant and doesn’t care about burning bridges.
  • They’re swamped and don’t take the time to send an “I haven’t forgotten about you” message.
  • They are not accountable and there are no immediate consequences to them personally.

It feels lousy to be ghosted, and it may be tempting to retaliate, but it’s best to stay professional. Burning bridges is never the right strategy. Here are some ways to proactively mitigate the risk of being ghosted:

  • Vet your clients and prospects – Are they qualified? Do they have the budget to pay for your services? Are they interested or just curious?
  • Play the long game – Take the time to build a relationship. Making a request too soon weakens ties and sends the message that the interaction is transactional.
  • Communicate clearly – Set specific, mutually agreed upon expectations then confirm them in writing.
  • Be responsive – Acknowledge all messages, even if you don’t have an immediate answer.
  • Follow up – Sending a kind and gentle reminder may be enough to get a conversation restarted.

Ghosting has become commonplace; that makes it ok, right? NO. It’s rude, disrespectful and passive-aggressive. It’s ok if you want to cancel a meeting, choose a different vendor, decide against a proposal or decline an invitation. Use your manners, treat people with respect, be courteous and tell them!

It’s hard to believe this is a relevant topic for business professionals. How do you feel about it? 


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