Ghosting is not just for dating anymore

Ghosting, are you familiar with it?

It’s really nothing unusual. You check out an attractive person on an app or on social media and you say, “Hey, I would rather hang out with you than re-watch season one of Game of Thrones.” And so you say “Hi”.

You text a bit, talk on the phone and go out. You have drinks, flirt with each other, push aside the red flags because you really only have one goal in mind. Perhaps a white lie or a regrettable confession (or three) is made in a fit of chemistry-pushing. Finally, an adult sleepover. — Now you’ve taken it as far as it can be taken with someone whom it has become clear you’re not going to date. But you only realize this at the precise moment when you get a text from this person the next day saying: “Had fun yesterday, what are you doing later this week?”

And so, you look at your options and decide the best plan of action is to ghost. It’s a process that involves two important steps:

1. You ignore the other person’s every attempt at communication.

2. That’s it.

Ghosting, for those of you who haven’t yet experienced it (and I hope you haven’t), is having someone that you believe cares about you, whether it be a friend or someone you are dating, disappear (sometimes suddenly) from contact without any explanation at all. No phone call or email, not even a text.

The expectation of ghosting is that that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the ghoster alone, as opposed to the ghoster just saying, “I’m not interested.”

The problem with ghosting is that it gives no cue for how to react. It creates the ultimate scenario of ambiguity. And if we thought ghosting was only an issue in the dating world, that would be one thing, but ghosting has creeped its way into corporate culture as well.

I run a service based business that focuses on communication, and I meet a lot of people at networking events or conferences and have had many great conversations about business and marketing goals. We end the meeting with, “That’s great, please send me something a little more formal.” We exchange contact info, pass a few e-mails back and forth with questions, and I send a proposal.

Nothing.

So, I assume it got lost somewhere along the way and I send a follow up,

“Hey, how’s it going, great conversing with you the other day. I just wanted to make sure you got my last email with the proposal. When is a good time to connect so we can discuss?”

Again, nothing. Was it something I said? Did you not like my choice of drink or the joke that i made? WTF?! What happened to the simple art of communication?

I’ve seen time and time again this mentality towards service providers that, I’ll speak to you when I need you but if I feel you aren’t relevant at this time, for one reason or another, I will just not respond — ghost you. — and we, the ghostee service providers should just take the hint and move on.

I truly believe that it isn’t always malicious, and honestly, I usually take the hint(I’m good at taking hints) and I won’t spend more time on someone who doesn’t want to be chased after — but is that really how it’s supposed to be?

There can be a myriad of reasons why the proposal is a no go:

1. The timing was off

2. Your boss vetoed the idea before it even got off the ground

3. You don’t have the budget for it

4. Personal reasons

5. I just don’t like you

Similar to the dating world, the issue now becomes, do I continue to follow up or just let it go. — “But this can be a great project, but he/she doesn’t seem interested, but he/she was so into it when we first spoke about it… hmmmm…”

The world would be a much better place with one simple sentence,

“Thank you so much (you don’t even need to say ‘so much’) for taking the time to send me this proposal, unfortunately, (fill in the blank) _________________

1. My boss said it’s a no go

2. We realized we don’t have the budget for this at this time

3. We aren’t ready yet for this service

4. Something personal came up and I can’t deal with this now

5. I don’t like you and I don’t want to work with you

Thanks

Whatever the reason, just say something. — This way, if you are not interested, you won’t get a barrage of emails from me trying to get a response from you. It’ll save us both time and frustration of emails filling up your inbox that you clearly don’t want to read.

I am not stereotyping, and most potentials do respond, but those few who don’t, even if it’s not meant to be malicious, I’m calling you out.

We once sent a proposal to a potential client for services about a year ago. Had a few correspondences, I even made a special trip to meet with them in their office, discussed their concerns and how we can help, sent them a proposal and again, nothing. So I admit, I took the hint and let it go.

A few weeks ago, a year later, almost to the date, I got an email from them, “hey, sorry for the delay, we are finally ready to move forward, does the proposal still apply?”

You mean the proposal that is now celebrating its first birthday? the proposal that is now learning how to walk? the proposal that wants to smash its face into its birthday cake? — After I laughed at the situation, my first reaction was, “No, no it’s not.” But I thought about it, revisited the proposal and thought, ok, we can still honor the service for the price that we quoted. And within one day, we had a signed contract and began working.

Those cases do happen, but most of the time, if a potential client doesn’t respond, it means they are not interested.

Can I offer a bit of advice here? Aside from being the nice thing to do, it would save us all a lot of time and effort if just one simple sentence was used, “Thank you for taking the time to send us the proposal, however, after some consideration, we are not interested (at this time).”

Wishing you much continued success in all your business goals :).

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