Ghosting…It’s Not Just for Breakups Anymore

No matter where you get your news—the Times or Facebook—it’s likely you’ve read about the new relationship trend called “ghosting.” According to the article in the Times, ghosting is defined as: a verb that refers to ending a romantic relationship by cutting off all contact and ignoring the former partner’s attempts to reach out.

Is it possible some of you have experienced this in a business context? Is it possible you’ve found it incredibly exhausting/depressing/frustrating?

If you have (as I have) let’s take it as given that it’s not OK. In my book (and yes, it’s literally in “The Wow Factor”) you call people with good news, bad news and—just as importantly—no news. This is how you build trust.

On the off chance you’re mid being ghosted (and August is a particularly spooky month) I put together a few tips for how best to handle the situation:

1. As noted above: before doing anything, consider the time of year. If it’s August; if it’s near a holiday of any kind; if it is in that grey area that has come to constitute children’s spring breaks (which appears to stretch from March through April.) then it’s possible you’re dealing with people whose heads aren’t in the game. Factor this in as you proceed to:

2. Don’t be accusatory. After all, it is possible the decision-makers really aren’t available to make the decisions. Writing an email or leaving a voice mail along the lines of, “You said you’d be in touch by X and I haven’t heard from you,” is not going to land well. My recommendation would be something along the lines of, “I know it’s a busy time of year, which is why I thought I’d check in on the status of X/how things are progressing.” (Note: if you’re leaving a voice mail, sound upbeat.) Which leads us to:

3. Be proactive: If this is something you truly want, take the onus of following up on yourself. Conclude with, “If you have a chance and could drop me a line, that would be great. If not, I’ll check in again in a week or two. All my very best, ”

The most important piece is that you keep your side of the street clean: be mindful; sound upbeat; remain clear about your intention.

That way, if things fall apart you have nothing to reproach yourself about– and/or once you’ve gotten what you want, it’s no longer going to matter how you got there.