Being ghosted is an awful feeling. It’s when someone suddenly disappears or withdraws from your life and doesn’t give you a reason why.
Now during the course of our dating lives it is inevitable that you will be ghosted by someone. And it happens for all sorts of reasons. But have you ever been professionally ghosted?
This is the kind of ghosting when you are courted for a business opportunity, a client matter or a potential job and then things go completely silent.
When it happened to me, I was left wondering what went wrong. Did I do something wrong? Why would an opportunity disappear like that when they were so interested in me and they had contacted me first about it?
For one particular position, they even asked to check references, and I had to then break it to those references that I never actually got a job offer. It was embarrassing to say the least.
It fueled my anxiety and self-doubt. But then I realized it wasn’t about me. I’ll never actually know what happened with that opportunity, but I know that I would not want to work for a company that would treat a potential employee during the interview process like that because what would it actually be like to work there?
I know I’m not alone in having this experience, which is also why I wanted to write this post.
Ghosting anyone for any reason is cowardly and unacceptable. Of course no one wants to hear bad news or be the bearer of bad news but it’s so much better to get it out of the way rather than just avoiding someone. Never leave someone hanging.
If you’ve ever been on the other side of a situation like that you know how terrible it feels to be left wondering, and I always say treat people the way you’d want to be treated.
It’s hard not to take it personally but don’t. Why would you want to work with someone or a company that doesn’t follow up or give you closure?
While it may be tempting to call them out on this bad behavior, it’s not worth it. You never know with whom you’re going to work in the future.
Just know, if someone ghosts you, you probably dodged a bullet. If the person who ghosted treats people that way, this is a sign of more significant issues to come.
Their lack of a response is your response. Reframe their lack of response as a redirection, not rejection.
Ghosting often has little to do with you, so don’t take it personally. People ghost for reasons like forgetting, being busy or avoiding awkward conversations. It’s not acceptable but brush it off, move forward and don’t burn bridges.
What can you do to avoid this happening to you in the future? Do your homework on the organization or person before you decide to move forward with them or give them a proposal. Pay attention to every signal they give to you. Red flags should be noted.
Also while it’s a good idea to follow up after an interview or opportunity to express your interest and thanks, there’s a fine line between following up and staying top of mind, or chasing down a lead that’s likely leading nowhere.
It’s always so tricky to think about whether to follow up again or “check in” – my rule of thumb is that when you’re contemplating sending that next email or making a phone call, assess the likelihood that it will push you closer to securing the job or new business versus seeming pushy or impatient. You want to avoid coming across as desperate or like you’re pressuring someone.
If you are thinking about ghosting someone, please don’t. You can have a negative impact on someone’s self-confidence. Treat people the way you would want to be treated.
And remember that it really doesn’t take long to send an email and let someone know where they stand with the status of a job or a project. I understand that making an uncomfortable phone call is, well uncomfortable. I’ve had to do it myself. And we are all guilty of procrastinating but do something because you would not want to be treated that way if you were in the same situation.
And if you do it to someone, don’t underestimate the power of chatter within your network. People talk.
I always tell myself that doors that don’t easily open for me were not meant for me, especially in situations like this. Move on and don’t assign your value to being ghosted.
Know that you deserve better than an employer or client ghosts you.
You also have the power to decide with whom you interact and work. So for example, you do not need to work with a recruiter who led you down a path with a potential employer who treated you this way or directly with an employer who did something like this to you. Nor do you need to work with a potential client who is flaky like this. And even if they should come back into the picture later on what is to say that they won’t do this again. I believe that past behavior is an indicator of future behavior.
Since so much of the business world is based on word-of-mouth referrals, it is risky to ghost or be a ghoster.
Have you ever been professionally ghosted? I’d love to hear how you dealt with it.