The vanishing communication act
The ghosting phenomenon is real… and it’s not so mysterious. A person, task, or commitment simply disappears suddenly, unexpectedly, and without reason.
It happens in our personal lives and in our professional lives. You’ve probably been on both sides of the vanishing act: not only as the victim, but also as the perpetrator.
I am not proud of it, but I have been the guilty party. My “disappearance” just happened, without any consideration of the other person, and being the ghost left me feeling completely paralyzed, unable to right the wrong. The more time that passed the greater my shame.
When you are the one who is ghosting it’s as if the situation, person, or agreement instantly disappears. It’s as if it or they don’t exist and therefore you are magically absolved from any accountability. But, in reality, you carry it with you in other ways.
When you’re the one being ghosted, it’s not only irritating, it can also damage your psyche and willingness to believe in others. You might question what you did or go to the other extreme and become jaded, believing this is to be expected. It’s not.
A potential client ghosted me recently. For weeks, we talked about a joint venture.
I gathered resources, reached out to staff, and eventually submitted a proposal.
Crickets. I reached out again, no response. I contacted him a third time. Still nothing, Eventually, I just gave up.
It was frustrating. But it also gave me a bit of perspective.
First off, this is not acceptable behavior. It’s not okay, either to do it or receive it. It’s just plain rude. From a communication standpoint, it’s an unfinished or unspoken conversation.
While you cannot make someone talk or respond to you, you can establish parameters from the start to reduce your chance of being ghosted.
1. Establish an agreement upfront. Institute accountability with clear tasks and time frames to complete them. For example, with the potential client above, our agreement might have looked like; “We are going to do this proposal in three phases.
I am going to do the initial research.
You will gather financial resources and submit a budget.
We will get together after we have both done our part to see if this project is worth pursuing.
2. Seek a verbal deposit, a commitment to move forward from the beginning. Schedule your next meeting in advance and confirm it the day before.
3. Limit your investment, until both parties have something at stake in the agreement, relationship, or project. Think of this like dating. Would you get engaged after a second date?
4. Be prepared for the possibility that the other person may lose interest, resources, or enthusiasm. This doesn’t mean you expect to be ghosted. It means you’re prepared for the unexpected human dynamic that might happen. For example, the excitement at the beginning tapers off to such an extent that the other party cannot carry through on the project or relationship.
Ghosting leaves too much open to interpretation, so perspective is important. Your approach to it – the only thing you truly have control of – can either make it a learning, one-to-grow-on lesson, or something that just kills your spirit.
If it happens to you, don’t stress, don’t obsess…just move forward and keep yourself open for the sure connection ahead that awaits you.