What is business ghosting?
According to Wikipedia, ghosting is ‘the practice of ending communication and contact with another person without any apparent warning or justification and subsequently ignoring any attempts to reach out or communication made by said person’.
Primarily used as a term in the dating world, the practice of ghosting can also be found in other forms of human interaction. In the past few years we’ve been witnessing the rise of ghosting in the business world – the so-called business ghosting.
There are 2 distinct types of business ghosting.
The first one is the employer-employee ghosting.
It occurs in various situations like when an employee gets hired, but never starts working; or when an employee quits their job without any notice and stops showing up to work; or when an employer doesn’t contact a job candidate after an interview; or when an employer doesn’t notify job candidates they didn’t get the job; etc.
I would even go as far as to argue that not responding to open job applications is also a form of employer-employee ghosting.
The other type of ghosting is business-business ghosting.
It mainly occurs when one business stops interacting with another, after they have already established some form of relationship. It can be as basic as one business not responding to another business’ pitch/offer, or as extreme as one business completely stopping all communication with a partner/client. In this category I don’t include examples like not answering automated emails/cold email bots/spam offers, etc. since I don’t find them pertinent to this topic.
Why is ghosting bad for your business?
If you are a decision-maker in your business, you are probably a very busy person.
Not only do you need to take care of all your day-to-day challenges, you also need to cultivate your profiles in the ever-growing social media sphere. Do your work, check your emails, write a comment on LinkedIn, post something on Twitter, message your aunt on Facebook, and it’s suddenly midnight! Where did the hours go? Forgetting to respond to someone’s business offer or job application can happen easily.
To err is human. However, it is problematic when ghosting turns into your modus operandi.
It shows you lack basic business etiquette, and you’re sending the message that you don’t care about other people and their time.
Such behavior can not only endanger your future business relationships, but your current ones as well. If the stigma of being a ‘ghoster’ attaches to you, your business partners might change their opinion about you.
There’s rarely a situation in which it is prudent to burn bridges with another person. You never know when you might encounter that person again.
The job applicant you didn’t bother informing they didn’t get the job might turn out to be the perfect candidate in a few years or so. But of course, by then it will be too late. There’s a slim chance that person will be willing to work for a business that ghosted them before. It is the same when not responding to another business’ pitch/offer.
Always try to be empathetic and put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
Almost all of us have been in a situation where we were waiting for an answer to a job application or a business offer. Would you enjoy being left in the dark? That’s why I personally reply to every open job application we receive, even though Adonomy might not be hiring at that moment.
How to prevent ghosting?
Ghosting is a ‘simple’ way of solving problems.
If you are a person who likes to avoid conflicts, or finds it hard to say ‘no’, you are not cut out to be a decision-maker in your business. That should come as a natural part of your job.
Communicate openly and honestly with everyone and anyone – be it with employees or other businesses.
Most people would rather hear negative news than hear nothing at all and be left hanging.
A good tip when delivering bad news is to mention the possibility of working together in the future. Even if you are only being polite and there is a slim chance of you working together, sentences like that can go a long way.
If you are one of those people who find the job hiring process to be tedious and time-consuming, try to simplify it rather than not responding to all the candidates. You can create an email template to use whenever you have to decline a job offer. People would much rather receive a template response than no response at all.
Also, if possible, try to delegate your work. Just because it inconveniences your life, doesn’t mean you need to complicate other peoples’ lives as well.
Ghosting, the process of abruptly ending all communication with another person, is becoming more popular in the business world. Such behavior can have long-lasting negative consequences on your business.
If you work as a decision-maker, you should do everything you can to avoid ghosting, be it in your employer-employee relationships, or business-business relationships.
While answering every email and maintaining interpersonal communication might be tiresome, it is more reasonable than throwing your business’ reputation down the drain.