Ghosting is not fun for anyone. Not in personal relationships and certainly not in the workplace or any other professional environment.
Business professionals are concerned about this new trend among candidates who stop replying to their emails, don’t show up to scheduled interviews, don’t arrive on the first day of work, or even quit without proper notice beforehand. This ‘trend’ is now commonly referred to as “ghosting” in the workplace.
What is “Ghosting”?
In the dating world, ghosting definition is when someone ends a relationship by stopping all interpersonal communication with a partner without any warning or explanation. However, this practice has recently become popular even in the professional environment with people shutting down all mediums of communications. Instead of facing the unpleasant conversations, employees and employers prefer to avoid such meetings and simply disappear from the scene altogether. The phrase also applies to employers in the company who often ghost candidates by not keeping them informed about their application status.
Since everything moved online in 2020, it has become easier for business professionals to shut down communications, especially in the recruitment sector – some candidates wouldn’t hear from the recruiter even after very extensive three stages of interview. Young people or millennials starting on their jobs can find the whole process disheartening. It must be very difficult for young professionals to find their first job since they aren’t receiving neither feedback nor replies.
Professional ghosting can also happen in internal situations of a workplace where your boss might conveniently lose the message when an employee asks them for a performance review or a raise. Or when a colleague is avoiding someone at work because they haven’t completed their share of the work in a project.
Ghosting actually happened within our organisation as well. Currently, we’re running Skills Bootcamp where we offer free tech training in software development, software testing and data analysis. Although the majority of our learners proved themselves to be fantastic and most communicative, we’ve also had a few people signing up, filling long and difficult forms, and then disappearing straight after they got admitted to the Bootcamp.
To clarify, withdrawing applications to our Bootcamps is permissible, but shutting down all communication in the middle seems like a huge waste of time and effort. In online professional spaces like LinkedIn, where digital communication works, this seems to happen a lot too, where people don’t respond to genuine messages.
Whatever the scenario might be, it is widely believed that ghosting isn’t a good way to deal with people.
Why is everyone doing that out of a sudden?
“There are not many actual published papers on ghosting,” according to Tara Collins, an associate professor of psychology at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina. But as research continues on ghosting, psychologists have begun to draw on what they know about the psychology of relationships.
The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships published a study in 2018 where they evaluated 1300 people to study ghosting. They found that a quarter of the participants had been ghosted by a partner and one-fifth said that they had ghosted someone themselves.
Here are a few possible reasons why people decide to ghost at work:
● Employees lack professionalism. It might be more straightforward for someone to avoid awkward conversations and block a recruiter.
● Employees might feel uncomfortable or even unsafe about discussing their resignation. This might be the case if their manager reacted badly or even threateningly to past conversations of quitting. In this case, an employer might feel it more comfortable to leave the company without explaining.
● Employees don’t understand the difficulty or the cost of hiring someone to replace them. It costs the company a lot of money and time to recruit a new candidate, and the employee might not think it’s necessary to inform anyone of their decision.
● Employees don’t want to be coaxed into staying at a job they no longer love. For example, if any employee has started working for a new company, they wouldn’t want their manager to persuade them to stay until their replacement is found. Instead, the employee’s simple decision would be to avoid the discussion in the first place itself.
● Sometimes employees are angry or dissatisfied at their workplace. There’s a possibility that an employee might ghost a recruiter or an employer because they were not happy with something that occurred during the interview or something that happened in the workplace.
So What Should You Do When You Get Ghosted?
Even if a recruiter or an employee does all the right things, there’s still a chance that they might get ghosted at work. If that happens, some steps can be taken to better deal with the situation.
- Follow up.
Reach out to the person via email at least twice before giving up on the lead or the opportunity and moving on. It’s better to be professional and not desperate in the email with sentences like “I hate to be a pest” or “sorry to bother you.”
- Remember, rejection is redirection.
Another way to look at it is that the rejection means that someone or a company wasn’t right for them, and someone or something else will work out better for them. Since most people wouldn’t want to work with somebody or for an inconsiderate company, it might be considered a blessing in disguise to be ignored even after two follow-up emails.
- Set up a formal meeting, if possible.
Try booking time on the calendar with your boss or colleague if ghosting occurs within a workplace. People find it challenging to be dodgy when an actual appointment has been booked well in advance.
- Send a goodbye email.
If it’s a client who is ignoring you, then your best bet would be to send a professional email that won’t burn any bridges for the future. Write that you’re disappointed that you won’t be together in the long run but that you’re always willing to pick up where you left off if they have a change of heart in the future. It’s better to show appreciation for the past work and the opportunity than be silent and bitter about the rejection.
- Keep your cool to protect your reputation.
Always keep in mind that you only have control over your own life and not over someone else’s decision because the last thing you would want is to ruin your reputation in your professional sphere. Your reputation and work ethic is your most important asset.
There’s not much anyone can do once they have been ghosted in the workplace, but there are some steps to ensure that it happens less often. Employers can create a good work environment with effective communication where employees feel safe discussing any issue that’s bothering them.
Building a culture based on an open-door policy will ensure that your employees will respect you and respond when it’s time for them to leave the company. The employer might also build a talent pool and improve retention so that fewer employees will think of quitting in the first place. Controlling other people’s nature is not in anyone’s hands so rejection from the business professionals should never be taken personally.