By Jae Ellard, Simple Intentions Founder and CEO
If you have recently been in communication with someone and they ceased contact with you without any warning or justification, and ignored your attempts to reconnect — you’ve been ghosted. It’s a phenomenon that started in the online dating world that has been creeping its way into everyday life as an acceptable means of communication (or lack of). It’s time for us to ghost ghosting.
Most commonly ghosting occurs in relationships that use digital tools as the primary source of communication, such as text message or e-mail. Two people are in communication, when one person, for whatever reason, decides they are done with the relationship and disengages with no context or warning to the other person.
This passive-aggressive and dismissive behavior is on the way to becoming a new type of normal for navigating and managing modern relationships. It’s the equivalent of someone walking away from an in-person conversation while the other person is still talking — an act that most people know is disrespectful and would not likely do, however when done digitally it has somehow become acceptable.
This is not to say that all relationships need to go on indefinitely and that people don’t come and go out of our lives. However, this means that it’s possible to not be interested in continuing, building or deepening a relationship and be respectful of the other person at the same time.
Before you ghost on someone consider some of the following options for more respectful ways to alter the course of your relationships at work, at home and in your personal life.
Examples of ghosting at work are when people attempt to connect with clients, peers and partners and receive no acknowledgement from the recipient of the message. When we do eventually connect, it’s common to hear things like, “I have too many e-mails and didn’t see it”, “I was too busy to respond”, or the ever more common, “it must have gone into my junk folder.” If you are not interested in the transaction at hand, say so, for example, “thanks for the message, we don’t need this service at this time”, or “interesting, we will review and get back to you in a few months.” A no, a not yet, a not now are better ways of building trust and relationships than no response.
Ghosting also happens within family communication too. How many of you blow off texts from your parents (telling you they sent you an e-mail) or glance at a link from a sibling and never acknowledge it? Taking a few seconds to say — “thanks, got it”, “will look at it later”, or even to say, “text isn’t the best way to share info with me”, will go a long way in helping to support family relationships that may already be fragile.
Within friendships circles, group texts can be long and annoying so it may feel easier to ignore it then to ask to be removed, but being honest in the long run will better support the foundation of the friendship. It’s easy to take friendships for granted and ignore a message or two knowing you’ll talk soon and it will be “ok”. That said, over time little instances where a person feels disrespected by lack of communication can chip away at the foundation of a relationship.
Lastly, for dating situations where one party has decided the other isn’t a romantic match, a phone call is suggested. If one must text, a message like, “my feelings have shifted”, “I’m not in a place to continue building something with you”, or “I’ve met someone else” are a kinder, more graceful way to disengage with someone whom at one time you took a fancy to.
Ghosting (or any vague inconsistent communication for that matter) will NOT help to build, nurture or repair ANY relationship and speaks volumes about the character of the ghoster. (Think about it, when is it ever acceptable to totally dismiss another human being and would you want to be known as that person?)
Be clear about the type and quality of communication you deserve as well as the type and quality of communication (or lack of it) you put into this world. Your behavior has an impact each day on every person with which you interact. The choice is yours.