There is a troubling trend in business, as in dating, often referred to as “ghosting.” Ghosting is defined as the practice of ending a (personal) relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication. Notice this says a “personal” relationship. It’s happening in business too. I believe it’s not just business, it’s also personal. And it’s not just personal, it’s also business.
What you do, you do.
If you do it in business, you do it in your personal life. And guess what, there’s crossover. Oh, is there ever.
Here’s what I’ve noticed in all my years of freelancing. Ghosting. Going dark after one “date” or meeting. And I realize, this post, this blog, well, I write it in part to gain clients. I write it to endear prospects to me. This one may not do that. I’m OK with that.
I believe that if someone takes the time with you for 15, or 30, or 45 minutes in some cases, to learn about your business, then develops a proposal tailored to your business, you can honor them with a “No, thank you.” You could even give a reason, but are certainly not obligated to do so. Going completely dark, however, is disrespectful. Their time was given freely and with good intent.
“That’s how the game is played, it’s just business,” you say. Right on both counts. And are you of enough integrity to honor that with an “I’m going with someone else.” Or “This is out of my price range.” Or “I didn’t like your style after all.” Feedback is important in this business. Emptiness is not.
Many might say I need to grow a thicker skin, get used to it, suck it up, etc. Listen, I’m used to it, but honestly, I don’t want a thicker skin. I don’t want to live in a world where it is expected that people communicate with one another that way.
When I was dating after my divorce, I was the one who replied to every guy (unless they were rude, crude or abusive). I was careful to follow up with someone if we’d had contact: chat, phone and certainly in person. If there was an overture on his part asking for more and I didn’t want more, I’d say so, in a kind way so that he would know. Leaving someone hanging without information seemed rude to me. I was told I was showing my age and that’s just “how it’s done these days.” Well, then, I showed my age.
If I ever ask you to do a proposal for me, and I decide not to take it, I will tell you “no.” I will be kind, but you’ll know where you stand.
Do you like to know where you stand?
It’s about integrity. It may seem efficient, and as if you are inflicting less pain by ghosting or going dark. You’re not. You are taking an easy way out, not owning your actions, and leaving things hanging. It’s a small world and what happens when you cross paths with that person again? “Oh, right, we had that proposal outstanding. . . .” If you’d said, “No, thank you, I’m going with someone else” you could hold your head high knowing you didn’t just ditch them, and they could feel confident their email didn’t get lost in cyberspace, or their prices weren’t too high, or who knows what. We make up crazy stories when we don’t hear the real reasons for things. So be honest.
You’ll make someone’s day by telling them “No,” and, you’ll feel better about yourself.