There is a troubling trend in business, as in dating, known as “ghosting.” Ghosting is ending a relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication. It happens professionally and personally. 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
Here’s what I’ve noticed in all my years of working for myself. Ghosting happens often. Going dark after one meeting happens.
Consider the Discovery Call. I believe that if someone takes time with you for 15 or 30 minutes to learn about your business and develops a proposal tailored to your business, you can honor them with a “No, thank you.” You can even give a reason but are certainly not obligated to do so. Going completely dark 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 don’t think we’re a fit.” Feedback is important in business. A vacuum is not.
Oh, Grow Up
Many might say I need a thicker skin, to get used to it, to suck it up. I’m used to it but honestly, I don’t want a thicker skin. I don’t want to operate in a world where it’s OK to communicate with one another that way.
When I dated after my divorce, I replied to every guy (unless they were rude, crude or abusive). I followed up if we’d had contact, chat, phone, and certainly in person. 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.
Where Do You Stand?
It’s about integrity. It may seem efficient and as if you are inflicting less pain by ghosting. You’re not. You are taking the easy way out and not owning your actions. It’s a small world and what happens when you cross paths again? “Oh, right, we had that proposal outstanding. . . .” If you’d said, “No, thank you” you could hold your head high knowing you didn’t ditch them, and they could feel confident their email didn’t get lost in spam, or their prices weren’t too high, or who knows what. We make up stories when we don’t hear the real reasons for things. So be honest.
Make someone’s day by telling them “No,” and feel better about yourself too.