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Ghosting is abusive and damages reputations and brands


In the 2009 romantic comedy. Ghosts of ex-girlfriends, Matthew McConaughey’s character Connor is a notorious flirt who burns and divorces women without notice

The film brings back the living ghosts of the three women he rejected and how his behavior affected their respect and lives.

In Hollywood “happy ending” style, Connor realizes the error of his ways. He admits he was a complete jerk. It culminates in his commitment to change his attitude and behavior.

Now I’ll bet I’ll drink chocolate and wine every year Marketing the reader has been ghosted and/or has been ghosted professionally and personally.

I can hear the gulps as my eyes dart across the screen, contemplating ethereal behavior.

The prevalence of halos

Ghosts is a pure and simple solution! It’s not about being forgetful or careless. It is a conscious decision to ignore and dismiss another person. This is a form of abuse.

Ghosting isn’t just the realm of dating, friendships, and relationships. This has become a common and lazy response in business, marketing, and has certainly been around for a long time in the recruiting and hiring ecosystem.

Personal and business brand reputation and trust are at stake. Memories can be long. Today, ghosts can be in a position where they rush to ghosts. It won’t do any good!

Ghost customers-suppliers, ghost-suppliers-customers. Colleagues ghost each other, the list is endless.

The appalling level of candidate ghosting by recruiters, staffing and hiring companies is well documented and lamented. The damage it does can be powerful on many levels.

But in today’s talent-scarce market, when companies are scrambling to fill vacancies, candidates are ghosting recruiters and hiring companies.

They are ghosts at all times after the initial application, right through to the proposal and contract stages.

The rebuttal is often “so what! Candidates are constantly throwing ghosts, who cares, now it’s our turn.” Oops, it’s just not on because the situation changes and two wrongs never make a right.

Caution: If a person is abusive or dangerous, that’s a fair reason to ignore/ghost. But the other 98 percent of the time, he fails the pub test for professional decency.

Why people are ghosts

An aversion to difficult conversations and unsolicited feedback is a major reason why people ghost. Fear of backlash, along with a lack of communication skills and a problem-solving equalizer, also drives ghosting behavior.

When ghosting occurs because of a change of mind or decision, it can cause self-doubt and low self-esteem. This can mean that the ghost realizes that they haven’t thought anything through, and that can be a hard pill to admit and swallow.

  1. Lack of communication skills to have difficult conversations
  2. Conflict is unfavorable – avoids all conflicts because he is afraid of the consequences
  3. Lazy or arrogant with low EQ
  4. Little or no compassion or concern for others
  5. “Get out of jail free” attitude because there are seemingly no immediate consequences
  6. Guilt of conscience. There is no way to apologize or make amends

In her book Dare to lead – says Brené Brown “To be clear is good, but to be unclear is not good”: How it means why people are ghosts is valuable information.

Brené shares the reason people avoid giving feedback is “avoidance of clarity because we tell ourselves we are good; when what we are really doing is unkindness and injustice.’

“Feeding people half-truths or nonsense to make themselves feel better (which is almost always about making ourselves feel more comfortable) is unkind.”

I can see how this might speak to why risk-averse people are ghosts. They don’t want to be unkind to another person by sharing their truth. So they share nothing and ghosts. Not a good strategy for either side.

The influence of halos

The effects can range from minor and temporarily irritating to debilitating and devastating in the long term. You never know where someone is and if your behavior was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Or you just pissed them off and they move on.

Effects include:

  1. Emotional, mental health and faith/self-esteem
  2. Waste of money and time for candidates and businesses
  3. Damages reputation, destroys trust
  4. Business productivity and resources are limited

How to mitigate and stop it

  1. Recognize that ghosting is a form of abuse.
  2. Take a third-person perspective on self-reflection.
  3. Pledge courage and ethics in your personal brand communications.
  4. Call it out when you observe other people in your agency or organization showing people. Like racism, sexism speaks.
  5. Learn to have difficult and uncomfortable conversations. There are so many resources available to support better communication and strategies to support change and uncomfortable change.

The world of marketing has some of the best communicators and creative people. There are so many ways to level up and share challenging feedback and news. Ghosts just aren’t good enough. Personal brands and business reputations are at stake.

Save the ghosts for kids’ parties and Halloween!


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