Do you know what ghosting is?
It started with online dating, but the practice of disappearing in the middle of a project you’re working on, or a job interview you’re in the middle of, is now widespread. It’s a sickening trend and its end is not now in sight.
The LinkedIn post I made about ghosting in the workplace received over 3300 views and eight comments. Based on the interest in the topic, and based on my own experiences, I am inclined to believe that the practice is growing increasingly common, which does nothing to lessen the sting or stupefaction.
On the receiving end of a ghost inaction, there is anger but the anger doesn’t rise until one exhausts themselves with the mystery of it all. Marty Nemko, Ph.D., weighs in on the impact of the inhumane practice.
Getting ghosted can make you feel unimportant. It could even reinforce your worry that you’re an unworthy human being. There’s no way to avoid such a feeling at that first moment you’re thinking you’ve been ghosted—that’s a reflex. But after that, you have some control over your thinking and behavior.
For me, the control I exercise is removing the person from my mind and my machines. When the offender opts to digitally disappear, what choice does one have but to let them go?
Screens Are False Itermediaries
Digital culture and the proliferation of screens are largely responsible for advancing this bad behavior. We hide inside or behind our screens and feel safe there. The biggest bullies do this, and the most frightened of mice.
Screens are the obvious physical impediment, but there’s a deeper problem in our culture. Fear of confrontation is poison.
You might think that fear of failure would the fear that rocks one’s boat, but no. “Fail Harder” and “Fail Faster” are calls to action for the tech worker and thought worker today. Failing is just fine, what’s not fine is feeling vulnerable or exposed in the public sphere. Hence, the obsessive need to manicure our identities and post the carefully-curated results to our vanity sites.
Why? To control the perception of self.
The Supremely Arrogant Do Not Factor Reputation
A company who ghosts a job candidate is a company with poor practices and a company that will suffer a hit to their reputation. The inverse is also true, a candidate who ghosts a hiring manager mid-stream is also playing with fire. Yet, one thing is utterly clear to anyone who has been ghosted: the ghost cares nothing at all about his or her reputation or the company’s reputation.
One of the more perplexing (and interesting) aspects of ghosting is how digital promotes networks and transparency, but this fact appears to be lost on the ghost. In other words, an aggrieved party today has all the tools in the world to speak up and damage the ghost. The ghost is either unaware of any possible blowback or totally removed from the idea that they are responsible for anything, ever.
It’s easy to say the world is full of petty narcissists, today. It’s much harder to actually understand this anti-social behavior and know what to do about it. People are clearly frightened to speak openly or honestly. Bashing them over the head with nasty voicemails and email monologues may not be the most productive route to take.
How have you dealt with this problem in the past? How will you deal with it the next time it occurs?