The Digital Demise Of Common Courtesy

Have you been ghosted recently?

For those unfamiliar with the term, “ghosting” is the practice of suddenly cutting all ties and communication with no explanation, use of which  grew in popularity with millennials and their dating habits.

This phenomenon has now crept its way into corporate America with a vengeance and is changing the way we conduct business.

While there are certainly many advantages to digital communication, the 24/7, faceless nature of emails also make it easy to go dark. I began witnessing this firsthand a few years ago but did not pay it too much attention. Now, I consider it an epidemic of bad behavior.

Most recently, after great meetings and an ongoing dialogue with a potential client, we followed up with a customized proposal. And then the games began as they went totally silent. 

It was a frustrating position to be in, since all previous conversations were very positive -- and, more importantly, we had been recommended by a mutual business associate. The hardest part for me was obsessing over the “why.”



What ever happened to the simple courtesy of saying “thank you, but we have decided not to move forward,” or “we don’t think it will be a good fit”?

“When no response becomes the default response, something is terribly wrong...We are losing the art of face-to-face connection and that makes it a lot easier to ‘drop off’ and not bother getting back to contacts.”   --writer Julia Ries

I don’t understand how responsible professionals think it's okay to just completely disappear, especially those you have done business with in the past! Have the business etiquette rules changed so much that it’s now perceived as acceptable? Is it too late to bring humanity back in business communications -- or have we already fallen off the cliff and this trend is here to stay?
Exactly why is this happening? It’s easy to blame the internet and technology. After all, our email mail boxes are stuffed with 100 people wanting to sell us something daily, and we’re bombarded with unsolicited calls on our cell phones.

But that answer seems too simplistic. I believe it’s much deeper and demonstrates the breakdown of values in general.  

According to a recent article by Anna Akbari on Swaay, “Technology makes communication easier than ever, which collectively lowers our value of the individual interactions.”

I have witnessed a lot in my 20+ years in business, and have seen the practice of ghosting come back to haunt the perpetrators as paths crisscross throughout our careers -- from a corporate employee who ignored your follow-up calls in his previous life, now in a new chapter, who doesn’t understand why folks won’t take a meeting with him, to a millennial who thought he knew it all, but is now looking for your advice and wisdom.

“Whether you’re unconsciously or deliberately ghosting someone, it leaves a negative perception and frustration on the part of the person who is NOT hearing back from you. And you never know how that may circle back on you in your career," according to a post on the Integreship blog.

Let’s kick off the new year on the right foot and appreciate the value of everyone’s time and effort. It only takes a minute to write a quick, courteous email to update people on your status.  I think we can all agree that you can find a minute in your day to do the right thing. Let’s all do better!

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications