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Ghosting is a practice — often grounded in technology-based romantic communication — in which two individuals exchange messages, and one simply stops responding with no explanation. The potential for a partner to ghost often brings with it intense scrutiny of what message to send and when to send it. In her New York Times column, Rachel Fields acknowledges the anxiety that results from ghosting. “Isn’t it a little rude to get a text from a woman you’ve been dating for two weeks and not even acknowledge it? How hard can it be to fire off a blushing smiley emoji or a four-word answer?”
These parallels also apply to modern-day business communication. Often, communication will simply go dark — perhaps after an initial business meeting, proposal stage or otherwise. Here’s how adopting a no-ghosting policy and establishing digital communication norms can help your personal and professional relationships. I instituted this policy both at my company and in my personal life.
1. Personal connections often turn into business connections.
Personal connections often turn into business connections. If you find that you would like to leverage a connection of Matt’s in June and you didn’t respond to a text message from him in February asking to grab coffee and catch up, you can almost guarantee that your ask for a business connection will come off as transactional. Treat those around you with respect, and respond to messages when you can. Even small gestures like reaching out to old clients or friends to wish them a happy birthday can make a big difference. As Harvey Mackay said, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty”.
2. Each person in your life may have different communication preferences and needs. Take these into account without overwhelming yourself.
Establishing communication norms in person and responding to messages with what you truly mean (without dancing around the point) lead to authenticity and intention within modern relationships, both personal and professional. Clear and consistent communication helps to close deals faster and maintain mutually beneficial relationships. When establishing relationships with new clients, friends or otherwise, it is important to discuss individual communication norms. For example, one of my clients is much more reachable via text message. Another prefers phone calls. A discussion matching your communication preferences with the other party’s can help avoid communication headaches in the future. These discussions should be ongoing, as preferences can evolve with new technologies and different schedules.
3. Respond to messages — with some exceptions.
A no-ghosting policy doesn’t mean you have to respond to every mass email or group text that you get. It means that if you have a pre-existing connection with someone, respond to their message within a timely manner, or transition it to another form of communication. For example, if someone is texting you and you don’t like texting throughout the day but would like to catch up, set a date to grab coffee. If you are no longer interested in a potential business partner’s proposal, tell them. If a client is emailing you several times about a project and you are stuck in a thread of back and forth, suggest a meeting. Ghosting can cause hard feelings and lost deals, and you want to establish a level of professionalism with those around you.
4. Approach digital communication with authenticity.
In 2018, so much of our personal and professional lives transpires through a screen. Due to this, authenticity in digital communication is of paramount importance. When you approach digital communication with authenticity, it means you portray yourself the same way through a screen as you do in real life. For example, if you earnestly promise to follow up with someone in person, stick to your word when transitioning the interaction to digital communication. Do so through text message or email or whichever means of digital interaction you have normalized with the other party. Some of the benefits of intentional, authentic digital communication are higher satisfaction in relationships (personal and professional), decreased anxiety related to digital communication and establishing a strong personal brand associated with clear and intentional interactions.
January 9, 2019 at 08:39AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs