The Cowardice of Professional Ghosting

Updated: Mar 12

In an era when people demand more voice, isn’t it curious that so many professionals choose to adopt a ‘ghosting’ strategy as a matter of convenience. Is this new norm a question of busyness, laziness or just old-fashioned rudeness?


Once upon a time, it was an old boyfriend or girlfriend who ghosted you. After a bad date, they’d pretend you didn’t exist. No return of phone calls. You simply no longer existed. That’s what many teenagers did. And it was accepted even if not very pleasant.


Then we grew up. And some paid a price for error. Comedian Roseanne Barr posted a drink-fuelled late night anti-Semitic tweet and her TV career was over. CNBC cancelled her show.


A UK KPMG chairmam told his staff during the pandemic to ‘stop whining‘. And before long, he was out. Cancelled by his partners.


Russia savagely invades a neighbor on a whim. The world bestows unilateral sanctions, unusually speaking in one voice. Cancelled by corporates and countries.


Today, social media decides you’re cancelled. One insensitive email and that’s it. People pour so much scorn on you so much that you cancel yourself. You take a Twitter holiday!


But what about professional salespeople, recruitment agents, casting agents or book agents? How do they communicate with clients, candidates, actors or writers that they just don’t want to dissappoint? Yes, they cancel you. No replies, no follow-ups, no consideration for the hopeful on the other end.


Is it cruel, cowardice or simple convenience?


How many times have you waited for a recruitment agent or potential buyer to respond to your request for feedback on your performance? Have you got the job or not? Have you got the sale or not? You may have been part of a sales beauty parade and made an advertising pitch. How long do you have to wait to deduce you haven’t got the gig? You are expected to read between the lines and deduce your own failure. Really?


I am in my third career and still cannot fathom how inconsiderate business people can be. Was I like that too? I hope not - but will let others judge.


Why is it acceptable that ghosting is part of a professional repertoire?


Information avoidance explains some of this. People don’t like to hear or deliver bad new. So they don’t!