Simon Erskine Locke, Founder & CEO of CommunicationsMatchTM
You email someone you know in a business context – a communications professional – and you don’t hear back.
The mind starts spiraling down the path of alternatives. Are they are ignoring you? You did something wrong? Are you being an annoyance? Are they are too busy to respond? Did the email get caught up in spam? Are they on vacation? Could they have caught COVID? Are they in the hospital or worse?
You need to decide. Do I follow up or give up? Do I get annoyed? Do I think the worst or the best? Do I put on my Halloween costume, party like it’s 1999, and move on?
Hold on a moment. Aren’t communicators supposed to communicate?
If you send an email to someone you believe you have a relationship with, about something that would only take a minute or two to acknowledge, and you don’t receive a response, that really rankles. Especially, when it’s a communicator.
Of course, this assumes there’s alignment between what we think is important and what the ghoster thinks is important. It rarely is. It also assumes that those we are engaging aren’t drowning in email.
While it’s never a bad thing to give the benefit of the doubt to ghosters or to ask ourselves, is what I am sharing or the request I am making adding value or noise, there’s no doubt a little courtesy and communication goes a long way.
Ghosting is in part a response to the overwhelming amount of communication – wanted and unwanted – we receive.
But we should also be real here. There are corporate communications departments that choose to ghost reporters. And, there are individual communicators and professionals who find it easier to ghost than to engage.
In explanations of why people ghost in their personal communications, one of the common themes is ghosting is an immature response to an uncomfortable situation. It’s easier to shut down, than respond. There’s a potential excuse – if I believe the person I’m communicating with cannot handle the truth, do I want to share it?
In a work context, we cannot respond to every email. But, applying the simple mantra of treating those with whom we have relationships in the same way we would want to be treated is at the core of being professional.
Being honest and direct with others is invaluable because it saves time for both parties. We’d all rather hear a “no” or “no interest” than nothing at all. Most of us can handle the truth. In fact, truth does set us free. And, frankly it is more efficient for all concerned.
We are all on career and life journeys. The most respected people I know and seek to emulate are those who take a minute to respond, who give a minute or more to others to help them on their paths.
This Halloween, don’t be a ghost.
CommunicationsMatch™ offers communications & PR agency search tools and resources that help companies find, shortlist, and engage communications, digital marketing and branding agencies, consultants and freelancers by industry and communications expertise, location and size. The site has 6,000 agency and professional profiles in areas including: crisis communications, public relations, internal communications, government affairs, investor relations, content marketing, social media, SEO, website development, photography and video. Prior to founding CommunicationsMatch, Locke held senior corporate communications roles at Prudential Financial, Morgan Stanley, and Deutsche Bank and founded communications consultancies.