29 Apr 👻 Ghosting, Reconsidered…
Is ghosting always a negative thing? In times past, we tended to think that there was never an acceptable time or circumstance to simply vanish. Yet technology has changed the culture so much and, like it or not, a lot of our interactions and more fleeting and transactional than ever.
✔️ How much do we owe other people? If you had one date with a person, do you need to write them a doctoral dissertation on why you’d rather not see them again?
✔️ Some situations will be painful and awkward no matter what, whether you rip the band-aid off quickly or you write a treatise about it.
✔️ We live in an era of hook-up apps and transactional everything– partners, jobs, friends, purchases, etc., etc. We can either lament that and cry in our beer or we can accept reality.
✔️ Ask yourself this: will this change anything? You don’t necessarily need to walk away without saying anything at all, but in my experience, people are who they are. If you try to sit someone down and say, “I feel neglected by you” or “I feel like you ask a lot of me as a friend but don’t do much in return,” they may shape up for a little while, but they often revert to their previous behavior because… people are who they are!
Link to the article I mention in this episode: https://medium.com/the-dot-non-fiction/in-defense-of-ghosting-when-no-response-is-the-right-response-f426e8114972
Need more? Email me: https://causeyconsultingllc.com/contact-causey/
Transcription by Otter.ai. Please forgive any typos!
Hello, hello and welcome to today’s episode of the Causey Consulting podcast. I’m your host Sara Causey and I’m also the owner of Causey Consulting, which you can find online anytime at Causey Consulting llc.com. I’m going to call this episode ghosting reconsidered. And I think over the course of the episode, I’m going to manage to simultaneously be progressive and modern, yet also an old fogy. Historically, we’ve thought about ghosting as this terrible, awful thing, like one of the worst things that you can do to another person is to just vanish. And in thinking about it now, in 2021, I really think the answer is it depends. It depends on the circumstances, the people involved the situation, the level of intimacy, or lack thereof, like what are the circumstances behind the ghosting. But I think just making the blanket statement of it is always wrong to vanish. everybody around you deserves an explanation for everything all the time. That’s crazy. Technology has changed the landscape relationships have changed. And I think this is kind of where the old fogy part of my personality is going to come out. The entitlement mentality has also changed the framework of things. Is every single person that you meet entitled to know every detail about your life? Or are they entitled to an explanation, if you just decide, I don’t really want to hang out with them anymore? That is not my cup of tea, or, you know, I went out on one date with this person, it didn’t go very well, I don’t want to see them again, do you owe them like a doctoral dissertation about why you want to go away and not be bothered, again? Respectfully, I just don’t think so. Whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not. So many facets of our life are much more transactional than they used to be. Like, I was thinking earlier about some of the marketing tactics and some of the things that I was taught some of the phrases that got bandied about during the early days of my staffing career. And it’s funny, because, you know, that’s only been about 11 years ago, yet, if we look at it in the context of 2021. So many of the things that I was taught at that time, even though I’m not talking about oh, I learned how to recruit back in, you know, 1904, I learned how to do it 1011 years ago, it sounds tone deaf and ridiculous. Now, that’s how much technology has changed the way that we do business. I remember back in 2004, when Greg Brent published the book, he’s just not that into you. And those of us who were in our 20s and actively in the dating pool at that point in time, we’re like, Oh, thank God, somebody is finally just laying it all out. And one of the chapters in that book talks about vanishing, like a guy is clearly not that committed to you and the relationship if he just disappears with no explanation. You don’t have to wonder if he’s dead. If he got conscripted or kidnapped somewhere, you know, did he fall off a cliff? There are those you know, tragic emergency situations in life. Lord knows I’ve watched enough episodes of like dateline or 48 hours to know that unfortunately, in life, sometimes someone vanishes because of foul play. And that’s a horrible thing. However, it’s typically not what’s going on more often than not, you’ve just been ghosted. And it used to be that you looked at somebody who pulled a stunt like that as a real piece of crap. Like, man, this person has no respect that they would just just vanish, they would just bail. They wouldn’t even have the courtesy to say, Hey, I don’t want to see you anymore. Or this isn’t working for me that this isn’t what I want. worth the old standby. You know, it’s not you, it’s me, I need to go off to the wilderness and think about myself for a while. They just go. And I think it’s safe to say, you know, a pretty timeless message, in my opinion is regardless of gender or orientation or the nature of the relationship. If the person leaves you guessing they want to play head games today. I love you tomorrow. I hate you. I can’t live without you. I think you’re awful, or they vanish on you. They don’t treat you appropriately. They make you feel awful about yourself, then it ultimately doesn’t matter if that person is quote into you or not. You don’t need to be into them. You deserve to be with someone who treats you well and who genuinely wants to be there. Like they, they like you for who you are, they enjoy your company. And they’re not interested in playing games, they don’t want to make you worried. They’re they don’t want all the guesswork. They want to make sure that you know that they are down for you, they care, and they have a true emotional investment. Some people say breakups suck, whether it’s the dissolution of a Platonic friendship, or it’s the end of a romance, the end of a marriage, it sucks, it’s going to be painful, no matter what. So if someone you’ve been out on a couple of dates with just go shoo, they just vanish into the ether, and you don’t hear anything from them again, or whether they call you and say, now it’s not you, it’s me, I just, I don’t really feel like this is a fit, or I’ve decided to get back with my ex, and you’re not in the picture anymore. But thanks, anyway, like, it’s going to hurt when the band aid is ripped off. whether that person does it through a vanishing Act, or whether they sit you down and tell you point A, B, C, and D about why they’re leaving, they’re still leaving, the relationship is still at a close, and you’re still going to go through a grieving process you depending on how long you knew each other how intimate the connection was, you’re still going to feel some type of way about it. So does it matter in the long run, whether the person gave you closure or whether you had to provide closure to yourself? What a Hamlet question To be, or not to be to ghost or not to ghost. I read an article recently on medium.com, called in defense of ghosting when no response is the right response. And one of the things that the author talks about is how she had a friend who was talking about ghosting, I’m just gonna read a brief passage to you from this article, she writes, my friend recently told me that she thought ghosting was literally evil. She wasn’t even referring to ghosting after a first date, she was complaining about a man who had stopped responding to her on Tinder. I found her indictment alarming, but she seemed to think everyone needed an explanation when they disappeared, regardless of how well they knew each other. No one wants to act in a way that’s considered socially unacceptable. But I don’t think it’s always wrong to disappear on a potential partner, it can sometimes be worse to offer someone an explanation of why you don’t want to see them in quote, that’s very interesting. And I’m inclined to agree with the author on that. If someone has just been messaging back and forth with you on a dating app, and they suddenly decide that they’re not interested anymore. Are you owed an explanation from that person? I don’t think so. This goes back in my mind to the transactional nature of things. There are so many apps out there and a lot of them are geared towards the hookup culture. They’re not people on they’re looking for their soulmate, their twin flame, somebody that’s going to grow old with them, somebody that’s going to raise children with them together and really like, man, I see a future for us for years and years to come. You are the one like no, they’re looking for for a right now partner tonight partner, you know, sleazy hook up at the back of the bar at 7pm tonight kind of thing, that they’re not looking for somebody that they are going to bear their soul with and bear children and be together forever. So it’s like if somebody is messaging casually back and forth with you and an app like that, and they go away, do you need to know all the reasons why? I don’t think so. Also, in that article, the author talks about a date that she had, where she and a person that she was matched with on a dating app, were both going to be at the airport on departing flights at about the same time. So they decided to get together and have a meal and some drinks at the airport. After about an hour, this person tells her that he’s decided to opt for early boarding, and he’s going to get his stuff and go. And so the next day, she sends him a sort of conciliatory message saying, hey, it was nice to meet you. I hope you have a good flight. And she didn’t think that he was going to say anything in response. She was just kind of like, you know, hey, you know, thanks. Thanks for an hour long date. hope hope you have probably instead of Hope you have had a nice flight or hope your flight was good just driving and have a nice life, pal. I’m sure I’m never gonna see you again. He responded back. Hey, nice to meet you as well. I don’t see this going anywhere. But I hope you have a good time with your family. And her response to this in the article is had he felt the need to send a breakup text after one short date. I hadn’t even asked him out again. It would have been more polite if he had just not responded in quote. Maybe I’m gonna sound like an old fogy at this part of the episode but I don’t think there’s anything wrong, per se, with someone reaching out and And just being honest and saying, I had a good time, I just don’t see it going anywhere. I don’t feel like there’s anything offensive, rude, cruel, mean spirited about that whatsoever. I think we’ve just gotten so accustomed to people saying no answer is your answer. You know, if you text me and you don’t hear back within two or three hours, it means eff off and go away. Like when somebody does step up, and say, hey, look, I appreciated the date that we had, or I appreciated the meeting, I more even leave we want to talk about in a staffing context, I appreciate you coming in for the interview. But I don’t think that this is going to be a good match. Like when somebody does reach out, and just very candidly say, it’s not gonna happen. Even if they’re being incredibly polite and professional in the way that they’re handling it. People are so unaccustomed to hearing it, that they can get offended, they can get their feelings hurt, they can perceive it as being rude, even though it was not sent in a spirit of meanness or cruelty whatsoever, what you say and the way that you say it may not be received by the recipient in the way you intended it. This the spirit of what you said, might be misinterpreted. I want to read another passage from this article to you because it also dovetails into the business world quite nicely. She writes, a major issue with ghosting is that it forces us to wait, you don’t know right away whether or not you’re going to get another date. We’re all on our phones constantly. Someone who wants to go out again is more than capable of responding to a text within a few hours. If they don’t, you can take it as a no, without having to actually read a rejection text, it may seem like ghosting is the ultimate act of indifference. But is it a text saying, Hey, nice to meet you. But I’m not feeling it any less indifferent. Personally, I feel worse when I have to read a cringe worthy text than when I have to spend a few hours waiting, I find it really easy to distract myself from being ignored. But once someone’s put a rejection of me down in words, I can’t get that image out of my head. Rejection texts also take a long time to arrive, possibly because the man is trying to put it off, I still have to wait. And then I have to read a boilerplate rejection text at which point I’d usually prefer to read nothing in quote, I see both sides of the argument here, truly, because it isn’t fun to read any kind of rejection, whether you’re talking about a rejection letter about a job that you really wanted, you were really interested in somebody that you’ve been out on a couple of dates with, that you enjoyed their company, and you thought it was really going to go somewhere, or even a platonic friend, you know, somebody that maybe you’ve been hanging out with on a regular basis, and it’s just, it’s not working anymore. There’s nothing fun or enjoyable, about having to be rejected. That being said, even if I’m just gonna sit here and play devil’s advocate about the issue, there’s times in life where we have to have a thick skin. I know that that’s not a popular thing to say anymore. Everybody’s supposed to be super sensitive, and where their heart on their sleeve. But sometimes having a thick skin in life is absolutely the way to go. If somebody rejects you, it’s their loss. You have you interviewed for a job. And you you thought you had it in the bag, you felt like everything went well. And then suddenly you get the rejection letter like it’s their loss, you know, you’re never going to know the truth about what happened. Anyway, the odds of them telling you Okay, well, we called a reference on the down low. And john doe said terrible things about you. And that’s why we decided to pull the plug, they’re not going to tell you that, you know, there’s so many legal ramifications that could come from them disclosing that information that they’re not going to do it. Or if Joe, Bob’s son in law in the accounting department, we’ve gotten laid off yesterday, he needs a job and it’s the one that you interviewed for, they’re not going to tell you that either. So you just have to tell yourself even if you fake it till you make it, you just have to tell yourself Well, it’s their loss. You know, there’s that just means there’s something better out there for me, it’s the same thing with dating or with platonic friendships. If somebody that you’ve been tight with ghost you or they they leave the picture, you get a rejection text or you don’t you just move on with your life. You know, there are there are other people out there that do want to be part of your life. And you might be on the other side of things. You know, we’re talking about this from the perspective of the person who gets ghosted, but what about the person who has to do the ghosting the person who has to make the choice of like, Oh, do I sit in something that’s really uncomfortable and awkward as hell or do I just roll? I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the infj door slam. But as an INFJ myself, I can tell you it’s 100% true, it is legendary, but it is not the stuff of legends. It is something that is very real. If you don’t believe me that this phenomenon exists, Google it, just go to Google and put an INFJ door slam and a plethora of articles. will pop up. Now, I don’t do it often. It’s not something that I just go around willy nilly making a habit of. But I will tell you, I’ve had some situations in my life where I had to sit and weigh out, do I want to get this person on the phone or send a dear john type of email saying, I don’t want to hang out anymore. And here’s why that is so awkward and uncomfortable even for somebody as direct and straight up as I am, it is still awkward to have to sit down, you feel like you’re writing an indictment going, okay? Well, on March the fourth, you ignored me at the picnic. And on March the fifth, you told me I looked fat in my dress, and that really hurt my feelings. Like it’s, it feels so awkward and so weird to have to do that. And here’s another side of the argument I want to present. Does it really change anything? People are who they are. And any time I’ve been in a friendship situation where I felt like somebody was a crappy friend, maybe they were ignoring me, they weren’t supportive, or they were high drama, you know, the type of person they want to call you at two o’clock in the morning because they have a hangnail. But if you’re stranded with a flat tire at two o’clock in the afternoon, they’re nowhere to be found, they’re not going to help you, they’re not going to be down for you in a crisis. But you better be receptive to every melodrama in their life, or you’re just a crap friend. People like that, if you sit down and tell them, you know, here are all the ways that you’ve ignored me, here are all the ways I’ve supported you and been down for you as a friend. And here are all the ways that you’ve ignored me and been unsupportive, they might change for a week or two, maybe they might just tell you to go to hell. But they might change they might, you know, shape up a little bit for a week or two, and then they’re going to be right back doing the same thing that they did before. Because people are who they are, you’re not God, you’re not going to get in their internal wiring or into their soul and change who they are as a person. And if somebody is just self absorbed and narcissistic, and they want you as an audience for their conversation, rather than for your true genuine friendship, then they may play act at being a little bit better for a week or two. And then you’re going to be right back where you started. So who’s to say, you know, is a dear john letter The best way to do it? Or do you just stop answering their phone calls and do the fadeaway there, there’s room, there’s room for advocating for the one and the other simultaneously. I had a long term friendship that I ended at one point with an INFJ door slam. But I told the person why I was leaving and what had led up to it over the course of several years like these things had been brewing over the course of time. Even though this was a difficult decision, I knew it was the right decision for the both of us. And of course, the response I received back was that she was she was great. I was terrible. I was the villain in the situation. And it’s like, Okay, well, well, what was the point of even saying anything, it wasn’t, it wasn’t going to sink in, it wasn’t gonna change anything. And then I had another situation with a friend where I did the infj, door slam, and I just walked, I thought that having learned from past history, that there’s no point in sitting down, you know, like Martin Luther and writing out the theses about the the church like if I sit down and write all this crap out, it’s not going to be well received, and it’s not going to change anything. So I just shut the door and walk off. Again, you can argue both sides of the issue and say, it’s terrible to do that. Or you can say, hey, it’s about self preservation, baby, you gotta you got to take care of yourself in this life. And if somebody if some here, okay, here’s a very good way I think of putting it and you can you can take this and apply it in your own life or not, it’s up to you. If somebody is not coming, correct, if they’re not treating you with dignity, and decency, then does it really matter? You know, are you going to spend the time to write out a dear john letter about why you’re leaving? Why you don’t want them in your life anymore? Or do you just roll? You know, I think a lot of people are aware enough that if they’ve been taking you for granted, if they’ve mistreated you if they’ve been, you know, trash talking you behind your back, they know what they’ve been doing. Now, some people are not self aware at all their narcissistic, self absorbed and they just think everything that they that they do all the time is great. Their poop doesn’t stink. All these other people are terrible on these other people are peasants and peons. But they’re great. And you’re definitely not going to, you’re not going to get through to somebody like that. They’re they’re so far gone. There’s there’s no point in it. But do you want to spend the time to write that awkward email out or to have that awkward phone call or that awkward lunch date in a public place where you have clear vision of the exit? Or do you want to just roll an argument can Be made either way. Earlier in the episode I mentioned staffing and some of the things that I was taught, that are now just silly and tone deaf and one of those things involved ghosting, you know, we were taught that you want to make sure to emphasize that we build relationships. This is not about transactional sales, we’re here for the long run. And if a candidate ghosts, you, then you want to get on the phone, and essentially shame that person. You know, Mr. candidate, you’re burning a bridge here, we’re not going to work with you again. And none of our clients are going to work with you. You know, like, it’s almost like the old school, putting somebody in the stocks and throwing tomatoes at them in the middle of the day, like you’re going to be publicly ostracized, for having the nerve, the unmitigated gall to go somebody at a freaking staffing agency. I mean, you know, to use the phrase does your Come on man, there, there are staffing agencies, especially if we are talking third party, contingency based staffing agencies, there’s one on every freaking corner, there are so many of them out there. Now that industry is incredibly bloated. And so to make a threat, which let’s face it, that’s what it is. It’s a it’s a passive aggressive threat against somebody, we won’t work with you again, if you if you don’t get back on the phone with me and tell me why you’re rejecting this job and try to give me an opportunity to do Jedi mind tricks on you talk you into taking it, you’re going to be in trouble. They don’t care. They don’t give a damn. Like I remember a couple of years ago, during during my dark dinosaur, when I had to go back into corporate America with my tail tucked between my legs. I there was a guy that I had sent out on an interview. And when I talked to him post interview, everything was great. He was interested in the job would take it 1010 out of 10 he was ready. He was sold on it would take the job if it was offered. Two days later, the hiring manager calls me and says we finish all our interviews, your guy’s the guy that we want. Here’s the offer, which was a good offer. It was exactly what he said that he wanted. present it to him, let us know what he says. I call him up. He acts like he has no memory whatsoever of who I am and why I’m calling I re explain it. And I tell him, you know, hey, that company, you know, ABC that you interviewed with is interested in making you an offer and I want to talk to you about and he goes Oh, okay, great. And then I hear like rustling It was almost like trying to see if I’ve got some papers and it goes by like, you hear this rustling sound and like papers or tissue or something and then the phone goes dead. And he just straight up ghosted me, like I never even got to tell him what the offer was like the job title officially and the money and all that. He just freaking bailed. And so I left him a voicemail. I’m like, Hey, I don’t know if we had a bad connection. Or if you hung up on purpose, but you if you want to at least hear the offer and give me a response. Call me back. If I don’t hear anything from you by end of business today, then I’ll just assume you’re not interested. And we’ll move on. Of course, I never heard from the guy again. He never called or texted to say thanks. But no thanks. Just nothing. He just freaking disappeared. In that situation? No answer is your answer. And there’s not going to be I mean, what was it? Was it rude of him to do that? Could he have at least said, Hey, I appreciate you sending me out on the interview. But I’ve changed my mind. Yeah, of course he could have. I’m not justifying his behavior and hanging up in my ear. You know, and I it did aggravate me at the time. I can laugh about it. Now. I wasn’t laughing then I was like, wow, that’s incredibly rude and childish, to not just say, Hey, I don’t want this job anymore. Like, this doesn’t take that much effort. But he, you know, the answer was going to be the same either way, whether he said no thanks and hung up or whether he just hung up. He wasn’t going to take that job. It wasn’t in the cards. But you know, getting on the phone with him. The point I’m really making here is getting on the phone with him or leaving a voicemail or whatever and trying to shame him. Like I’m a kindergarten teacher. He’s a five year old kid is so freaking pointless. And making this idle threat of well, we won’t work with you again. You’re gonna burn your bridges here. Here’s a newsflash guys. No one cares. Yeah, I recorded back in March, an episode about is the global gig economy killing third party stuffing? Yeah, hell yeah, is when you can go on a site like Fiverr or Upwork or freelancer, be your own agent represent yourself, vet your own prospects and your own opportunities. Like who cares if somebody at Billy Bob’s staffing says we won’t work with you again, if you ghost us. If you don’t take this job that we’re trying to push on you. We just won’t work with you again. It’s like who cares? Nobody is. It’s such an empty threat. And it’s so silly to even have have been doing that in the first place. I remember I had a co worker who told me like, I agree that it’s not cool to go somebody like they could just text us, they could email anything and say, I don’t want the job, or I decided I didn’t want to show up to the interview or just anything. But I feel so ridiculous having to call them up and do like arm twisting and weird thinly veiled threats of how bad it’s going to be for them, if they ghost us, like I’m just not going to do it anymore. And I told her, it does feel like some strange form of extortion. And it’s, it’s like, in my mind, two wrongs don’t make a right ghosting somebody, you know, saying, Yeah, I’m gonna be there tomorrow at company ABC for my interview at 2pm. And then just no showing no show no call, just saying Screw it. And about not telling anybody that you’ve said screw, it is not cool, you know, you’ve wasted everybody’s time. And that’s not a good look. But then neither is getting on the phone, and trying to do emotional extortion on the person, you’re really burning a bridge, or we’re never gonna work with you again. Like, that guy doesn’t care or that that person, there he goes, she don’t, they don’t care. It’s it’s an empty, hollow threat. And it’s really archaic and out of date to get on the phone and start that mess up with somebody, especially in the context of our staffing agencies not going to work with you again. so freaking what they don’t care. And I think that you can sort of sit with your head in your hands and go, Oh, my God, the culture has changed so much. Everything is transactional. Now, people just don’t have the loyalty that they used to, or you can just accept reality. Technology is not going to go anywhere. It’s not like everybody is just going to have some mass Cultural Revolution tomorrow and delete all of these dating apps. And, and go back to like some very old school, genteel form of courtship, that’s not going to happen. Things are for better or worse. Again, you can argue either side of the point very well, for better or worse, things are only going to get more transactional. And as we get further into this global gay economy where you might be gigging for somebody that’s on the other side of the world, you know, you may be assisting someone and you never even see their face in real life. You know, you might see their face on a zoom call, or you might talk to them periodically over Skype, but like, you’re gigging for somebody that you are literally never going to meet face to face in person. That transactional side, not just as the business world anymore, but also of dating and of life itself is not going to go anywhere. And so I think we have to, yeah, across the board in in dating relationships and friendships, and in the business world, we have to reconsider ghosting. Our there Kim, can we make a blanket statement and say, it’s always wrong? Or it’s always right. No, we can’t. And again, I believe it goes back to the level of commitment, the longevity, the intimacy, I mean, if you’ve been married to somebody and you think you’re just gonna ghost them that that’s beyond mean spirited and cruel. You I have a friend who was the recipient of a dear john letter actually have two friends now that I’m thinking about this one, one male and one female and the female friend, whose husband ghosted her by leaving a letter taped to the refrigerator. He had packed his stuff up in the night and left early that day, and then left a dear john letter saying he’s going to file for divorce and really didn’t want to see her again, without lawyers present, any he taped this note to the refrigerator, have another friend whose wife left him via post it note, he got up in the morning, went down to the breakfast table, he sitting there eating a cereal, and he sees a post it note and he’s like, I wonder what this is. And it’s the wife saying, you know, I’m filing for a divorce, my lawyer is Bob Smith at 555, whatever. And we can talk about this later. That’s that is, to me, I just, I can’t even fathom you know, not sitting down and having a conversation like that in person having to tell somebody over a post it note that you want out of the marriage, but when we’re talking about like you had one date with somebody, you spent 30 minutes of your life with them and it didn’t go very well or you’ve been exchanging a few messages on an app and you’ve decided some some something they said turned you off, or somebody else you’re talking to turn you on more and you’d rather be with them. Do you owe that person an explanation? No. If a candidate ghosts you after you’ve set up an interview for them, or you’re trying to call and give them an offer, do you do you really want to waste the time calling them and leaving threatening voicemails or passive aggressive Have nonsense on their email. No, just just move on with your life. You know if you want to put a note in your database that says Joe Blow ghosted me I set up an interview for him and he was a no show, no call do it. But there’s no reason for you to call him and start making threats. It’s just kids. It’s not a good look for anybody. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please share it. If you haven’t already, take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and leave a review for us on iTunes. Bye for now.