A friend of mind the other day called it the “Richmond no.” What she was talking about was when someone acts, or even affirmatively says, that they are interested in continuing a conversation about work or a volunteer project or making a mutual connection and when you go to follow up you get … nothing. Did they not get my email? Let me try calling. Leave a message on voicemail. Still nothing. Hmmm. Ghosted.
It seems that with all of the myriad of ways we now have to communicate with each other, we now also have a myriad of ways to ignore each other. Or to pretend the communication never got through. The other day someone said they never got my message because their phone was dead. For an entire day? I don’t think so. Again, ghosted.
I would far prefer that if someone doesn’t want to continue a conversation, that they simply indicate that. I have done that and, while it might feel a little uncomfortable, it is far kinder than leaving someone hanging, leaving them ghosted.
Periodically I will get a call or email from someone in development at my alma mater. While I love my school, I’m not now nor will I ever be a major donor. So, when I’m invited for coffee for “an update” and to “see what’s new with me,” I am clear with them that I would love to get together, but that their time will likely be better spent on a live prospect. Is that uncomfortable to say? Sometimes yes. But it’s the right thing to do.
This happens with events, too. Someone will think, “they won’t notice if I’m not there.” But the event organizer has planned seating, and food, and beverage for a certain number of guests. So, yes, they will notice if you’re not there. Especially if several of you think that. If you accept an invitation, attend the event. Simple.
You see, when you set someone up for an expectation and then leave them wondering if you got their email, if they should call you, if they should just give up, you’re wasting their time. And arguably yours to a degree. And you’re not doing yourself any favors in the professionalism department either. Word gets around. Pretty soon you may find your calls not getting returned. And that’s not good for anyone.
Be the person who sets the good example. If you’re interested in continuing a conversation, continue it. If you’re not, say so. If you accept an invitation to an event, go to the event. If you say you’ll get back to someone, get back to them. Not only is all of this the right and professional thing to do, it will also help you stand apart in a good way. Be that person.