The Psychology Of Being Ghosted At Work And What To Do About It

“She ignored every single one of my emails even though I could see that she had read it.”

I hit send on the email. Hope to hear from you soon it read, and I did. I had previously had meetings with this contact, been on the phone to them within a few minutes, and had a lengthy chain of emails. But in the past week, they’d gone cold. Calls went unreturned, emails left unopened, and a meeting date we’d set was never confirmed.

They were ghosting me. Vanishing off the face of the earth because they didn’t want to communicate anymore.

It was fine, but I wondered how many people it wouldn’t be fine for. How many jobs depended on warm leads that would simply go cold without saying another word? How many meetings people had moved schedules around only to have a wall of silence put up by the other attendees.

Ghosting describes the act of disappearing on someone you were previously talking to or dating. It’s kind of a coward’s way out that doesn’t involve ‘It’s not you, it’s me.’ And, it’s becoming quite hard to avoid, especially at work. So I decided to look into it and find out what you can do about it if you’re being ghosted at work.

1. The Busy Ghoster

The busy ghoster is someone who ignores you because they’re so busy. They are less annoying than other ghoster’s because they probably are very busy. But the key to cracking this ghoster is realizing that they aren’t busy every second of every day and trying to find an opening in their day to communicate.

THE PSYCHOLOGY

If you’re being ignored by a busy ghoster, the truth is, you are being regarded as a low priority. You aren’t at the top of her to-dos but that doesn’t mean you’re not on her list at all. It just means she has a lot of other things going on right now. There’s a book you can read to learn more about the psychology of other people and how to make communicating easier, read more about it here.

THE SOLUTION

The one way you can beat this is by treating her like a human being. Because at the end of the day, we all are. I tend to read all of my emails and mark all the ones I need to get back to later on. So, to avoid this type of ghosting you need to communicate deadlines straight away. By doing this you’re confirming your spot on her to-do list and showing the task as a priority.

And if they do miss a deadline then you can certainly hold them accountable. You can turn up the pressure by revealing that you are missing your own deadlines because of it and because of this, your management is being further delayed – no one wants to be responsible for that!

2. The Ghoster that can’t say no

If you’re being ghosted by one of these, I feel for you. This is the type of ghoster that strings you along, says yes, yes, yes to absolutely everything and communicates that they’re definitely going to make it work. But then they ignore all your emails and never speak to you again! Because they’re too scared to tell you how they really feel then and there.

THE PSYCHOLOGY

The problem with this ghoster is that they just can’t say no – or don’t have the guts to do so. And believe it or not, these are the most common ghosters of them all. It’s probably that they feel uncomfortable with being straight up and honest with you once they’ve heard your pitch, in other words, they’re trying to be polite. Find out more about modern etiquette rules you didn’t know you were breaking here.

THE SOLUTION

These ones are hard to beat because they’ve already made up their mind, they just don’t have the confidence to share it. The only thing you can really do in this case is let it go – but only for now. Don’t take it personally, it might be that their superior has given them a new target. Make sure to get back in touch later with a stronger idea and proposal that will knock their socks off.

3. The Indecisive Ghoster

This happens quite a lot. Usually, and you’ll find this a lot with the younger professionals that they will agree to something at the time and be really excited about it, but won’t feel the same way next week for example.

It’s the person that sits on the fence, which means you didn’t do enough of a good job to sell it to them.

THE PSYCHOLOGY

The ghoster may like you and feel a connection with you, however, it could be that your idea isn’t there, which makes her a little slower and indecisive towards you. Or it could be vice versa, that’s why it’s so important to get every little element right.

The fact that she is reluctant to act will probably result in the decision not to work with you, well, that is if you can’t continue to persuade her.

THE SOLUTION

Whilst you still have her, it’s important to make things right and to give her one last little push. She’s still a warm lead, but it’s important that you do this quickly. And this time, make sure to give her an offer/reason she can’t refuse.

Focus more on meeting her, things can go a lot more smoothly and better when you actually connect face to face. So, invite her out to your next email – ask her for breakfast, everyone loves spending an hour out of the office for some delicious food so woo her with that first! If you need some tips about networking, we’ve got a few essentials to remember here.

4. The Serial Ghoster

This ghoster is one that you can’t stay mad at and that’s simply because they are so lovely, but just happen to ignore most of your emails and cancel your meetups. She’s the one who’s interested in working with you, is enthusiastic about penciling in a date, but yet cancels a day before you’re supposed to meet every time.

THE PSYCHOLOGY

The truth is she probably does want to meet you. But is being pulled from many different angles. This type is similar to the ‘busy ghoster’, which means you’re just a low priority to her, which means right now, you always will be.

THE SOLUTION

So, we know already that you’re not at the top of her to-do list and that’s fine. But in order to hit your targets, you are going to have to get her to meet you. And you can do this by making her feel like she has to. It’s simple, just do your research, create your strategy and use psychology to help lure her in.

For example, expert psychologist Robert Cialdini explains that you can influence and invoke a response by offering your help and services. Most of the time, the said person feels obliged to return the favor. Once you’re thanked for helping them out, make sure to reply with something like “No worries, it’s just what partners (or collaborators) do for each other”, which will trick them into thinking they need to do something for you too.

5. The Permanent Ghoster

The worst of them all is permanent ghoster. She’s the type that will ghost you and ghost you and ghost you. You’ll notice it because she will go out of her way to ignore every email. It’s a closed door, you’re knocking and you can’t get somebody to answer it. This type of ghoster is my least favorite. And I’ve had this one a lot recently, where nothing I did or tried worked. She ignored every single one of my emails even though I could see that she had read it. There’s actually a trick to guarantee your emails get opened, find out more by clicking here.

THE PSYCHOLOGY

First of all, this ghoster knows more about you than you think. You may think she’s not giving you a chance, but she did – the first time she read your email. From that first email, she judged you and made the decision that you were not the right for her.

Remember, people get a lot of emails a day, especially junk emails and they don’t like their time to be wasted. So to her, I must have been, to put it bluntly, a waste of her time.

THE SOLUTION

You have one opportunity and one only to get it right. In one email you are judged, your whole company is assessed. No pressure.

From the get-go, you need to make sure you are sending an email that communicates exactly what you need it to. Remember, think outside the box. Ask yourself questions like ‘would I reply to this email?’ Be harsh.

For your winning emails, I would advise keeping it short. Use influential, headline-worthy words that draw and capture their attention. Don’t be scared to bolden words to steal their gaze. You need to make your proposal or pitch worth their time, so come up with a plan on how you can do that!

You can always leave me a comment below if you want me to give you some more specific advise that’s tailored to your industry. Because it is complicated and it does take times. It’s not just about sending 100 emails out a day – it’s actually having them read and responded to.

 

GOOD THINGS

…come to those who sign up for our emails

Elizabeth Smith

Hi, I’m an Editorial Assistant and Content Creator here at CGD! I’m an ambitious award winning writer with an extensive background in literature and critical theory. I specialise also in digital marketing, creating engaging content, working with press and creating client relations.