professional ghosting zen hustlers

Over the past few months I’ve been experiencing an increased frequency and impactful new level of a Professional Ghosting. It’s time to address this issue head on in our professional and personal lives. I fully acknowledge that in different situations and relationships most people can both be the ghost and ghosted. So in essence, we are all ghosts to honor all the various sides of ourselves. We can choose to relate to ourselves as different types of ghosts dependent on the situation, relationship, and circumstance of our lives. Ghosting is typically a term utilized in the dating and relationship world, but has certainly and sadly entered our 9-5 working lives. In this modern era of mass daily communications… it is not only shocking but harmful to others and even ourselves.

Ghosting Situation: Recently, I submitted a full-contract proposal of media marketing work to a potential new client. It was excitedly requested by the managing director of a what I thought was a ‘highly conscious’ business. Prior to this current ghosting experience there were multiple emails, phone calls and even a live two-hour meeting to discuss my proposal in depth and decide on its’ fate. This recent phenomenon of ‘being-ghosted’ brought up feelings of inadequacy, vulnerability, fear, anger and frustration based on a simple lack of information and lack of clarity. Ghosting hurts all involved, as it robs the initiator of any integrity within communication, and the ghosted of confidence losing any certainty of a clear decision forward.

“Silence as no replies, no texts, no calls, and no emails is a quiet desperate rejection. It is a No.”

When you go through this experience you realize there are a few types of ghosts existing in our reality. We must start to address this quiet, invisible elephant in our offices, communications and professional relationships. If we allow this poor behavior to continue it can ultimately rob us of inner confidence, deeper clarity and overall decisiveness of action.

Below I have created the various types of ghosts, and we all fit into one or more categories, at different times of the day.

How are you impacted by ghosts… are you also ghosting others?

Growth comes from intentionally looking at ourselves in the mirror even those vampire reflections that we don’t want to be exposed. I believe all of us are actually guilty of this behavior… but knowledge and insight is the key to change.

How have you been impacted by ghosting?


The White Ghost

Definition: The person who is being ghosted by someone with a true lack of communication.

The Situation: Someone in your work life is choosing not to reply to your; emails, calls, texts, and messages… they are withholding. They’ve received your email, they have read your texts and they’re making a clear and conscious decision not to reply or communicate. Their silence is your frustrating response and even your answer… as annoying as that may be.

The impact on white ghosts: You’ve taken repeated actions and gained little or no response leaving you in a deep void of assumptions, uncertainty and possibly anger. If you can try to step back and not take it personally, you can accept that ‘they’ are the ones that have not acted professionally… not you. You can retain your integrity of communication and they have sadly tarnished theirs.

The impact on them: They may not realize or even care, but there is certainly a real impact on them for ghosting you. The more consciously they behave this way, the more this lack of action diminishes positive energy, and their integrity of communication. Instead of responding or getting in contact with you, they withhold and hope it/you will go away. We can assume they may be doing this in other areas of their lives too… rarely is it contained to just one relationship or dynamic. If karma exists then they too may be ghosted at some point, not that you may get any satisfaction from seeing it. Leaving karma aside, deep down they know they are behaving in a way unbecoming of a professional, this is their bed and they must lie in it.

Exposing a Ghost: If you have the gumption and frankly the inner courage to call them out for this, please do. It’s all our job to stand up for ourselves and honestly to declare our right to be heard, respectfully communicated with. Some people you try to call out will outright deny any responsibility, but we know that is their own dirt. Some others may play dumb or ignorant about it, so simply state your request to be replied to in future communications. We can never change others behaviors, but we can choose who to deal with based on how they interact in life.

Ghosting Tip – If you initially used email to communicate, try a different channel to reach them like phone, text or even write them a real letter! Maybe one mode works better for them than others?

“We are always training people how to treat us, with each and every interaction.”

We all have a dark shadow ‘ghost’ that we hide from different people in our personal and professional lives.

The Dark Shadow Ghost

Definition: A person that is consciously ghosting others with their lack of communication.

The Situation: A colleague, an applicant, a new client or even a new prospect has started to communicate with them via an email, phone, text or even in-person meetings. After some initial exchanges of information this ghost makes the conscious and the intentional choice, (yes, they’re making a choice), not to reply or get back in touch with someone, maybe it was you. And you have continued to make repeated attempts to reach them but a deathly cold silence has set in.

Ghostly motivations: It’s said that we only make decisions based on either fear or love… which one do you think this one is? These shadow ghosts are scared and fearful of one or more of the following; confrontation, disappointment, embarrassment or worse… a self inflated ego that demands they do not reply. FYI, narcissists thrive on this ego trip. It serves their selfish natures to avoid, dodge and deflect the responsibility, and the respect the other deserve. It offers this ghost a false sense of power, control and dominance over another person. It’s false in the sense that, this is not real power or even control; it’s a subversive mechanism of manipulation and deceit. This behavior is the external manifestation of a fear or a past pain from an experience that was never no fully cleared up, acknowledged and/or worked through in a positive way. Either way it is their shit to clean up, not yours, but the whole exchange now reeks from it.

Exposing this ghost: If the white ghost maintains the courage and desire to directly confront the dark shadow ghost in any digital, analog or even face to face format don’t be surprised if you see any real feelings of redemption or satisfaction. This person may deflect and pass off every ounce of responsibility regarding this lack of action, and more importantly any large potential issues it may have caused to others. If a white ghost can share the real impact this silence has had, in a way the dark ghost can receive it, then there is a slight chance for redemption in some form. There are no guarantees here.

“I would rather hear a clear and definable, no… instead of silence. At least you know where you stand.”

Are you a Grey ghosting, unconscious to your communications?

The Grey Ghost

Definition: Ghosting someone unintentionally & maybe even unconsciously.

The Situation: You may be ghosting other people and not even be fully conscious of this act? Maybe you forget to get back to certain people via email, phone, voicemails or after meetings for additional follow-up. Maybe you do not intentionally mean any harm or to disregard people, but you are simply busy, overwhelmed or disconnected. Your email inbox is flooded and overwhelming, your voicemail is full can’t accept any new messages and you have abandoned other forms of messaging completely. Hopefully, you are not consciously ignoring people, as that would shift you to a dark shadow ghost then.

Ghostly Motivations: Simply put they are overwhelmed, stressed and generally disconnected from personal realities. They may have a personal or professional issue pressing on their attention and thus other areas are now suffering. Maybe their business partner is having an affair with a staff member, or their business is tanking downwards as they lose vision and the capacity for real attention. Whatever the motivation to ghost people or be ghosted sucks the life out of our relationships.

Exposing this ghost: If the white ghost has the courage and willingness to call them out on this… they should! They need a brisk wake-up call, slap of reality to remind them of your deeper commitments and the actual responsibilities in their role. If no one is there to call them out for this… then it is time for a personal ‘check-in’ with values and priorities they claim to adhere to. This is internal work to do and to get clear with the people they may have unintentionally hurt in this process. It is very possible if they are doing this at work, they are doing this at home and inside of other relationships too!

Ghostly Beings: Sadly, most of us have and continue to be one or more of these three ghosts simultaneously in our lives and with others. We may be acting out of our own fears or even unconscious about it, but the impact is real… the silence does has an effect. Look at your own work and personal relationships to see which ghost you are being haunted by. Once you are conscious of this, take an action, contact someone and get clear with them. We can’t guarantee you will get a reply from them, but you may feel clearer knowing you have done all you could to remove the ghosts from your own closets.

Feel free to share your own ghosting experiences…

How has it impacted you?

What actions did you take to resolve it?

Be sure to tag @zenhustlers in social media posts and #bizghosting

Post by Jared Brick, founder of Zen Hustlers & Brick House Media Co

Supporting founders and entrepreneurs to find balance on the edge

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