Ghosting is becoming too common.
If you’ve never heard the term, it refers to the practice of ending all communication with a person.
When someone ghosts you, they sever their connection with you and ignore your messages. They pull a disappearing act and pretend they no longer exist. They become a ghost.
It happens in friendships. Instead of having a difficult conversation about a conflict, your friend simply ignores you.
It happens after job interviews. Instead of telling candidates that they didn’t get the job, the employer doesn’t respond to follow-ups.
It happens in dating. You go on a few dates, and he decides he’s not into you. Instead of honestly and gently letting you know, he “solves the problem” by unexpectedly cutting off all communication with you.
Before I go any further, a huge caveat: If you’re in an abusive relationship, cutting off all contact makes perfect sense. But the adoption of ghosting as a general communication style in non-abusive relationships doesn’t.
When you ghost, you do a disservice both to yourself and to the person you’re ghosting.
Yes, it’s uncomfortable to tell a friend that he hurt you, to explain to a job candidate that she’s not the right fit, or to tell a partner that you want to break up.
But it’s far worse—downright cruel—to ghost. Ghosting puts all the burden on the person being ghosted. When you ghost someone, you leave them in a state of profound uncertainty about what’s going on. If they’re like most human beings, they’ll assume the worst. What did I do wrong? Was it something I did or said? What’s wrong with me?
People who ghost often can’t handle discomfort. Instead, they adopt ghosting to avoid saying “no” or learning to communicate conflict in a healthy way.
Healthy conflict is a source of growth. It’s something to be embraced, not erased.
Discomfort, from a place of care, is one of the biggest gifts you can give to someone. Looking back on my life, my most important moments of growth happened when someone shared inconvenient truths with me. And even though I felt uncomfortable, the short-term pain was followed by long-term gratitude to the person who told me what I needed to hear.
This doesn’t mean acting like a jerk and humiliating people. But it does mean gently sharing what you feel—instead of ignoring the other person.
So take a moment to say “I’m feeling hurt, and here’s why” or “We hired another candidate, and here’s why” or “I need to pause this relationship, and here’s why.”
Above all, remember that there’s a living, breathing human being on the other end of the screen.