Exorcizing the ghost

I have now accepted that my collaborations with these two ghosters are unlikely to happen. The hurt feelings aren’t going to completely disappear, but I do have some tips on how to reduce the haunting feeling.

The first step is to not blame yourself. None of us knows what another person is going through — perhaps the ghoster is dealing with a truckload of stress. Maybe they thought they would respond later to your messages, but then the right moment never came, or your e-mail got buried in their inbox under an avalanche of other messages. Or perhaps they no longer wish to work with you and are trying to spare your feelings by not saying no directly. It’s impossible to know, so there is no point in blaming yourself. They made the decision to ghost you — but your reaction is entirely up to you.

If someone isn’t replying to your messages, follow the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule — don’t e-mail them more than three times. And it is important not to pick apart your messages, trying to work out why they didn’t reply — their silence is their response, and there is no need to play Sherlock when you will never get any actual information.

To avoid feeling hurt and abandoned, reframe the situation mentally. Instead of thinking, “What did I do wrong here?”, start thinking, “I don’t really know what that person is going through. It might not be anything I did.” Stop blaming yourself and move on. There are plenty of other potential collaborators to reach out to.

I strive never to ghost anyone — if I have an existing or potential working relationship with another person, and I don’t want to work with them any longer, I tell them kindly yet clearly. Being silent and unresponsive is neither clear nor kind, and it is incredibly disrespectful, too. If and when you get ghosted, exorcize the ghost by reframing your thinking and not attributing unnecessary blame to yourself.