Are You the Ghoster or Ghostee?
It’s happened to everyone. You make a great connection with an amazing new person and you know you’ll do great business together. Referrals, networking, maybe you’ll even hire them…or vice versa. And then it happens: You get busy and ghost them. Or they ghost you.

I’m overgeneralizing because those aren’t the only two options, but you get the picture.

Ghosting happens and we’re all at risk of being on both sides of it. It can have a big impact on our businesses, so it’s important to know why it happened and how to move on from it. As in, how to get past feeling guilty that you ghosted someone.

Listen in for more!

Links and Resources:

Time Stamps:
[0:39] – What is ghosting?
[1:06] – Lack of an immediate response is not ghosting
[2:10] – Why ghosting happens
[4:24] – Where do we do this?
[4:40] – How this impacts us
[7:45] – We need to have compassion for others
[8:58] – When you’re the one ghosting
[11:18] – Do you have a sustainable plan
[14:08] – Make a plan to get back on track
[14:52] – What to do if you’ve been ghosted


Amber Hawley 0:01
Business owners are increasingly being pulled in so many directions, feeling like they aren’t reaching their full potential in business and life despite their type aways. With my background as a therapist, entrepreneur, and as dropout with ADHD, I interview and coach high achieving business owners like you who want to stop struggling for success by using psychological systems, strategies, and the occasional care for entation. This is the easily distracted entrepreneur, your place to slay overwhelm perfectionism and shiny object syndrome so that you can get done what matters most to you.

Amber Hawley 0:40
Hello, friends, today we’re talking about an important topic that I think most people have either been on the receiving end of or they have themselves done this. I think at this point, everybody, everybody’s gone through it. I think no one is immune, and that is ghosting. And specifically ghosting in your business. But obviously this term, I think, originated with feeling personally ghosted. And I think most people know what this is. But I still want to define it so that we all are working from the same low definition here. So ghosting is when someone cuts off all communication without explanation. Most of us think about it in the context of a digital departure or a friend, a lover, but it happens across all social circumstances, and it happens in business. So one thing I do want to note because being somebody who’s involved in a lot of different groups and online communities, I’ve seen many people talk about this. And it I always feel like I kind of want to point out to people that a lack of an immediate response is not ghosting, right? So sometimes I get we can be filled with anxiety or it’s stressful or causes problems. But sometimes people are like, I’m being ghosted after three days, you’re not being ghosted, after three days, maybe somebody’s you know, slow to respond. But that’s not necessarily ghosting. Technically, ghosting is longterm, no more communication.

Amber Hawley 2:28
But I think there are varying levels, like at certain points, you’re like, Okay, I’m just being ghosted here. And like I said, most of us have also been on the perpetrating end of ghosting, as well. And we’re going to talk a little bit more about that. So it happens for all kinds of reasons. The first of which I think is it can start when we’re not sure how to respond to someone. And that could be because we’re feeling indecisive, like we’re not sure we have a decision to make, and we’re just not sure what to do. Or it could be that we have a difficult conversation to have with somebody. And were avoiding, you know, having that conversation. So we’re being a little conflict avoidant. So sometimes it can start off as we’re not sure how to respond. And then as time goes on, then we could, it could bring up feelings of shame or guilt, or RSD, as we’ve talked about in a previous episode, rejection sensitive dysphoria, which is a aspect of ADHD, where it really is very painful and becomes very difficult when you feel like you’ve let people down to respond to them. And it kind of makes us even more avoided.

Amber Hawley 3:43
Another reason that we sometimes ghost people is that we’re going through something personally, that’s extra stressful, or that is just, you know, up heaving our whole world. And it could be, you know, health stuff, it could be interpersonal stuff, it could be grief and loss, all kinds of things that maybe we aren’t communicating, especially in our business. And, you know, I see it both ways, one on one hands, like our personal stuff that we’re going through often can impact our businesses. And then sometimes our business stuff that we’re going through the stresses that we’re having there can impact our personal life, like they’re not, you know, immune from infecting each other. And the last reason I think that, you know, most people kind of disappear, is because they’re either burnt out or super overwhelmed. Sometimes what people experience as ghosting is really just for the other person, that they’re overwhelmed and dropping balls and don’t really know how to get caught up or get back on track. So where do we do this?

Amber Hawley 4:58
We do it to our clients. We can do it to our contractors or businesses that we hire, we can do it to our employees, or we can do it to our businesses ourself, right. And this can impact us in a myriad of ways. So with our clients, it could be that we’re not giving them the best experience that we can, or we start out really great. And clients love us and things are going well. But then as we are inconsistent, and communication and kind of disappear, then it kind of taints their experience. They also don’t know what else we can do for them, and we’re leaving them in the lurch. So either they’re unable to get the support the ongoing support that they’re wanting, or they just don’t even know that there’s more that you can be doing with them continued work. When I think about other businesses or contractors that you have, they often can’t do their jobs. I think about this, especially with web designers, where like, if they’re waiting for information from us, then they’re they’re unable to move forward with a project, if they don’t have all of the things that they need. And not being an employee, they don’t, they often can feel like they don’t have recourse right.

Amber Hawley 6:19
And I’m sure some of you, as business owners have been on the other end of that, where we’re moving forward requires the other person to give you information or make decisions, right. And so and we all know, that sucks, because that could be a loss of income for you, if you’re on that receiving end. And again, it can impact the relationship between you and other businesses and other people. With employees, we can look really flaky like we’re not able to perform, they can become disgruntled, or they can feel like it’s personal. Or, and that might mean they eventually leave. And this is something where this is going to impact your personal relationships with other businesses or employees or contractors, clients, whatever they may be, where it just feels like there’s inconsistent communication, a lack of follow through. And again, like if you take these long breaks it a lot of people feel hurt, they can feel rejected, they can feel like they did something wrong, or they’re confused by it. I have had this before where I kind of disappeared for a couple of weeks. And I had somebody reach out to me, and she’s like, I’m just checking in to make sure we’re okay, did I do something that upset you, which made me feel terrible that she thought I was upset with her when really it was I was just going through something and I was being unresponsive, because frankly, I was going through something and I felt overwhelmed. Like it was all of the things. And so yeah, it’s just one of those things to be aware of.

Amber Hawley 8:05
And I think also, the reason I wanted to talk about this is, on one hand, we have to have compassion for people that people running businesses are just that they are people, and we are not perfect and things happen. And when possible, giving people grace and understanding goes a long way. Because if the roles were reversed, we would want that as well. Right? And the last place we can kind of ghost is in our own business, we can kind of go start business, right? We dropped the ball on our marketing activities, doing the things that we’re supposed to do to keep everything afloat and running, sending invoices, all kinds of things. And what ends up happening is not only are we losing money, probably adding immensely to our own stress, it also impacts our credibility. And, you know, again, we’re human things happen. And no one wants to be perceived as flaky, or inconsiderate, or unreliable. We just don’t want to be that way. And so what can we do about it when we find ourselves in this place?

Amber Hawley 9:18
So number one, is we can email people and kind of let them know, you know, not necessarily details of what’s going on. But just let them know that hey, you’re aware that you haven’t been responsive, that you’ve dropped the ball that you know, if you already know what you’re going to do, you could include that or just say, I’m going through something I will be I will follow back up on this date. Right and that could be something that goes out maybe if you’ve been letting people down on a bigger level, like you were supposed to launch something at a certain time, or you have a bunch of people that you You haven’t been responsive to, I think sending it sending out something in that bigger way to kind of address it, and let people know that you’re going to be personally addressing it so that it gives them a sense of like, what to expect. And you know, they still may be upset, of course, but it, it allows it at least is the first step. And I think it can make it easier for you to figure out, Okay, now, what do I do? Right? I’ve talked about this example before, that sometimes when I’m falling really behind on communication with people, like I have a whole bunch of boxers, because, you know, let’s face it, we’re communicating with people in so many different areas. And it’s a lot running a business, we’re running lots wearing different, so many different hats, we’re dealing with so much stuff.

Amber Hawley 10:50
And again, that’s not even our personal life. But what I’ve done is say, I think I know what you’re, you know, messaging me about, and I haven’t listened to your message, but and then I kind of address what I think it is. Or just say, I haven’t listened to your messages. I’m super overwhelmed right now. But I swear, I’ll get back to you next week. So doing something like that can just manage other people’s expectations. And I think then they’re often a lot more compassionate and understanding when they just feel like somehow they’re in the loop otherwise, in their head, they’re thinking, Okay, I’m never going to hear from this person again. The second thing we can do is make a plan that is sustainable. If you have a bunch of people that you need to get back to you can make a decision about, you know, in what order are you going to reach out to these people based on you know, the circumstances, like what’s time sensitive, what feels like, it’s the biggest problem, whatever you need to address. And then when you reach out to people, I think there are two parts, there’s, one is making a repair attempt.

Amber Hawley 12:01
So taking ownership for, you know, the balls that you dropped, or something that you did, owning that piece, and trying to make it right. So if it was a customer trying to address that and fix it. And sometimes it’s you know, you can apologize, you take accountability, but then sometimes you have to reset expectations, because circumstances for you have changed. And so it’s sometimes a repair attempt, and sometimes it’s a repair attempt and resetting expectations, and just figuring out, you know, how do you guys move forward in this.

Amber Hawley 12:39
And I think the big thing here is to understand that sometimes people are going to be so upset that, that they’re done, they’re done working with you, whether that be employees, other companies or clients, because they might be so they’re either so hurt, or or you’ve put them in a predicament because you haven’t been responsive, right? So we have to be ready for that. And I think being understanding, which is part of that accountability. And and then there are those times where people are very understanding, which really is wonderful if they can if they’re not so impacted, and you get to kind of, again, reset, go forward. The other thing is making a plan for yourself and your business of what can you do different so that you don’t find yourself in this place again. So like I said, sometimes shit happens, right? We’re human. But there are some times where we get so overwhelmed, or we’re dropping balls. And it’s really an indication that we need to address our systems, you know that that could be we need to hire somebody else. Maybe we need to change up the way that we’re doing things, or even change up the way that we’re promising to deliver to people. Because sometimes we’ve made agreements to do stuff that is outside, what actually works for us, right? So sometimes that sustainable plan is reassessing for yourself.

Amber Hawley 14:11
In addition to that, it could also be having to make a plan of how to get back on track. And so we go back to prioritization. Really scheduling things out. So you’re doing your one thing every day and you’re getting, you know, quote, unquote, caught up, even though I’ve said many times, I don’t really believe that we’re ever really caught up, but we want to feel on top of things. But sometimes we feel like we’re so behind and we’re so overwhelmed. We just need to figure out a plan to feel good about what we’re going to accomplish each day. And again, communicating that to other people. That’s that setting expectations. And the last thing I just want to talk about is you know, if you’re feeling like you’ve been ghosted I think it’s off It’s important to just follow up with people. And you know, I would say, don’t assume that they are ghosting, you just kind of follow up and give them the opportunity.

Amber Hawley 15:10
Now, obviously, there are times where if people have dropped the ball and you’ve missed deadlines and things haven’t happened, you probably, you need to set the boundary. And maybe you do need to stop working with them. But I think sometimes in the case of you send a proposal to somebody, and you’re waiting to hear back, I think we can go to this place of, there’s something wrong with our pricing, or they don’t like us, or they’re not going to hire us, or all these other things that are ahead. And sometimes people are just really overwhelmed. Right, working with so many ADHD business owners, it just, I always give that space for, they are just having difficulty prioritizing, getting back to people. And I have done this myself.

Amber Hawley 15:52
And you know, I’m not proud of it. I try not to do this, I try to manage expectations and communicate with people, but it happens. And especially when I’m feeling shitty or bad, then I seem to drop it even more. I just had an example of this last year where I had talked to somebody about doing some like social media management for me. And I was like really interested and said, Okay, I’ll you know, I’m busy right now, because it was the end of year, I’ll take some time to think about it, then I’ll get back to you. And then I didn’t. And this person kept following up with me. But every time it was so kind, and of course for me that RSD had been triggered. And so every time I thought, oh, I need to respond to her, then she would reach out and I’m like, oh my god, now I feel even worse, even though she was always being kind. But eventually, I did respond. And I I thanked her for following up and being super patient. Because, you know, that wasn’t my goal to make her feel bad. And you know, I owned that piece of it. It just happens.

Amber Hawley 16:56
So we have to be aware of this. Right? Yeah. So it’s, it’s finding that balance between your own boundaries of what works for you personally, and in your business. And obviously, you know, if you feel really hurt by somebody, you know, disappearing on you, and you can’t let that go and move forward, then that’s okay, too. It’s okay to to own your feelings and set that boundary. And I particularly love, like how this episode came to be was that the person I work with Abby Herman, who does all of like my show notes and content for my podcast. She’s the one who makes it all happen and gets it out everywhere. And she’s fantastic. And she has a two week lead time on episodes. And I’m aware of this. And I had stuff going on, I was having, you know, a particularly rough couple of weeks, and I dropped the ball. And it was funny, because I was like, okay, look, I know, I have completely, completely missed the deadline. And I was willing to say, hey, so maybe an episode doesn’t go out, that’s totally my fault, my problem, or if it can go out in one way, and then we can get caught up with like the show notes and all the other stuff. You know, I’m open to it being flexible, like, it’s not her fault that I miss my deadline, right? I don’t expect others to accommodate that.

Amber Hawley 18:28
And it was funny, I said, I really should do an episode about ghosting, because that’s how she was starting to feel like I wasn’t she was. I wasn’t responding to her boxers, or Instagram messages. And then she reached out to my operations person. So I had a lot of people on my ass in a good way. And I appreciate them. But yeah, I mean, this, it happens, right? So I just want to normalize that. We want to make sure we don’t think like we’re terrible business owners, or we’re total pieces of crap. Because we do this sometimes. And it happens. There’s just a lot on our plates. And so, once again, I hope you give yourself a lot of grace and space. And you know, you can be accountable, but you don’t have to beat yourself up and feel like shit about it. Just figure out how do you move forward.

Amber Hawley 19:21
I hope this was helpful. And if you’re in this place where you feel like you owe a bunch of people responses or if you’ve been dropping the ball and ghosting people and it’s impacted, like projects moving forward or working with other people, and you need a little extra support, reach out and either book a strategy session with me where we can talk about this and address all the emotional things that are keeping you stuck from responding help you prioritize, or you could join the inner circle and do some co working and set the intention of I’m going to use this time every week on co working in setting up those systems or just responding to people that you owe responses to. So I would love to have you there you can find that information at And I really hope that this is helpful and if you are beating yourself up because you have been ghosting people, I want you to give yourself a lot of compassion. And let’s move forward.

Transcribed by

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