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The haunting effects of ghosting

By Eve Vlemincx.

At some stage in our careers, we've encountered the unsettling experience of being ghosted, grappling with unanswered questions and filling the void with assumptions. This phenomenon entails the abrupt and unexplained halt in communication.

It not only exhibits discourtesy but also sheds light on the immaturity within an organizational culture, significantly undermining the fabric of professional relationships. This behavior is one of the symptoms typically seen in toxic work environments..

Lack of respect

Ghosting exemplifies a blatant lack of respect, particularly in professional environments where clear and effective communication is paramount. It leaves individuals bewildered, grappling with unanswered questions and making assumptions to fill in the void. The absence of closure can inflict emotional distress, denting morale and eroding trust.

The Story of Jane

Consider the story of Jane, who dedicated 35 years of her life to a company. Her commitment and loyalty were unwavering. One day, unexpectedly and without warning, Jane was informed that her services were no longer needed. When she sought an explanation or details, she was met with silence. Her queries were met with no response at all.

Jane's case is not an isolated incident. At its core, ghosting signifies a breakdown of communication and respect. The silence it leaves behind devalues individuals, fosters confusion, and undermines trust. Whether it's an applicant anticipating a job offer or a client seeking clarity on a project, the lingering silence magnifies the negative impact, sowing seeds of doubt and eroding the foundation of trust.

Such stories are a stark reminder of the callousness that can exist within organizational cultures where ghosting becomes an acceptable form of communication.

The Impact of ghosting

What makes ghosting particularly haunting is its lasting impression. People seldom forget how an interaction made them feel. In business, this sentiment echoes louder and longer, influencing not just the current transaction but coloring future interactions as well. It cultivates an environment of the absence of trust and maturity.

Moreover, ghosting fractures the foundation of organizational culture. When silence becomes an accepted norm, it seeps into the fabric of the company, eroding trust among employees and stakeholders. It fosters an atmosphere where open communication and transparency struggle to thrive, leading to a culture of uncertainty, mistrust, and diminished morale.

The repercussions of ghosting in the workplace are profound. It creates an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear, impacting productivity and mental well-being.

This disrespectful practice not only affects the individuals directly involved but also tarnishes the reputation of the organization. Word spreads, and potential recruits, clients, and partners take note of such behavior, impacting the company's image and credibility.

Fostering trust and embracing respectful communication

Building trust and nurturing relationships through effective communication becomes the beacon of light cutting through the darkness of ghosting. Embracing empathy, respect, and professionalism in every interaction becomes the cornerstone of a resilient and thriving business environment.

Responding with honesty, even in difficult situations, allows closure and maintains constructive relationships between all involved. Acknowledging and valuing each communication, whether it leads to a collaboration or not, fosters a culture of respect and goodwill. Every interaction, irrespective of its outcome, becomes an opportunity to leave a positive impression and build a network based on trust and mutual respect.


In a professional setting, respect is the cornerstone of healthy relationships. Ghosting stands in stark contrast to this principle, demonstrating a lack of empathy, professionalism, and basic courtesy.  

It's time for a shift in organizational behavior. Communication should be transparent and respectful, even when difficult decisions need to be made. Providing closure and explanations fosters trust, preserving the integrity and reputation of the organization.

Ghosting is not just an absence of words—it's an absence of respect.



About the Author Eve Vlemincx is a strategic advisor with expertise in a wide array of areas including legal digital transformation, innovation and leadership. She serves as an advisory council member for Harvard Business Review and is a Course Facilitator at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Eve is highly sought after as a keynote speaker and guest lecturer in various professional settings. Notably, she has been honored as a five-time recipient of the Stanford GSB LEAD Award.

Operating at the dynamic intersection of legal and business, Eve holds certifications from esteemed institutions such as Oxford, Harvard, Kellogg and Stanford Graduate School of Business. Additionally, she brings substantial experience as a seasoned lawyer specializing in corporate law and restructurings.

Eve's guiding philosophy is centered on working smarter, not harder, as she helps individuals and organizations navigate the complexities of today's rapidly evolving landscape.

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