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being a professional May 27, 2024

My friend Julie and I were talking about ghosting. She does sales for a company and we were discussing how many people “ghost” her.

Now, as a salesperson, we kind of know that some people are not going to call us back. That’s often their way of saying, “not interested.”

On the other hand, what happens when you have a somewhat lengthy, detailed, and connected conversation, and then they never return your calls...isn’t that weird?

For example, you meet someone at an open house. Or one of your clients refers you to someone they know. You get on the phone with this person and have a long, detailed, and seemingly “connected” conversation. It goes well, they share what’s happening, you talk about some next steps, and maybe even schedule a time to talk next. However, you call, you text, you leave messages - but you never hear from them again.

Does this sound familiar in any way?

During my discussion with Julie on this topic, I had the following thoughts:

- People don’t want to deal with the truth.
- People don’t want to be embarrassed.

In other words, people want to live in the fantasy that everything is okay, and to put on the best possible show to the rest of the world that they have ‘made it.’ Acknowledging that we need help in any area, or that we are deficient in any area, would be a sign of weakness and threaten our survival instincts. It takes courage and strength to override this instinct.

If you are on the phone with someone who really wants to buy a home, and during the conversation with you they discover that they cannot buy a home - that can be a death blow to their hopes and dreams. It feels bad.

So now that their dreams are crushed, and they are feeling bad about themselves, we keep calling to follow up with them. Why do they avoid us? Because it is embarrassing for them to say: “Hey, I really want to buy a house, but my credit is not that good, I am drowning in more debt than I realized, and I don’t make nearly enough money to overcome all that and buy a home.”

That can be a pretty embarrassing statement to make to another human being - especially if it’s someone we don’t know well.


Maybe they really want to buy a home, but...not with us. They could call us back and say, “Hey, I really appreciate that you spent 30-45 minutes of your time on the phone with me, but I don’t like or trust you as a [real estate agent/loan officer/sales person..] so I am going to go with someone else.”

Hard call to make!

Remember, most of us don’t want to hear the truth, so we also don’t want to tell the truth - we don’t want to put on to another the feelings we don’t want ourselves. Therefore, it’s much easier to just “avoid”. I simply won’t have the hard, mature, difficult conversation. If I don't return the calls, they will take the hint.

Now I am not a psychologist and I didn’t study psychology in school - I barely got a C in the one psych class I did take at UCLA - so everything I am sharing is purely my observations.

The truth hurts. We don’t like pain or discomfort. So we avoid anything that doesn’t feel good.

What often gets missed: is that’s not a very powerful way to live a life. In fact, it’s very costly.

I remember early in my consulting career this woman I worked with named Donya said, “If you keep sweeping everything under the rug, eventually the pile is so big you can’t cross the room.”

Good point!

Everything we avoid dealing with - including the calls we never return - is piling up...somewhere. I am going to assert somewhere inside us - one might say the back of our mind or subconscious. Or maybe elsewhere - I have done sessions with healers that say parts of our body store particular past events or issues. Others might say that when we get sick it is some manifestation of past pain not being resolved. I don’t know if any of those things are true.

What is probably safe to say: ghosting is bad. While we often feel bad when we are ghosted, consider the one who is suffering the most: the actual ghoster! Instead of dealing honestly, with integrity, with the issue at hand, they avoid it by avoiding! Instead of handling what there is to handle, they stuff it down. They push it aside. But it’s still there.

I never thought much about being ghosted until my conversation with Julie. The more I think about it, the more I care less if it happens to me. What I care more about: not ghosting others. If I am doing the ghosting, then I am the one with a loss of power. I am the one with the loss of freedom to be.

If I am truly going to help people in my life, I have to be present. I can’t be present if I am full of stuff I am avoiding and unwilling to deal with, because my mind/subconscious somewhere has to keep track of all the crap I haven’t dealt with in case I come across it again (remember, survival instincts). If I can minimize the crap I am avoiding, I have more availability and energy to be present.

I have often said that one of the reasons many real estate agents don’t like calling into their database: there are things incomplete with people in their database. The last conversation ended awkwardly. They called us and we forgot to call them back. We called them and they never called us back. Or something else that has us sort of feeling...not safe, unsure, uneasy, insecure, confused, wondering or...incomplete.

If we are going to be trusted advisors, we have to be out of our own heads. We have to be totally available for our clients - not like in a 24/7 sense, but when we are with our clients we are totally there for them.

We started this conversation with ghosting. Maybe you thought you were going to get dating advice? The more I think about it though, isn’t sales a little like dating? sales, we are in this unique monogamous-polygamous relationship. We are polygamous because we have many clients, but we want our clients to be monogamous - to have only one trusted advisor (for any given area of expertise). Additionally, we have a limited capacity for people we can truly serve. We are not in a transactional business - we are in a low-volume, high-dollar quadrant. Anyone who doesn’t want to call us back - great! We move on to the people who absolutely want and need us to help them.

The lesson: okay to be ghosted - it gives us freedom to move on. Doing the ghosting - not good. If you have to ghost -  maybe save it for Halloween?