We have been living with the merciless Covid virus for over two years. Our personal lives have changed in ways we could never have imagined. Our professional lives have changed, and our interactions with others have changed. We do not communicate as we used to. In many cases, we do not communicate at all. This has led to a behavior known as “workplace ghosting.” If you are not sure what it means, it is just as it seems. Ghosts are invisible. Ghosts are silent. Ghosts are simply not there.
During the pandemic ghosts have emerged—so to speak. Perfectly normal healthy people have become ghosts. Businesses and corporations have become ghosts. You know them:
- Ghosts do not return your calls.
- Ghosts do not answer email.
- Ghosts do not show up for meetings.
- Ghosts do not answer the phone.
- Ghost cannot take you call “due to higher-than-normal call volume.”
- Ghosts hide behind technology.
- Ghost use automation where the non-human on the other end of the phone says, “You can talk to me like a real person.”
Real people do not seem to exist anymore. And if they do exist, they have gone into hiding.
When the real people emerge from their hiding places and come back to the traditional workplace, their former office or the new one, they are going to have to dust off their people skills and start practicing effective communication and relationship building.
So, what can you do to facilitate courteous communication and build stronger professional relationships? For starters, put an end to workplace ghosting.
- If you drop the ball, acknowledge your error. You accidently deleted the voice mail before you listened to it. The email got buried in your inbox. You forgot to check your calendar. Things happen, but the way you deal with them is what makes the difference.
- You dread having to deliver unwelcome news. It’s your jo so do it and do it person. If it makes you uncomfortable, consider this: most people would rather hear the bad news than nothing at all.
- Do not use technology to relay complicated or sensitive information. Email, texting and instant messaging are no substitute for in person communication. Pick up the phone or arrange to meet.
- Use every opportunity you can to have personal interaction with your coworkers, colleagues and clients. It’s time to go back in the water. (Thank you, Jaws.)
The return to work is exciting for many reasons, not the least of which is the opportunity for people and organizations to sharpen their communication and relationship-building skills.
***The inspiration for this article came from reading one written by Patrick Galvin, professional speaker and author of The Way series of popular business parables. He is also the chief galvanizer of The Galvanizing Group, a learning and development company.