Everything was going so well and then they just disappear – no comments, no messages, no response, they just disappear. It’s so irritating because as far as you were aware, they were making all the right noises, saying the right things and were ready to commit, and in fact had – verbally! How do you manage your phantoms and where else have you had to deal with them?

Business is not personal but when a phantom strikes and they just don’t have the common courtesy to let you know what is going on, what the next step is or that there has been a change of direction, it just seems plain rude and we tend to take it personally. But it’s not personal – is it?

Quite often it’s down to our own ego, that success, the signature, the new client, the hitting target, all of the above and then for no reason that we aware of the deal appears to be snatched away from us at the last minute. I have always used a scale in business where you only get 7/10 for the contract, 8/10 is the delivery, 9/10 is paid and 10/10 is repeat booking. According to that scale a verbal agreement without a contract is only 6/10 so why are you celebrating early? There is a long way to go yet before the deal is done!

Phantom is terminology that is also used in dating terms which is of course very similar to the sales journey in business. Dating is about trying a relationship on for size where not everything fits, and one size definitely doesn’t fit all. The crux comes when you realise someone isn’t for you and the only decent thing to do is tell them so they can draw a line under it and move on. Sadly, this is not what happens.

Even if the reason you don’t want to be with them is shallow or you don’t want to offend them with the truth, at least use the generic “not compatible” or “I don’t feel any chemistry” line. Just something, don’t do a phantom and disappear – say anything to show you aren’t completely ignoring the fact they opened themselves up to the potential of a relationship with you. The end of every love story deserves a full stop, so grow some balls (you too, ladies) and have the decency to end things right.

Ghosting is another way of describing the same practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication. This is done in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them he/she is no longer interested. Ghosting is not specific to a certain gender and is closely related to the subject’s maturity and communication skills. Many people attempt to justify ghosting as a way to cease dating the ghostee without hurting their feelings, but in fact it proves the subject is thinking more of themselves, as ghosting often creates more confusion for the ghostee than if the subject kindly stated how he/she feels. Back to that need for a full stop!

I’m not saying in your relationships that you have been guilty of doing a phantom or ghosting partners, it’s the analogy of how we deal with uncomfortable conversations or the ability to view the world through the other party’s perspective. Quite often a phantom is actually a business where circumstances have changed slightly, and you are just on hold for a week or two, a crisis has taken place in the business professionally or personally and simply you are not priority number 1 today.

There is your answer, what priority level are you in their eyes? If this is not established early on you might believe you are far higher up their agenda than you really are. When you believe they are being rude and doing a phantom it can be simply that the priority order on the agenda has you at number 47 rather than in the top five for actioning this week as you hoped, you are in fact on the list for next spring!! If this is the case it’s clearly not personal, just not priority.

Time to ask better questions and gain clearer commitment, there will always be anomalies that catch you by surprise despite your best intentions. I have exactly that situation at the time of writing this, what’s my plan of action I hear you say? Simple – stay in the loop, keep trying and if nothing comes of it so be it, if it’s too much hard work to land the client maybe that speaks hugely for what an ongoing relationship would be like when working together! You’re not the priority or they are just high maintenance – move onto the next!

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