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  • Writer's pictureGigi Fergus

The Ghouls of Communication

In honor of the change in seasons and the entirety of the Halloween season (how many times do we have to watch “Hocus Pocus”?), I’d like to highlight the six ghouls of communication – regardless of industry or position. (Some of this is tongue in cheek – some is eerily accurate. You decide which is which.) If one of these shows up in your life, think carefully, "Is this a trick or a treat?"

Ghosting – You send a response email, apply for a job, leave a voice message, call a contact, and… crickets. Radio silence. No response. In this day and age when we always have our phones within a 5-foot radius of our bodies, it is hard for me to believe that the recipient did not, in fact, receive the message. So, what gives? Just close the loop. I’d rather get a solid “No” than just have the response sit out in the void. Of course, the converse is true as well: if you don’t want to be ghosted, don’t ghost others. What is an acceptable length of time before you must answer? I have always tried to live by the 24-hour rule. Sometimes it’s impossible to achieve but it certainly is a goal to work toward. If you haven’t heard back in 72 hours, move on.

Poltergeists – You get a call from a former contact about a new offering (job, product, service) and you get excited, do some research, and start making some effort. Then poof! They disappear. A few months later they circle back around again with another offering. Things start flying off your desk, charm oozes down your walls, and then Poof! They are gone again. Poltergeists are responsible for creating disturbances but no real advancement, and only a mess of activity left behind. Best to exorcize yourself from them.

Frankensteins – You are focused on your job, dedicated to supporting your colleagues, will offer a helping hand anytime. A friend/colleague is having a tough time, wandering around, mumbling, with a shuffling gait, and a lack of direction. You encourage them, support them, and they continue to pursue your help. Over and over and over again. Even when you call them for support or assistance because they have a piece of the puzzle, they continue to demand your attention for the purpose of advancing their own needs. Please tighten their bolts, give them a jolt of energy around their pursuit, and then point them in a new direction (away from you).

Spiderwebs – Seemingly everywhere, sticky, and constantly tricking others into the fray, spiderwebs and the spiders that weave them feed off of getting you caught up in their story or the offer without you being aware that this is actually happening. Think those businesses that want you to pay them to find you a job, or where you pay to get the training to start your business. It’s easy to get stuck in the web without considering all of the ramifications of being connected to that entity… think multilevel marketing or pyramid schemes.

Zombies – Salespeople or recruiters who call and use the same spiel with every person, regardless of appropriateness are living zombies. Typically, they just drone on to hit their quota. Robo-callers, recruiters who send emails to 10,000 candidates off of a job board as long as they match one word like “professional,” and consultants with less experience, knowledge and skill than you do who drone on telling you what you are doing wrong with that plastic smile on their face are the epitome of the zombie in 2020. Listening to them for too long can cause your eyes to roll back in your head, drooling, and fuzzy thinking.

Pumpkinheads – Happy to be here, and no idea why they are here. They look good on the outside but kind of slimy on the inside. Once in awhile you see a light go on inside them, a spark of brilliance, and then they go to sleep and the next day is like starting all over again. You’ll spend most of the day trying to reignite the little candle inside them, and I’m sorry to say that this will be to no avail. Best to look for a pumpkinhead that has an internal source of light like ambition, desire, professional growth. Groom them, clean them out and fill them up with the light of the possibilities.

There are several other categories – werewolves who always seem to be howling at the moon in a cyclic pattern, witches who seek nothing more than to be subversive and sabotage your efforts then fly away on their broom, skeletons who have a decent structure just no meat to their proposals, and bats who seem to fly around the office looking for a place to perch while sucking the life out of those around them while you wonder if they actually do any work. (As you can tell, I’m lucky to have survived this long having met several of the ghouls in my professional career.)

Whether you are a victim of the ghouls of communication or the perpetrator thereof, remember that you have the ability to cast the ghouls from your doorstep and from your life. That might be the real treat.

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