The Ghosts We Once Knew …

(Snippits from our oh so popular Digital Glue Podcast!)

Today we’re going to be talking about a topic that’s sensitive to most, as we’ve all experienced this one time or another – whether in our business or personal lives … GHOSTING! It’s a real thing in the business world.

That’s right folks, just like the culture of “swiping right” on Tinder and all those other dating apps, ghosting isn’t just for the dating world anymore … It has spilled over into the professional aspect of our lives, with negative consequences. And it hurts!


As Cambridge dictionary puts it, ghosting is a way of ending a relationship with someone by stopping all communication with them.

This disappearing act has entered our lexicon. It’s a biproduct of simply diminishing face-to-face interaction. Others say it’s because they’re “too busy” to give priority to the small things. Which we feel are equally as important. But to us on the other end … it is the angst-filled question in our heads that haunts us to the core: what to do when you’re ghosted by a client, prospect or even virtual team member? And why?

It’s a scenario we’ve all been through … You’re happily working away with a client in which (hopefully) you have much fun with. Then *BAM!* the contract is near done or perhaps fully completed and pure and utter silence in your inbox. So, you send a quick “HELLO!” or reminder and wait. Then you wait … and wait … and wait … And nothing.

Then after refreshing your email 10 times, checking your texts and social DM’s, you officially realize … you’ve been professionally ghosted! Now what?

Three short words … LET. IT. GO.


There are an endless number of reasons why said person may have ghosted you. Some may be about you, but many are not. You’re feeling stressed, let down, and frustrated with yourself for making an unknown mistake to cause this. And maybe you’re even a little sad that all communication has been lost with this person.

It’s not hard to search for subtext when you get no response, and your inbox is hearing crickets. And if you’re anything like me, your brain takes you in a million different directions, none of them happy ones. You keep racking your brain as to “what did I do wrong?” thus ending in sleepless nights trying to figure things out that are well out of your control as you don’t want to feel like this EVER AGAIN!

It boils down to this … Most likely, it’s not you, it’s 100% them.


Here’s a few reasons they may be ghosting you …

  • They may be putting out virtual fires or something personal came up.

  • They may be juggling a bazillion things and reprioritizing as they go.
    • The work you’ve been doing with them all this time may have been top notch priority at the time, but now it’s 25th on the list. This is completely normal — especially if your client is a small business owner just like you.

  • They may now feel your service offerings are too expensive for them and aren’t quite sure how to bring it up. Which is a legitimate reason, but not to ghost.

  • They may have had this as their deliberate strategy from the start. Smart-ish psychological effects are one thing, but deliberate cheap skating is another. Some people (for some crazy reason) secretly choose to not pay you or work with you long-term from the moment they hired you. Can you imagine?

  • They may just plainly have bad manners – which is a bit blunt but for whatever reason, the way our virtual world has evolved into the impersonal nature of communicating with someone has made it “okay” to just end a conversation without warning or social repercussion. Sometimes it’s easier for people to simply ignore than respond.

You truly just need to take a step back and evaluate what you could have done differently. Learn from it. Then move on.


Although professional ghosting behaviour may be nothing to worry about, it may still have a huge impact on your business. You’re invoicing and other projects and jobs you may have lined up are all out of whack! After all, you’re not quite sure when your client will be coming back to say, “Hi, I’m back – and I need these projects done by end of day tomorrow …” Or if they’re even coming back at all.

Personally, at Virtually Untangled, we have experienced this a good handful of times. Some clients get so “tangled” that they become overwhelmed and sometimes can’t keep up with our extreme level of organization, productivity, and creativity. Our guess is they fall off the wagon or are embarrassed about their virtual mess, so they choose to stop all communication and take everything on themselves.

There have even been times when we were afraid to take on new projects and new clients in fear of the ghosting client’s time response – because it was so whacky. They would drop out of sight, then pop back in without moments notice (sometimes weeks or even months down the road), then want all their projects or edits RIGHT now no matter what. And without a care of respect in the world of what may be going on at our end.

Ain’t nobody got time for that! And honestly … we feel it is extremely inconsiderate and super RUDE!

So, if ghosting is something you have experienced or perhaps experiencing right now and you’re feeling flustered and out of whack, it’s time to put things back on the right virtual path and set some boundaries. And to help ease this frustrating paint point, here’s what we do …

  • Only send ONE follow-up email, in which we like to call the “buried email” trick. Ask them if your email got buried in their inbox and if they would like you to close their file. If whatever you’re working on is important to them — and they value and respect you — they will respond.

  • Respect their hesitation and leave your virtual door open. You know what your time is worth, but they need to realize this on their own. If they come back and you have the capacity to bring them back as a client then feel free to do so. Just remember that “no” is also a very acceptable answer. No explanation required. We here at VU prefer to give the benefit of the doubt and not blacklist ghosting clients. We like to hear them out then provide ourselves enough time to make a sound decision on whether (or not) to re-open our virtual door.

  • Create contract options that include upfront payments. This is a completely normal professional practice — especially if you offer bundled services or retainer package options for the month-to-month’ers. You can’t stop them from ghosting, but you can stop them from running away with your money by only doing work that has been paid for in advance and saving yourself a lot of anguish and possible financial loss.

  • Honour your contract statements. If there is an expiry date for purchased time and the ghoster ghosts mid-contract, ensure it’s in your signed agreement that you will make so many attempts before the contract becomes null and void due to lack of communication. Our sounds like this …
    • “If the Client does not communicate within the means of this contract with information needed to facilitate an agreed upon project within said contract, The Consultant will attempt to communicate a total of 3 times (via email) within a 90-day period with the pending project requirements. Upon no response of value and substance, this contract will be null and void 3 days after the last attempted communication.
    • And because we offer social media services … “This includes any unpublished social media posts Virtually Untangled has created and pre-scheduled while under contract for the Client. If contract is declared null and void due to no response of value and substance within a 90-day period, all social media posts that are pre-scheduled to be published on the date of voiding and thereafter, will be deleted.”

  • Make your contracts non-refundable and retainer contract time hours non-transferable. This will save you in the long run from many difficult excuse-type conversations. The time must be used up or lost. However, there are some exceptions like you had a family or medical emergency or they did. We feel this should be honoured as we’re only human and some things are out of our control.

  • Learn to let go of your crazy organized timelines. This one is SO HARD sometimes. Especially if you’re as crazy nerdy organized and productive as we are. If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed because you made some virtual magic happen for your client, but they’re not responding, that’s on them, not you. Just because it was a priority at the time for them and you’re proud of what you did, the client may not feel the same. So, let it go and work on something else.

  • Set project management boundaries. You clients can voice their preferences and more than welcome to try to push their deliverable schedule – but they need to know you may not be able to immediately fit them back into your schedule just because they are now ready. Especially if their contract was completed or expired before the ghosting began. This will save you time from having to scramble and switch gears after they finally decide to resurface.

  • If they have been fired, they should remain in that virtual space. Oddly, this happens from time to time … Maybe you weren’t the right fit to work together. If you’re paid up, you’re good. And if they come crawling back begging for a second chance but your gut is telling you to run for the hills, then stick with that feeling. However, maybe they’re not a flake, and the instance that got them fired isn’t how they normally operate … Well, that’s up to you to reconsider. But word of caution, move back into work mode gradually without a long-term contract in place. Just to test the waters and see if these patterns re-arise.


For some strange ass reason, we are seeing a big pattern of cancelation in general in our society, in large part because technology makes it so damn easy to ghost. And the weight of ghosting (to some) doesn’t feel as heavy because we’re all busier than ever nowadays. So, some give themselves permission to “cancel” things without much thought, or consideration as to how it affects or makes the other person feel. I truly honestly do feel that most times, these ghosts we once knew, are probably having a difficult time deciding how to say good-bye, or think it’s going to be too awkward a conversation, so they just choose to do nothing and move on.

We’re virtually stuck in a “no face-to-face communication — no responsibility” aka “out of sight — out of mind” generation. It’s like an internet virus of the people …!

In our virtual opinion, we feel this should never happen in the business world.

If you no longer need or want the service offerings you were once receiving, just say so. If something didn’t work out as you wanted and you’re not happy about it and would rather move on, just say so that way the other party can learn from it and move on as well. No longer in the budget? Tell them you need break but may be back in the near future. You do not have to explain, but common courtesy of letting them know would be preferred by all. And I am not just saying this because that’s what we would prefer … In talking with many other business owners, this is what we would all prefer … from one human to another.

Another quick thing we want to touch base on before we let you head back into your own “untangling” land … sometimes there are tell-tale signs that they’re going to become the ghost you once knew.

Here’s what to keep an eye out for …

  • They are almost bully-like in trying to negotiate during contract discussions, estimates, proposals, and timelines.
  • They are unwilling to agree to YOUR TERMS and do not pay on time.
  • They try to tell you how much you should charge them — instead of paying the reasonable fee / down payment.
  • They question and scrutinize the terms of your contracts — even after it’s been signed by all parties involved.

Now keep in mind, these are just some examples we’ve talked about with other business owners or experienced ourselves. And they could just be one off instances, especially if this is the first time said client has contracted anything out. If this is the case, individually these signs probably don’t mean much.

But if you happen to notice a pattern of the client doing several of these, and often, it may be time for you to reconsider having them on your roster. So, cut your losses or take extra precautions to secure that final payment before continuing the work – or letting them know you’re not able to move forward after “blank” has been completed.


Sadly, we believe that one can never completely dodge the ghosts we once knew. And as a small business owner — especially if living full-time in the virtual world — you will run into more of them that you’d like. People are unpredictable and are as fluid and flexible as you are.

So, it’s simple really … they stop paying, you stop working. No if’s, ands, or buts about it. At least this way, you can minimize the risks by organizing the work process for your business properly and move on to work with other or new clients who respect and value you — and your business.


Share with us …

Have you ever been ghosted by a client? A dream prospect? Maybe even a team member? How did you handle it?


Let the digital “untangling” BEGIN … Just pop in your earbuds and hop onto one of your favourite channels by clicking any of the links below!


You can also find The Digital Glue Podcast HERE on our website, or by subscribing to our YouTube Channel.

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Picture of Crystal Kordalchuk

Crystal Kordalchuk

Crystal is an artist, a writer, an organizer, a dreamer, a doer, and down-right proud of it NERD!.

Struck with a love for #AllThings creative at a very young age, Crystal dreamed of a life fueled by her passion for creating and bringing the stories and images in her mind into reality.

As she worked toward her dreams, she earned a diploma as a Computer Applications Specialist then another in Graphic Design and from there began to develop her extensive background in multimedia and the arts. She began her worked in the magazine industry as a layout designer and had a succession of design jobs thereafter. It was her role as a graphic/web designer that gave her the first real glimpse of her future. Soon she began a side job as a freelance designer while keeping one foot in the corporate world. A spark was lit! She turned her freelance gig into a full-time business combining design work with her other passion: creating organization from virtual chaos.

Crystal is one of the most organized individuals on the planet. She is by all means a Zen master of her crafts. She excels at helping others become “untangled” and provides her clients with tools to run their businesses smoothly while she takes care of the details behind the scenes. Thus Virtually Untangled was born. A successful business where her work as a top notch creative in graphic and web — with a twist of virtual assistant — married into one amazing place where clients can come with their virtual messes and become magically untangled. Crystal can always make sense of even the most unorganized chaos and offers a virtual detox of order and peace, so her clients can get busy doing the work that they love the most.

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