When Words Cease – No Feedback Culture

Today’s managers readily embrace new trends in breaking off connections and relationships. Ghosting is a term for a type of behavior (primarily related to online communication on social networks, where with one click you can “erase” someone as if they never existed) that, when applied to real-life interactions, means the sudden cessation of all forms of communication: you suddenly stop responding to someone, as if you had, heaven forbid, died, and you no longer care about anything related to that person, acting as if they never existed. The ability to empathize – the capacity to emotionally understand what another person is experiencing, to put yourself in their position, and to experience their feelings – makes us human. Unfortunately, empathy is not developed in everyone, and in the business world, especially in circles at the highest levels of advancement, it is treated as an unimportant and unnecessary trait. Instead of someone listening to you, understanding you, and helping you if needed, you can simply be – ignored. This is one of the common forms of communication in the corporate world. Get used to it because – you will often feel like you don’t exist. Ignoring someone expresses the notion that the person being ignored is not worthy of our attention. Even if this is not the primary intent, it is often equated with humiliation. It is a subtle form of aggression and antisocial practice, consisting of viewing others with indifference to their feelings and values, as if they do not exist, have no rights, or dignity. Rejecting people is a form of moral and psychological violence. It is an expression of cruelty, which some, unfortunately, believe they have the right to practice.

However, in the business context, this ignoring is not personal and usually isn’t meant to be. The person from whom it originates simply lacks basic communication culture or the habit of responding to sent emails, messages, etc. If the non-response is planned, in most cases the goal is not to humiliate the other side, but rather a desire to hide something, delay it, forget it, leave it unrecorded and unnoticed. This, of course, doesn’t make you feel any better because it is never pleasant to be ignored.

No feedback culture is a novelty in today’s corporations that has taken hold, and, strangely, it hasn’t been included in written rules of behavior. If superiors do not want to leave a written record of what you are asking (no response to an email or any written message), it only shows that: 1) they don’t know, 2) they don’t want to take responsibility, 3) they want to blame you for something. Do not accept this as a normal form of communication because communication does not exist if the other side does not respond. Do not allow yourself to engage in such behavior, no matter how often you encounter it. If you are confident in yourself and your decisions, always respond. This is, above all, a sign of good manners and upbringing, and then of professionalism, business ethics, sincerity, and true leadership, which involves respecting employees and caring for them. Why wouldn’t someone want to respond in writing? Because “the internet remembers everything.” A written record is proof and can very easily become viral. If you have nothing smart to say in your favor, want to divert attention, do not want to delve into something, or want it to be forgotten – you will stay silent and “play dead.”

I have always worked transparently and insisted on written records. If someone (a superior or a close associate of theirs) has a suggestion, let them freely write it down, and then we will comment on it. I am always ready to give my view of the situation, as well as a recommendation, and I always accept the decision of the “higher paid opinion” manager – which they must formally sign. Maybe they know something I don’t, so I don’t have enough information for the right decision. If I disagree with the decision, there is a reason, and I can freely communicate about it, but I will never allow someone to hide behind “my” decisions. Whoever speaks the truth has nothing to fear. Yes, I am not afraid to express my opinion, never, and that is a very important feature of my character. We are all unique and we all have different priorities. All of that is legitimate. Do what makes you happy, but don’t hurt others. “Live and let live” (or die).

There used to be much more care about the reputation that a company enjoys in public. Today, of course, this tendency still exists, and it is very pronounced in some companies, but generally, the potential damage to reputation is not considered particularly important. The memory of modern man is any way comparable to that of a goldfish. It is very short-lived, unfortunately. In the age of information hyperinflation, news becomes outdated incredibly quickly. We read or hear some news, comment on it on social networks or, in old-fashioned style – in person, with friends, and by the next day, a new, fresh topic for discussion will already appear. There is no persistence in the fight against evil. The desire appears initially, the resolve to prevail with good, but that enthusiasm is too short-lived, soon the topic ceases to be current. This is precisely what makes society dehumanized, nobody cares, and people become corporate zombies – without feelings.

Ignoring is a perfect tactic for avoiding undesirable actions, circumstances, and results… By staying silent, you might (or certainly) lose face, but you maintain the illusion that everything is fine. For many, this is the only way of “communication” because – to communicate, you must have something to say and it is desirable (better said – necessary) to stand behind your words. If you can’t or don’t know how to do that – then you stay silent. So, don’t take it personally if you don’t get a response.