By Kandice Henning, Alive Center Founder and CEO
Somewhere along the way it became acceptable to ignore people as a form of communication instead of a simple “no” or “maybe”. We are living in a technological time where we frequently communicate via our devices. Although this can make communication easier in many ways, it also takes away the body language and a more personal touch. Communicating behind a device does not change our commitments however. Integrity, trust, and respect all still need to be earned. I don’t think that I’m going out on a limb here to say that when you ignore someone, you are breaking down their trust. This new trend of ghosting is simply not cool, it fact, it is cowardly. If you can’t rely on someone to be open, honest and direct, you will think twice about working with them again or having them as a friend. I like to use the golden rule and treat others the way that I want to be treated.
I do not believe that it is acceptable to quit something – be it a club, an event or a relationship – without telling them face to face. Have the courage to have the conversation. Courage is mental or moral strength to persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty. It is not a bad thing to say “no”. Saying “no” shows that you know your boundaries. It shows people that they can rely on your to be open and honest. Learning to say “no” was a key pivot point in my own personal learning. I learned that I was not letting other down but instead was building the best me. It enabled me to own my personal power by prioritizing and focusing on what is truly important to me. It also helps me builds trust with others as they know that they will always get a straight answer from me. For example, when I was at Accenture, I learned to close my laptop at 5pm and to not open it again until I started working the next morning. My productivity did not go down, but up as my work life balance was better and thus I was happier.
One thing I’ve learned in life is to never burn a bridge. You never know when you’re going to run into people again or when you might need them or their support. And let’s not forget that we need to look ourselves in the mirror every day. Be someone that people can trust. Treat others the way you want to be treated. I truly respect the teens that say to me, “sorry Kandice, but I have too many big things on my plate right now and I can’t take on anything else”. It takes courage and it shows strength. It is authentic, honest and trustworthy. The important thing is to do it with integrity and tact. As Don Miguel Ruiz says in The Four Agreements, “be impeccable with your word.” If you say “yes” in a moment to placate someone but don’t follow through, you are letting them down way more than if you had simply said “no” to begin with. If you say you are going to do something, do it. Take ownership of your decisions. If you can’t do something you committed to or are behind your deadline, then get back to the person and tell them so. The same goes for relationships. People respect direct, honest communication. Take ownership of our priorities and your actions. No one else can do it for you.
I would like to challenge you to be a person that others can rely on, whether you are giving them a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. Next time you think of ignoring someone, please consider the ramifications. Consider who you want to be and how you want to be treated. For what we put out into the world is what we get back.