Email Ghosting

E-mail Ghosting. Photo by Nordwood on

Last week I wrote about Job Search Ghosting, and this week I’d like to focus on emails in particular. (My personal journey with being the ultimate ghost can also be read here in this 3-part series!)

What is “email ghosting”? 

Basically, you send an email and don’t get a response. This applies both to the school and work setting.

Sometimes, it can be an answer that is very important to you, and may be required for you to move on to your next step in the project. You, the ghostee, are left wondering if your email went to spam, but you hesitate to be pushy and resend the email.

So why don’t people reply? 

I believe there are 2 sides to every story, so I hope that this article can shed light on both the ghost and the ghostee perspectives. Below are some main reasons why ghosting with emails exists, and some ideas for improvement (whether you are the ghost or the ghostee). 


1 – Too many notifications

We have too many sources of notifications in addition to emails: texts, social media, office messaging, etc. If you have a work phone, then it might be double. On top of it, if you’re working in an office or school setting, you also have physical interruptions like people chatting to or around you. We are constantly bombarded by noises and notifications, and it’s super easy for our brain to be distracted. 

If you are the Ghost: turn off unnecessary notifications at work or school so you can focus and get back to the people who are waiting for your reply.

If you are the Ghostee: please be patient and give the other person the benefit of the doubt. If it’s really important, try following up later and don’t overwhelm with too many questions and emails.


2 – Other forms of communication

Although some companies are moving away from email and towards collaboration platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams, the current consensus is that email is here to stay (2019 Adobe Email Usage Study). Email is still required for access to online sources, and it is still used more than any other form of communication (Radicati Group). Unfortunately, having all these forms of communication leaves us scattered.

If you are the Ghost: Consider what you use to communicate, and be sure that others know which platform is the best one to reach you at. If you absolutely never check email, then you shouldn’t tell others your address. If you add your email address to your resume, then you should make a habit of checking that account. If your company uses email, consider it part of your job to be timely in responding to emails.

If you are the Ghostee: consider which outlet you want to use as your main form of communication, and consider what your contacts are using. If email is your preferred form, but your contacts are mostly on LinkedIn InMail, then consider switching for some contacts so that the communication won’t be disrupted.


3 – Too many emails 

I remember when I would be happy hearing the “You’ve got mail” message because someone from across the city or country wrote me an email. Now, I turn my sound notification off because emails come in faster and in greater volume than ever before.  

If you are the Ghost: Focus on succinct to be quick, instead of detailed which takes more time. This doesn’t mean to do a bad job, though, so be sure it’s not riddled with grammatical mistakes and omissions that require the person to follow up with you again. Just know what the person wants to know, and give them that.

If you are the Ghostee: Create emails that are easy to read and respond to. You can highlight the sentence that is the most important so your reader’s eyes can go directly to what you want them to answer. If you ramble, your reader will probably get to it later – which could mean never if that email gets lost in their inbox. Don’t forget that you can also call or meet with the person to get an answer instead of writing an email.


4 – We are all very busy in general

We are all very busy with family, school, work and fun, and no one wants to spend all day doing their email.

If you are the Ghost or Ghostee: it just makes sense to be respectful of others’ time. (I’ll be writing a blog post on email etiquette in the future with more ideas.)


Back to hourensou

This topic is very much in line with hourensou, which I passionately wrote about in a previous blog post (“Hourensou – It Does a Business Good”) and define as having respectful communication skills.

In conclusion

At the end of the day, we all want to spend less time writing emails and more time doing other things. 

Let’s show some mutual respect when it comes to emails (or any other form of communication):

  • write clearly and concisely 
  • give quick and succinct responses

Do you have any particular solutions that work for you? Let me know what you think by posting below or in my social media!

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top