Maybe you’ve encountered them. If you’re in sales, you encounter them all the time in your prospects. But we also find them close to us. Maybe you have one or more in your organization or even your own family. Maybe you’re even one yourself. I’m referring to Vanishers – people who disappear for days or weeks or even longer periods of time.
Now, they don’t actually disappear. They lay low. They avoid you. They don’t return your emails, voice mails, texts and so on. You’re either on their back burner, off their radar or you’ve become persona non grata.
If you’re like me, this behavior annoys you or even makes you angry, especially when you don’t know why the person is avoiding you. At best, it is discourteous. At worst, it is a passive-aggressive way to hurt you. In the absence of the information that comes via our interpersonal communication, we fill in the blanks. And we don’t fill in blanks with warm and fuzzies. We project our insecurities and fears into that void. That’s why Vanishers cause us consternation.
It may or may not be personal. Likely it is much more about them than it is you. But that doesn’t mean the behavior doesn’t hurt. It hurts both of you. They have their avoidance lingering in their mind, renting space, causing guilt or just adding to their long TTD list. You wonder what you did wrong, if you made them mad, what you might do to remedy things. Avoidance is a bad strategy 99% of the time (I’ll reserve 1% for people who need to avoid stalkers, bad exes, pushy salespeople that don’t take the tenth firm ‘no’ and other extreme cases.) So what’s going on? Why do people often behave this way?
First, they’re busy. It’s no excuse, but it is a reason. They don’t mean anything by it. They just don’t have enough life mastery to treat everyone in their lives with due respect. Second, they’re afraid. There’s something about communicating with you that they would rather not deal with. It might be telling you no. It might be avoidance of confrontation. Maybe they just don’t like you and don’t want to deal with it. This is also no excuse. But it is also a reason.
Lastly, it might just be habit. It’s not a good habit. But who doesn’t have a few bad habits? I try hard not to be a Vanisher, because I don’t like it when it is done to me. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t done it. So I apologize to anyone I may have treated this way. And I forgive anyone who has been a Vanisher to me. (There have been a few, even some good friends, business partners and family members.) My hope and prayer is that we can all grow to a higher level where we treat people with respect and respond in a reasonable time to them, whether we give them what they want or we don’t. The world will be a better place for it.