My mother, when she felt particularly playful and had time on her hands, would always take unsolicited calls. You know the ones – coming from a call centre somewhere in the world. She would patiently listen to their sales pitch and lure them into a false sense of security, like the time when a loft conversion company called her. She let him give her the whole sales pitch and when he got to the point of arranging a site visit, she asked whether he thought her neighbour above her would have any objections. Because she lived in a first-floor apartment. She definitely wasn’t a silly girl, just a razor sharp 86-year-old who wanted to have some fun.

So, what goes on in commerce when companies are invited to set up a meeting to introduce a new product or service?  Time is invested prepping a deck and travelling across town. They meet, chat, and have a great conversation where ideas are challenged and shared.  A thank you for the meeting email is sent and then…nothing. The person who invited them doesn’t reply or follow up. Literally radio and email silence.  

Has ghosting someone finally made it from the dating scene into mainstream commercial transactions? Why are we scared to say “Thanks, very interesting but not for me at the moment”? With communication now almost totally through technology, it’s very easy to ‘ignore’ someone trying to contact you. Or are we just having fun and playing with someone, just like my mum?

Yeah, I know, we all get bombarded with emails that we have not initiated or invited into our mailbox and it’s a pain. Sometimes my inbox is bulging with unread emails, but it’s courtesy to reply to those that require an answer.

Perhaps it’s because I am what in today’s marketplace is called a Founder. When I started, I had to ‘kiss a lot of ugly frogs’ to get a positive response when I was chasing new business. It was hard work. So today I will always respond to someone after a pitch or meeting when they send over further information. I even admire all those tenacious salespeople who follow up on a lead when I have clicked through for further information. I try to take their call or even to say “not interested at the moment” – they have a thankless job.

In The Sunday Times India Knight commented that this year was the first in too many that she was actually writing and sending out Christmas cards. She said it was a way to spread joy in an uncivilised world.

Let’s all make a promise to ourselves in 2020 to bring back a little civility to our pressurised commercial world. Let’s just take the time to say, “Thank you”. I am sure we will all feel better for it.

Ruth Simmons, CEO, soundlounge.