When all the red lipstick has faded

As we like to do often on a Friday, I met up with Marta Hurtado in Café Bota, a wonderful little restaurant right in the heart of Botanique gardens in Brussels. Our Friday lunches are never chillax, but more buzzing on the edge of our seat, full of chatter and laughter, insights and learnings.

“Sweetie, how are you? And how was your week?” Marta starts out.

“Oh I have had such a challenging week.” I reply to truth. “But it’s good, in a way, because each challenge brings lessons. It pushes me to see things in a different light and to choose my reactions wisely. Although I don’t always succeed at that.”

“Yes, best is not to react immediately.” Marta’s wise words come forth. “Let the ego abide before you answer. Always think how you can encounter a situation with grace.”

“Uh…” Is the noise that resounds from me. “That strikes me off the graceful list.”

“Tell me what happened.” Marta is curious to know what has been going on.

“Well first of all there is this agency run by two lesbian women.” I start recounting. “I’ve worked with them several times in the past. But a few years ago, they did something not very good. They kept asking me to write up Google Adwords offers for their clients. And each time they told me that the client had declined. Until I heard afterwards from a fellow consultant that in fact I was writing the offers whilst cheaper labour was being used to perform what I had strategically planned.”

“No!” Marta exclaims. “And you didn’t get paid for this?”

“No I didn’t.” I sound disgruntled. “But it’s my own fault for not putting a stop to this. I had told them some time ago that I had found out about their deceit. And that was that. Now last week, the same pattern all over again. They asked me for an offer and then ran with it again. I shouldn’t have allowed it. So anyway, after that I removed them from my social networks.”

“But darling, you shouldn’t isolate yourself like that. That’s never a good reaction to have.” Marta looks at me sternly. “You should have made yourself respected and told them that this is not how you expect to be treated. And then set the rules for future exchanges.”

“Wish I had thought of that.” I murmur. “What do you think, Dorothy?”

“Anyways I think too much has happened to bring respect back into the equation here.” Dorothy has a gloomy look on her face. “I think you did well in removing them from your circle and walking away.”

“I don’t know.” I reply hesitantly. “I believe Marta has a point here. I was angry and deleted the connection. But it still hasn’t resolved anything. Like Marta said, I haven’t told them how I expect to be treated. What my terms of collaboration are.”

“Just think about it, Sweetie.” Marta continues. “It will come to you. But always aim to come from a place of love and grace. Those are the best strategies to have in life. I understand how you feel and that you get fierce like a dragon. Remember, you always have the choice of your reaction and the ability to shape your life as you want it.”

“That is so true.” I ponder. “But I just don’t see from where I am now, in the middle of this situation, what that would look like. What do you think, Wim darling?”

“I don’t think it’s all bad that you removed them from your social circles.” Wim replies. “But I would send them an email stating that you know from a well-informed source that they get you to write the professional offer and then get somebody cheaper to execute it.”

“That’s right, I should send them an email confronting them about it and explaining exactly why I don’t wish to work with them anymore.” I am happy to finally envision a solution for this. “The reason I’m so sure about this that it is not hear-say, is that it’s the person who actually performed the task who told me what was going on.”

“It’s a small world.” Dorothy intervenes. “What goes around, comes around.”

“You see darling.” Marta smiles soothingly. “Don’t view this as something bad that this person did to you. See it more as an opportunity you took to tell the world how you wish to be treated, on which terms you will or will not collaborate with people. And most of all, that you demand respect for the expertise and advise you bring to the table.”

Fast forward a few hours. I sent the email to the ladies concerned, stating that I was outraged and disappointed in the way of working. No sooner than I had sent the mail, my phone rings and the recipient of my angry-dragon mail was on the other side of the receiver.

“But dearest, what is all this.” The lady asks me with much concern. “Who is telling all these lies? What is this about? I swear that we have never used you in such a way. I respect your work. I know how difficult your situation is, with your children and your life partner. I respect you very much. Please, let us clear up this misunderstanding.”

“Look, I don’t believe these are lies.” I retort. “My source could quote by name the clients I had written offers for. And she said she worked on the campaigns instead.”

“Oh dear, let me tell you how it really went.” Said the lady’s voice. “We wanted to help your source, as she was scared of losing her job and she was stuck in a very unhappy home situation. But when the work she produced fell short to our standards, we showed her how we expected offers to be composed. Really, you should ask yourself why this person is trying to get between us. She’s jealous of our level of expertise, and at the same time she looks up to us and admires us very much. It’s such a pity all of this.”

“Hmmm…” I ponder. “Talking about this now over the phone does throw another light on the story. It wouldn’t make sense to ask me for an offer and then get someone else to do it. You would just ask that person from the word go to write the offer and then carry through. Very strange indeed.”

“Dear, if I didn’t respect you for the wonderful woman you are, would I pick up my phone to call you immediately?” She begs me to think further. “Would I really go through all this trouble to talk to you. And knowing who you are and the hardships you face, would I really stoop so low to mislead and misuse you? No my dear, I am not that kind of person.”


And think about it for a moment, peeps. Your life journey is just that … a journey. There are times when you might need to change course, adjust practices, or let go of certain beliefs. Whether you’re been stuck or seeking growth, you must always set your boundaries and communicate clearly how you wish to be treated. The diva in me insists.


I think I should have titled this post “Cat Fight”. Smile. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.



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