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I am a localization manager/translator and intercultural consultant living in Berlin (Germany), passionate about languages, cultures, diversity management, dancing and good movies.  

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Sunday, February 21, 2016

True pathogens, opportunistic pathogens and the life motto that can help you to recognize the true and loyal friends in your life

I am not interested in being original. I am interested in being true. 

George Agostinho Baptista da Silva 
better known as Agostinho da Silva [1906-1994]

In the medical literature, it is common to differentiate between "true pathogens" and "opportunistic pathogens": while true pathogens are viruses and bacteria that can be harmful for all individuals and are responsible to cause specific diseases, opportunistic pathogens are not always harmful for healthy individuals but can be very threatening for individuals with a weakened immune system.

[True vs. Opportunistic pathogens
Image source: Slideplayer.Com]

Lately I came to the conclusion that this could be a great analogy for something happening in our day-by-day life too, where all of us are exposed to other kinds of opportunistic pathogens:

- the acquaintances and ex colleagues you have not heard of for months or even years that, totally out of the blue, touch base with you again because... they need a favour from you and if you point this out, they are totally cool with it.
- the so called friends you were used to talk to almost on a daily basis that slowly but surely disappear from the radar as soon as they got a significant other in their life and that write to you again after a long silence because... they have a problem and want to talk to you about it. The problem? Their love life, of course.
- the ones in your life that are known for being emotionally unavailable and the kind of people that let you down in difficult situations that all of a sudden are there all the time, because... they could use your help and wisdom while messing around in other people's life.

[Unavailable attachment?
Thanks, no thanks!]

I am sure that we all get those messages, those phone calls, those requests, once in a while. 
We all are exposed to some scenarios where the first reaction, while getting that text message or that LinkedIn invitation from someone that ignored your messages or that just stop to write you decades ago and now is reaching out with a request, is just to think "Oh well, so you are still alive, after all". 
It is a normal, human and understandable reaction. I would even say that it is a healthy first reaction,
How about the second reaction, after that gut feeling?

After the first moment of surprise and mixed feelings, it is actually very easy to decide if one wants to go for it, to offer help, to say yes, to get involved again, in most of the cases. Most of the time it is quite a no-brainer, to recognize if someone is still worth our time, our effort, our empathy. 
That they are still an important part of our life, that they still matter, that they were just away for a while but are still true friends and loved ones.
That they would do the same for us or for someone else, under the right circumstances.

[A very good coach I know is used to tell me:
"You are the boss, always" while meaning that...
One is in control and above all one has to be in control, in life.
And he is right]

But what to do in tricky situations, where it is not clear?
But what if this scenario should happen more often than just once in a while? 
What if one could notice a pattern and a recurring number of such unpleasant e-mails and requests on a regular basis or even daily?

One of the best life motto I follow says "Pay attention to what people do, not to what people say". 
Regularly, constantly, consistently.
Not once in a while, not once in a blue moon, not once every five years.

[Do you want to have true friends in your life every day...
or just once in a blue moon?]

Are those people adding value to your life or just getting value from you?
Are those people investing in you, in your well being, in your growth?
Are those people making time for you?
Are those people there for you, when you need them?

Or are they just... opportunistic pathogens, ready to take advantage of your compromised emotional immune system, because you are just trying too hard to be nice, patient and sympathetic?

What if it would be our fault, that people feel entitled to behave disrespectful and abusive or maybe just opportunistically flaky towards us, since we have been used to reward/accept this behaviour in the past?

People treat us in the way we allow them to treat us. 
People treat us in the way we show them that we consider acceptable to be treated.
People treat us in the way we consider us to be worth to be treated.

[Which kind of phone calls would you like to get?]

Just think about this, the next time that you get an unexpected request from someone that didn't feel the need to talk to you in the last three years and now is writing to you and would love you to do something by tomorrow regarding a matter that it is very urgent and important to them.

Pay attention to what people do, not to what people say.
And decide which kind of behaviour you are willing to reward, from the people you are interacting with, because while acknowledging it... you will get more of it.

This one is for Louis.
Thanks for helping me to remember something I forgot for a very long time.

Tags: Life motto, Being consistent, Relationships, Behaviour, People, Quotes

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