Symbiotic Relationships

 In General

How Things Are Done & Symbiotic Relationships


A few years ago, I owned a private retreat centre on beachfront property on a secluded island bay in Thailand.



Chaoloklum Bay Koh Phangan.


People flew in internationally to work with me.



The village was generally speaking male-dominated.


The culture of the village is traditional Thai and Thai Chinese.


The women run small street food vendor businesses, and the men do the fishing for the island.
I spent time with this man, and he taught me how to make nets with coconut tree leaves.




In some cases, the women own the boats, and the men go out on the water.


Together they generate income from the tourism industry to support their families and communities.

There is no social support system in Thailand; therefore, local entrepreneurship and small business are the only way to generate income.


Out on the water, there is NO competition between the fishermen.
They keep an eye on each other and are very superstitious about their boats and the Spirits of Nature that keep them safe.




On the beach directly outside my business, the fishermen anchored their boats.



By understanding how things are done within the culture, I showed respect to the fishermen fleet captain.

He saw me working hard every day.


We built a lovely relationship where he used my water supply for his boats, and every morning I was given fresh fish from their daily catch.


It was never a spoken arrangement.

It just happened naturally.


2 people with vital resources we both needed (food and water), so an equal exchange was naturally cultivated within that environment.


Never was I spoken down to or treated with disrespect by these men.


Human Beings Being Human.


What I valued most was the connection to the fleet.


They watched out for me, and I watched out for them.

If people interfered with their boats, I called them.


Some early mornings I’d be awake at 2 am and made them coffee on the way out.
While the rest of the island slept, these men worked VERY hard.


In bad weather, all the fishermen sat under the roof of my place and made sure their boats were ok.


In a subtle way, we protected each other in a changing environment, with no tabs or scorekeeping.


Just Being Human.


When I closed the retreat centre and left Thailand,  I donated 5 truckloads of equipment to the local temple school.

In the picture is the school principal Phi Jok on the left, a fellow teacher and local school students.

Phi Jok asked me what I do.  Phi is a term of respect and endearment for someone older than you in Thai.

She is Phi to me, and I am nong (younger) to her.


Rather than say business owner, I said “I’m a teacher”.

She suddenly had a big smile and said, “Oh! Me too. We are the same!”


“Yes, I said. All 3 of us are the same.”


It’s so so important for me to find common ground and maintain pleasant relationships in any local community I have involvement in.


Fast forward to 2018


I moved into a new house in Ontario, Canada.
There was still construction underway in the area.


Again I found myself in a male-dominated environment.
The construction site manager introduced himself and was kind enough to help me with practicalities, which he didn’t have to do.


No Agenda; Just Being Kind.


Yes, it’s true. Some construction and tradesmen are Yogi’s.


One of the first things I did was buy new plants.


I bought the site manager a beautiful pot plant,  one of my favourite flowers and left it on his desk.


Seeing him later in the day, I joked and told him he couldn’t shout at me for any reason now because I’d already bought him flowers.

He and the group of men he was with laughed and went on their way.
I thanked him for looking out for me.


I knew by acknowledging his kindness, he and his entire crew were likely to keep an eye out for me.

As a woman in a male-dominated environment, be kind AND respectful enough to work with the leader of the crew, and his crew will respect you.


I enjoy cultivating WHOLESOME relationships with people.


Be kind.

Be yourself.

Treat people with respect.

Ask for help if you need it, and remember to



It’s Newton’s Third Law of Physics.


for every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction.


Not much different to the Buddhist understanding of Cause and Effect.


What you send out into the world, you WILL get back in some way. ( aka Karma)


Humans are not designed to exist alone.
Regardless of how independent and self-reliant you may be, you STILL have to work with others.
People never forget you if YOU make a little extra effort.


Character and relationship building is not very different to house building.


If you choose the wholesome bricks, your foundation is likely to stay strong.


The result of my interaction with these men every day during their project was that the project finished ahead of time, and the men enjoyed being at work.


Every day one of the workers came to speak with me about what was going on in their lives.

I intentionally made myself available every day for over a year (at no cost) and helped them manage their stress levels at work every day.


The outcome was that the construction company directly benefitted from this, the workers benefitted from it, the families of the workers, and the community at large.


It was self-evident to each of us.


Once the project ended, I contacted the construction company and submitted a proposal to work directly with the company for everyone’s benefit on future projects.

The CEO was very interested.


The proposal was handed over to other management.

A meeting was set up three times to discuss this offer further.

Twice, the meeting was cancelled at the last minute, and the third time was a no-show, no communication.


Even though it was self-evident to everyone that the outcome of my efforts and my offer would be of benefit to everyone, the proposal was squashed by management, regardless of the CEO’s interest.


I am that woman who got up at 4 am and took care of the community garden every day to get the lawn grown for the community to enjoy green space.



Because I understand community wellbeing.



Once the lawn was beautifully grown, people brought their dogs to the lawn to use it and left the outcome of their dogs behind for someone else to pick up.

Even though children play there.


Once it was done,  I had to STRUGGLE to receive payment from the contractor who asked me to do it and agreed on an hourly rate.

No payment without an unpleasant struggle.


Why is that even necessary?


It is now 2021.


I have realised how things are done are how things are done.


It usually comes down to people protecting their own best interests and competing instead of realising the potential of the big picture.


Ultimately in my own case, when I realise there is conflict within management or an organisation, I have learned to walk away for my own wellbeing unless they choose to contact me.


In Ontario, the culture is different.


I have realised that an uphill battle of power struggle and organisational politics is draining.

If the primary decision-maker is not on the same page from the beginning, we are wasting each other’s Lives.


During Covid, I am that woman who had her phone blow up with a bunch of pure sleaze from within Ontario, wasting my time, even though it is obvious what this business is about.


Covid has shown me what is alive and well.


I am now at that point where, when I give my business card out, I have to say……DO NOT send me sleaze.


Why is that even necessary?

Because I’ve seen it now.


Both personally and professionally, I have worked very hard over the years to build my career and my reputation.


My reputation is something I value highly.

To receive a constant stream of sleazy texts and calls annoyed me.


For this reason, unfortunately, my preference is now to work with women.

Thankfully not all men are painted with the same brush.


Show me the same amount of respect I show you, and I’m happy to work with you.

If that is not possible, I cannot accept your appointment.


If you’d like to work with me personally, you are welcome to make your appointment for a massage, private retreat or online mediation.


See you soon.


More info on corporate-related work can be found here.


P.S Keeping in mind, I’ve consistently been asked what I’m even doing here.


I’m making an effort to contribute to society in a sustainable way, providing services needed in Ontario since Canada is short on experienced people.

Who knows, perhaps I’m wrong.


In my mind, based on experience, mutual respect and equality are still a long way away.

Hopefully, the future proves me wrong.


Author, Speaker, Trainer, Mediator  Colleen McClure


Before you go, you might like to read construction workers are Yogi’s

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