are receiving this newsletter as a "conscious communicator"
who has attended a Syntax course or presentation, or you are part
of our extended network family, or you have expressed interest
in Syntax applications to your work. Please read and enjoy, and
feel free to share with your colleagues. For
changes, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 408-395-0952.
a .pdf (printable version) of this newsletter.
- Sign up here
to receive the newsletter automatically.
1. What three questions set up teams for success?
2. Where should you meet people before you lead them anywhere?
3. Instead of why, gather information using _____ or _____.
4. In a learning organization, your culture remembers to turn
blame into _____.
5. Which part of a request is most often omitted?
here for answers)
a Leader in the New Workplace
time that has come presents new and difficult tests of our ability
to evolve as a collaborative society. Concerns about security,
health, and prosperity call for collaboration just when our reptilian
brains want to fight back, flee, or freeze.
time also presents us with remarkable creativity, advances in
communication technology, capacities to find and share information
at amazing speeds, and a growing consciousness of our delicate
interdependence on the planet.
people who work with and in organizations, we want to make our
organizations more successful, more humane, more sustainable.
As citizens, family members, and human beings, we want to live
in peace, freedom, and well-being.
know its up to us to connect the resources and creativity
to solve the problems and reduce the threats. Whether working
as consultant or coach, or employed in an organization, we may
not see how we can affect distressing policies about compensation,
or pollution, or outsourcing. We may not know how to end hunger
or war. We may feel helpless or hopeless at times, losing touch
with our sense of power.
we can do is to enhance our collaborative connections to the people
around us. We can keep ourselves informed and engaged in dialogue
rather than withdrawing. We can involve ourselves with groups
committed to positive change.
our daily lives, we can focus on the basic task of learning to
cooperate in our relationships, workgroups, and communities. Whats
right next to us matters, as well as whats happening around
are being leaders when we
fully and open-mindedly
out what the other persons purpose is, and telling them
into the effects of business decisions on people and the environment,
bringing attention to unintended consequences
authentic and invite others to be authentic by example
accountable for agreements that we make
involved in groups dealing with social justice, sustainability,
ourselves anew to feedback from our colleagues and friends
on the biggest transformation, that of accepting ourselves as
of the above is easy, especially if we feel threatened. These
actions take courage. Even if we dont succeed at this every
single day, we can get ourselves centered, and renew our intentions.
We're really not alone. Speak up in support of others and ask
for support, whether you think you need it or not. It may not
be our traditional image of leadership. That image is ready for
more than just a facelift.
stock of what matters to you and let yourself be inspired. The
time that has come calls on us as leaders to be the changes
we want to see.
the Observation Deck: Which Side Are You On?
you rather negotiate with a vendor or customer who was known for
withholding information, trying to control the conversation, and
wanting to push your price as low as they can; or with someone
who was known for being open and informed, flexible in the conversation,
and believing that a fair price would serve them as well as you
in the long run?
hard to argue for the win-lose approach when its presented
from the other persons point of view. Nonetheless, it still
holds sway in business cultures. In
the world of selling, for example, we win - you lose is the prevailing
way of thinking and speaking. Its the unspoken code in many
businesses and agencies.
if we want to work collaboratively, tough times seem to justify
responding as adversaries. Sidedness - for and against,
right and wrong, us and them - are mental devices that lock us
into positions that we often dont even believe, and that
usually dont serve us.
tendency to fall into zero-sum thinking is not an individual one.
Its part of the water we human fish swim in, reinforced
by language that assumes opposition as the natural state. Even
people who are trained in Neurolinguistics, Win-Win Negotiation,
Transactional Analysis, or other collaborative learning models,
can be seduced by the common-sense thinking of battlefield metaphors.
Conscious attention is required to re-focus an apparent conflict
into an opportunity to collaborate.
we dont think we have to fight, we can observe more of whats
going on. We can let our partners know what we want to accomplish
and find out how we can combine forces to increase both of our
successes. Whats so radical about that?
international conflicts have strengthened the accepted rationale
of having to fight back. We hear justifications of aggressive
and abusive behavior as if it will eventually lead to safety or
security. Global fear and anger can seep into everyday responses
to people around us.
visions of international harmony seeming to come apart, it is
especially important to be aware of our own assumptions and the
resulting communication patterns.
used to know someone whose responses to anything usually started
with no even if she wasnt disagreeing. Perhaps
it seemed to give her room to have her own opinion. This habit
always gave the other person a little push away. The other persons
response could easily reinforce my friends thinking that
she needed to make more space for her own opinion, by saying,
no again. And so on.
patterns that reflect our most habitual beliefs are extremely
successful at reinforcing themselves. It takes willingness to
notice them and periods of time when you really listen to exactly
what you say.
with changing a common verbal pattern. Instead of but
in writing and speech, use and or simply end a sentence
and start the next one without either but or and.
little shift of but to and in your conversations
will at least shake up some of the automatic opposition-speak.
business transactions are fraught with assumptions that we are
fighting one another even when company values say we believe in
I decided to shift investments from one firm to another. The representative
of the firm I was leaving told me that he was unable to liquidate
a particular fund.
new advisor thought that for some reason he was just being difficult,
and suggested that I put my request more forcefully by faxing
him a letter. When I told her that I would do so, and would first
telephone him to say that the intent of the fax was to strengthen
his hand for handling this matter, she gave a little laugh. It
may have sounded odd that I wanted to help him give me the result
I wanted, rather than demanding that he do so.
a collaborative attitude doesnt mean accepting poor service.
It means that I assume that the other person is acting in good faith.
I dont think it would expedite the transaction to attack.
right and showing that the other person is wrong may ease frustration
for some people. For me, confrontation is easier in the assumed
context of collaboration.
I need to wake up to my own adversarial thinking often enough.
times I get stuck and know Im out of balance are marked
by feeling opposition to others, lacking alignment, and not trusting
that they will support my interests. Maybe they wont. My
acting that way makes it more likely, and I will have less enjoyment
in the process.
In our book Smart Work, one of the Nine Guidelines for
the New Workplace is to manage your boundaries. We cant
choose how others behave. We can choose what we do.
can act as if theres enough to go around and
more, even if we cant prove it until we try.
were going to take sides, shall we do so within a traditional
way of thinking, fighting for our share of finite resources, or
can we choose to respond in such a way that we collaborate to
find out how we can generate the resources we need?
it comes to sidedness, which side are you on?
What IS Syntax?
does it have to do with organizational change?
is defined as structure. Most of us are familiar with
syntax in the context of language and computer code. The correct
sequence of words, or words and symbols, is important if you want
to construct something that works and makes sense.
syntax of behavior goes beyond spoken language. Our behavior,
i.e. what we do and how we do it, has a structure that is directly
aligned with our identities, beliefs, and capabilities.
people in organizations undertake to change systems, processes,
and cultures, they need to think about changes in the personal
syntax of the members.
Lets say you want to increase accountability. Accountabiliy
comes down to the ability to make good requests and the ability
to depend on the commitments that are made. If the culture is
one of indirect requests, compliance, and avoidance of feedback,
accountability wont increase.
Good organizational development offers guidance in the form of
information, learning processes, and systems design to help people
enact the syntax that will work in the new context. If it doesnt,
the inertia of the old culture will prevail. Syntax offers a structure
for effectiveness, a crucial element to include in planning for
and News Syntax
Course at San Jose State
Strengthen your leadership skills, refresh your communication
style, network with other successful professionals, and earn credit
toward a Business Management certificate.
Breakthroughs in Collaborative Leadership, led by Lucy Freedman.
Four Monday evenings from October 25 through November 22, 2004.
Sponsored by the Center for Professional Development at SJ State
University. The campus is conveniently located in north San Jose.
Go to www.profdev.sjsu.edu, in Business Management.
FREE FREE FREE Syntax Grads can
get extra copies of the reminder cards to adorn your workspace
or share with others. Email email@example.com with snail mail address,
the number you would like, and for whom.
is the subject of workshops, talks, and a paper by Lucy Freedman.
The next workshop will be held in Mexico City, in English and
Spanish, November 13, 2004. The paper will be published in 2005
in the Transactional Analysis Journal issue on Breakthrough Interventions
Three goal (or outcome) questions get teams aligned.
do we want?
What will that get us?
How will we know when we get there?
Before leading, meet people where they are.
How and What questions are good for gathering
information. Compare the quality of information that results if
you use these questions instead of automatically asking Why?
Aim. The transformation of challenges into effective actions marks
a healthy culture.
People most often forget to specify the time: By when do you need
right, youre syntactite.
Then you are one too.
The information on which the quiz is based can be found in Smart
Work: The Syntax Guide for Mutual Understanding in the Workplace
by Lisa Marshall and Lucy Freedman (Kendall-Hunt, 1995).