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Personal Syntax: Your Starting Point for Success

by Lucy Freedman

Each of us is unique. And all of us are subject to universal experiences in being human. Our personalities, skills, character, talents, are organized into very sophisticated operating patterns or systems that control what we perceive and thus determine what is possible for us and what is not. Often these systems are transparent to us, although they may be quite visible to those around us.

By labeling these patterns as our "personal syntax", we can examine them with some neutrality. In doing so, we gain leverage for learning how to get along with ourselves as well as others. While our personal syntax may well be interesting to us for its own sake, it becomes crucial when we want to reach beyond where we are now. To stretch and grow is to reflect on the many aspects of our personal syntax, in order to make new choices.

Feedback instruments can add to your ability to recognize these personal patterns. They are also valuable in teambuilding, where each member of the team can discover how to mesh with others without judging them for their differences. It is important to remind people that such profiles are simply a lens to look through, rather than the "truth" about us. Using more than one helps keep perspective on what is being reflected.

However we approach learning about our personal syntax, there are two things we can count on:
• each person's personal syntax is different, and
• bridging those differences is essential for mutual understanding and collaboration.
By engaging in the conversation about personal syntax in a neutral, non-blameful way, we can reduce the harmful effects of people taking their own patterns for granted and failing to recognize the value of other people's way of being or doing things.

We believe there is some predictability about personal syntax. There are clearly shared patterns of behavior in people who are effective in their work and personal life. We've encapsulated those patterns in the Syntax for Collaboration. The good news is that anyone and everyone can learn the patterns. When everyone in the organization is exposed to the five skill sets in the Syntax for Collaboration, we significantly increase the likelihood that all those personal syntax's will dovetail in ways that bring together our strengths and direct them toward common goals.

In organizations that do not have a culture that supports bridging differences, power politics and cults of personality tend to be in play continually., The resulting conflict often suppresses the creativity and joy of everyone involved. Our message is clear: bring the neutral, effective methods of the Syntax for Collaboration into your organization, and turn non-productive conflict into dynamic and growthful learning. Stop letting old beliefs about personality differences limit your personal success or that of your business. Vive les differences, and let's keep building on them.
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