Are You A Universal Communicator?
A central goal of Syntax for Change is that we practice to be “universal communicators.” What does this mean, and why is it the key to expanding your influence and simplifying your life?
You have long since realized intellectually that each of us thinks and experiences life in our own unique way. Being a universal communicator means you can bridge those differences. No, it doesn’t mean you have to like everybody or agree with them. We don’t always get to pick and choose the people with whom we need to get things done. The first step to influence is meeting people where they are. This takes perceptiveness and flexibility!
We have to pay attention if we want to stay open to learning and open to other people’s experiences. This is largely because our confirmation biases and automatic responses determine more of our actions than most of us are willing to admit.
How Bad Does It Have to Be?
There’s a certain level of communication breakdown that we tolerate: a few misunderstandings, differing interpretations, requests not fulfilled, bruised egos, sometimes hurt feelings. When it’s familiar, we conclude with our usual judgments and our habitual strategies for taking it in stride.
This approach has a cost. There’s more slippage than there needs to be. People reinforce their feelings of someone or everyone not being seen as OK. Longtime self-criticisms and hopelessness about others feed on chronic disconnects.
The bright side of all this is that we can both opportunistically and systematically upgrade our ability to be universal communicators; hearing, seeing, and validating others as well as ourselves. There is room for multiple points of view when we are not reacting out of fear or habit.
Activating Conscious Competence
Any one of us can create the space for people to feel safe and perhaps to open their minds as well. Of course, it starts with our own habit change, not that of our friends and colleagues!
When you follow the Syntax for Change pattern, you know what your outcomes and intentions are, and can articulate them into requests and agreements.
You can link with a wide variety of people and points of view by matching behavior and language before you try to lead toward a mutually satisfactory outcome.
In the process, you gather information and validate perceptions by using what and how questions, reflecting back what you take in, and using more than one perceptual system (seeing, hearing, feeling) to communicate.
You notice the responses you get, and adjust accordingly.
It’s the Blind Spots that Get You!
Wouldn’t it be nice if we all behaved this way habitually? When explicitly outlined, it does not seem difficult at all. It’s the blind spots that get you! When we leave out one of the components listed above, or make assumptions that “everyone knows” something, or fall into resistance or defensiveness, it’s good to have a reminder to trigger awareness and realignment.
This is the point of learning and reinforcing the skills comprising the Syntax for Change model. Reading about it may be helpful, practicing, with others, is a lot more so. Once people go through our basic Syntax training, we encourage them to stay engaged through our online community and learning groups, because once we have learned the patterns, we need to reawaken often and correct for the habits that have crept in. Gradually, our newer habits really do take hold.
Fortunately, Syntax isn’t alone. Other models contribute to our understanding of personality types, communication methods, mindfulness, and so on. We focus on behavior and simple, straightforward concepts and practices, which support the ability to make use of multiple approaches.
Being a universal communicator is a worthy goal. Why be one of the bulls in the china shop who keep knocking things over? Instead be one of the graceful, gracious matadors who smoothly move mayhem out of the way and earn appreciation for your ability to foster successful collaboration. We welcome you to our community of learners.
How to strengthen your personal syntax and be a universal communicator:
The Syntax for Change homepage is a hub for engagement, for both leaders and for consultants and coaches who work with leaders and teams.
Visit us at syntaxforchange.com/community and sign up for resources on change as well as the occasional Syntax Messenger, which serves as a reminder.
We also have a Syntax for Change page on Facebook, and another one you can join when you sign up for the Syntax for Change Community, where we post weekly questions and interesting articles, invite discourse, and link like-minded folks together. If you are among those who have taken a Syntax course, let us know, and we will invite you to the private Learning Group for grads.
Join us in Austin, TX, September 25-26 for our next live program.
Request Syntax coaching on a specific situation or a skill that you want to develop.