May 6, 2005
 LeadU NEWS
Vol. 2, No. 18

Published Weekly on Fridays
By Leadership University

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A Note from the Founder – Mike R. Jay, Master
Business Coach
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Leadership: Syntax & Semantics

Between developmental stratums that exist, whether
you label them in color, by values, cognition,
whatever you like--gumballs, if you will, there
exist differences in syntax (the way things are
said, or done) and semantics--meaning making—about
what is said and done.

If you take the syntax:

“We assume that everyone else in the world is like us.”

It has an espoused meaning, which comes from the
person's beliefs, who puts it (syntax) together,
as an "intent" (action theory) to "communicate"
meaning (semantics).

Since meaning is largely constructed in the
perceiver of the syntax, whether it be words,
non-verbals, tone, grammar, etc. The ability to
understand what was intended is almost never
understood from the espoused theory of the person
intending meaning.

In other words, each of us takes the syntax and
forms a meaning out of it (semantic) according to
our own construction of how the world works
(codes, beliefs, experience, etc.).

Ok, that's the first part, nothing really new
there, but I think/feel people forget this during
the construction of meaning making.

---Now, here's the hard one and I don't fully
understand it myself, but I'm going to try to form
a syntax:

Since the espoused theory guiding action theory is
a "compressed" program--which means that what
leads to the final output of the program is drawn
from data in one's experience, construction of
meaning, beliefs, values, codes, etc.--the
perceiver can't decode the message (semantics)
EXCEPT through their own (syntax and semantics)
compressed understanding of their experience,
construction of meaning, beliefs, values, etc.

In other words, you will get misinterpretation of
sophisticated meaning using what appears to be
simple syntax (syntax which you created because of
your semantical formation of a “compressed”
program of understanding, where all the detail is
implicit rather than explicit, largely because you
already know it and it’s not necessary to repeat
it because you know it—OR IS IT?) because the
syntax represents the semantics of the
espousing/acting system.

I know it’s too confusing, right?

Part of the reason it’s so confusing is that
instead of compressing the syntax from my
semantics, I’m modeling my own internal dialogue
to you so you get the “context” of my syntax!

Few of us can understand very sophisticated
meaning if we ourselves are not "sophisticated" in
those particular areas that may have led to the
compression of the program (where meaning itself
actually creates a compressed understanding of the
structure of reality).

This is why we use metaphors and analogies, to
communicate a sophisticated semantic in a simple
syntax. For instance if I say, “priming the pump”;
most people will know what I’m referring to when I
say, it helps to prime the pump if you want to get
water flowing, just like it helps to prime the
pump if you want people to understand what you
mean? In each of those cases, the metaphor helps
us to understand (somewhat) what a compression of
reality from one set of semantics, is “reused” to
provide syntax for another.

Now, the real key is what I’ll write about next
week and that topic is Leadership & The Spiral, or
how does a leader begin to notice the differing
levels of sophistication and gauge their use of
syntax and semantics accordingly.

From the desk of Mike R. Jay, Master Business Coach
Founder, http://www.leadershipuniversity.com

P.S.  Please visit my blog at
http://generati.typepad.com/mrj/ to comment on
this and other articles about leadership.

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