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Don’t Bring It to Work: Breaking the Family Patterns That Limits Success – Sylvia Lafair

30th September 2019
Don't Bring It to Work book cover


Don’t Bring It to Work is a book about how family patterns affect work life and how we can harness them, instead of letting them jeopardize our career. It aims to improve professional relationships and make us better leader, mentor and teammate.


Sylvia Lafair is a consultant on optimizing workplace relationships. Her global consulting company is Creative Energy Options, Inc. She was a family therapist before that. She has also developed a few educational programmes for work life. Besides that, she has written numerous articles for trade publications and national magazines.


Don’t Bring It to Work has 8 chapters and an introduction. The book is divided into 3 parts.

Part One is The Home-Work Connection and contains 3 chapters. This part conveys the importance of viewing all of life from a systems perspective.

Part Two is The Way Out: Observe, Understand, and Transform Your Patterns. There are only 2 chapters in this part. This part contains the description of the 13 most common destructive patterns and the exercises to recognize our own patterns.

Part Three is A New Me, A New You, A New Organization. It has 3 chapters. This part teaches us to be a change agent in work.


How do family patterns affect workplace? More than we ever realize. Family was the place where we first learned how to exist in relation to others, thus lessons we learned about how to relate in family carry over into the workplace system. Every family is both functional and dysfunctional at the same time, so we are bringing the goods and the bads into workplace.

The 13 most common destructive patterns are Super-Achiever, Rebel, Proscratinator, Clown, Persecutor, Victim, Rescuer, Drama Queen or King, Martyr, Pleaser, Avoider, Denier and Splitter. These patterns can be turned into their positive counterparts if we choose to do so.

In the same sequence to their counter patterns, these are Creative Collaborator, Community Builder, Realizer, Humorist, Visionary, Explorer, Mentor, Storyteller, Integrator, Truth Teller, Initiator, Trust Builder and Peacemaker.

Changing behaviour is not easy, but we can change work environments by using dialogue: telling the truth, finding a balanced way to respond, checking our emotions and thinking holistically. Truth telling does not need to be brutal. We should consider the time, place, words and one’s intention when doing it.

High level leadership is about exploring and probing for new perspectives rather than staying locked into old positions. By being aware of our own patterns, we can strive to make the work environments better for everyone.

The exercises in the book would take some time to complete but it will provide insight into our own patterns and action plan can be formulated to change our behaviour.

Overall, I would say the book is very informative and it does provide a system for us to deal with the destructive patterns. Nonetheless, not everyone fits into those destructive patterns. If you are lucky to be one of them, it is still good to know about these patterns and you may be able to take proactive steps to help the coworkers with these patterns.


  1. Nobody’s behavior exists independently of his or her interpersonal relationships.
  2. Individuals don’t produce symptoms on their own; the whole system of the work team plays its part.
  3. Our brains make decisions based on emotional and rational assessments that we’re not aware of; only later, after the decision is actually made, do we explain our decisions and actions to ourselves.
  4. Leadership really begins with an A and includes a personal commitment to authenticity, accountability, accuracy, action, and achievement.
  5. But the lone genius is a myth; instead, it’s group genius that generates breakthrough innovation.


3 out of 3 stars

Interested in Don’t Bring It to Work?

You may get the book from Kinokuniya Malaysia through the link below*.

Get the book here

*Disclosure: The above link is Involve Asia affiliate link. Thus, I may earn a small commission when you purchase the book through this link.

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