Human beings are meaning making machines. Our brains are wired to make meaning out of everything. We can't help it. It's part of our neurological patterning. But what happens if the meaning we make out of an interaction or an experience isn't correct? Have you ever created an assumption about a person or situation when you didn't have all the information? Here's a story to illustrate this phenomenon.
A supervisee (Bob) walks into Sally's (his boss) office when Sally isn't there to put a report on her desk. As he's placing the report on the desk he sees a sticky note that says "Bob, no bonus". Bob, in a nano second, gets mad. He assumes he's not getting a bonus, because he thinks Sally doesn't think he does good work. He, then, goes to ask his colleagues if they've gotten their bonuses. He finds out another colleague, whom he thinks poorly of, has gotten his bonus. Bob is even more upset now and decides to update his resume because he concludes it's time to start looking for another job since Sally doesn't support him, but Bob isn't aware that Sally's note to herself...
We all draw inferences about interactions, jump to conclusions and take action without enough data. Those who know the Ladder of Inference call this "going up your ladder". Effective leaders of people and organizations check assumptions and scan for other data to support or dispel an assumption, conclusion or belief so that they can make decisions grounded in reality. Those who know the Ladder of Inference call this "staying low on your ladder".
We have a choice about the inferences we draw or the context from which we make meaning. Our inferences can be empowering or dis-empowering. Do you know someone who seems to be successful at whatever he/she does? They produce the results they want without a lot of suffering and complexity. We all know people like this in our lives. This person also makes meaning out of interactions/situations, but the context they're thinking from generates possibility, not scarcity.
Why do some of us assume the worst or see the glass half empty and some of us see the glass half full? There is no simple answer to this question. However, if you want to be more successful, positive and generative in your life, then read this article and watch these two videos as they explain how the Ladder of Inference works.
|The Ladder of Inference Creates Bad Judgment|
This is one of the top 3 frameworks every leader should integrate if he/she wants to be even more successful leading people and projects. This framework is a bed-rock of my life and work. I use it all the time. If you want help implementing the Ladder of Inference in your life, give us a call. We'd be delighted to help you use this tool to take your leadership to the next level.
I hope you're having a great summer.