Emotional intelligence, whether a person has a lot of it or a little, is often a major factor in whether disputes get resolved in a win/win fashion. This ladder of inference demonstrates how beliefs and fears impinge on emotional intelligence.
Start from the bottom of the ladder.
- Action I want a transfer, the boss hates me
- Beliefs I am not good enough
- Conclusions I am a lousy writer
- Assumptions She hates my report
- Meanings My report is no good
- Data Boss is cranky – gaps in report
- Observation Boss says there are gaps in the report
The above ladder shows an example of how a staff member can come to the conclusion that they need to transfer over what started as something quite small. The ladder works from bottom to the top, showing that we can make an observation, which we then turn into data (the boss is cranky because there were gaps in my report), which causes us to decide that our report is no good. That in turn allows us to jump to the assumption that she hates our report, which then leads us to the conclusion we are a lousy writer. “I’m a lousy writer” very quickly turns into not being good enough and therefore needing to get a transfer.
You can see from the example above that to reach the top, a situation gets filtered through our beliefs and fears. This is very common. Practicing emotional intelligence is the art of removing ourselves from the effects of those filters.
Our limiting beliefs determine our outcomes. In this example, the limiting belief results in us coming to the conclusion we need a transfer, rather than taking the opportunity to learn from our mistake and become a better report writer.
If you used the ladder of inference as an observer, you would have a very different ladder wouldn’t you? So, use this tool to help your family and yourself look from an observers perspective. You will find that every time you can be the observer, the outcomes will not only be less dramatic but will also nurture the people in the process at the same time.
Remember – if we can have a ladder for our experience, it is very possible that whomever we are interacting with has a parallel ladder to show a different set of data and outcomes.