The Ladder of inference: How Call recording software can help…
Most people on many occasions are bound to have dealt with the awkward situation resulting from a misunderstanding; where one person will make a comment with no hostility or spite attached to it, but it is received as though there were. This can leave the commenter confused at a response they weren’t expecting, and the recipient annoyed or upset. This is referred to as the ‘Ladder of Inference’. Where the information our brain receives, is picked apart and interpreted. This process can be set out into five steps:
- Information is received.
- Different parts of the information are selected.
- The brain translates it into your own terms.
- Your interpretation is explained to yourself.
- Conclusions are then drawn accordingly
The process happens at an inconceivable speed in our heads, and we are no doubt oblivious that our brain is only selecting a small part of the data that it receives. This leaves us all vulnerable to misinterpretation, mainly because other people are unable to see our thought processes, but only the subsequent actions we take.
Reaching a conclusion
The idea of the ‘ Ladder of inference ’ was suggested around 1970, as a way of describing how our brain moves a piece of data, such as something we observe or a comment made to us, through the mental process to reach a conclusion.
Each person has their own personal beliefs, which influence the way we interpret different stimuli. Personal experiences also influence our interpretations, as if we didn’t look back at our past experiences to make sense of the world, we would no doubt be completely lost. It is human nature to draw a meaning from what other people say and do around us, and we all learn from events throughout our lives.
Improve the way you communicate
In order to avoid climbing the figurative ‘ Ladder of inference ’, we must improve the way we communicate, by drawing on experience in a way that we don’t make assumptions about others, or a way that allows us to look back on our assumptions. There are three ways we could possibly do this:
- Advocacy – We could make sure that other people understand our reasoning, and how we think.
- Inquiry – We could ask other people questions about what they are thinking, and conduct tests on our assumptions.
- Reflection or reflective practice – We could be more aware ourselves of our own reasoning and thinking.
Some pieces of information we analyse may be deep-set beliefs, as it may be apparent that others don’t see what you believe as right, or agree with it at all. Therefore it may be wise to take a second to reflect on your actions before following through with them.
The benefits of call technology
Of course communication over the phone, omitting the important elements of eye contact and body language, leaves us open to misinterpretation. Whilst what has been set out above explains what the processes are, managing the situation and developing ways to improve your understanding of it can be difficult. Where your business relies heavily on phone interaction with colleagues and customers, call recording and logging offer services that allow for analysis and revision of specific situations. Avoiding the ladder of inference will be easier for being proactive about dealing with it through the use of our call recording technology.