How Climbing the Ladder of Conclusions Undermines Growth


During my training as a Conversational Intelligence (CIQ) Coach, I learned about the Ladder of Conclusions. I was very fortunate to study under the creator of the CIQ concept and The CreatingWe® Institute, directly, Judith E. Glaser.

Some conclusions become almost automatic fallback thoughts that hinder our development. Here are a few I hear from clients:

“I can’t follow up with that contact, because I already have too much work to do. What if they want to give me more work?”

“I must have done something wrong. I have not heard from that contact since they said they wanted to engage us.”

“I can’t reach out to that person because they did not respond to my e-mail of a few months ago. They clearly don’t like me, don’t want to talk to me, (fill in the blank).”

“I know my meeting with my team will not go well.”

During coaching, I discuss climbing up the ladder of conclusions and how to prepare your mindset to optimize conversations and the impact you make. Being mindful of your thoughts, reactions, and beliefs is the key to taking control of your impact on other people and on yourself.

If you look at the illustration of the ladder, you will see how quickly you can climb it to make an assumption or come to a conclusion. The ascent starts with bio-reactions and feelings that you may not be aware of. If you find yourself at a conclusion such as, “I know this conversation will not go well,” stop and retrace your steps. How did you come to that conclusion?: Did it start with an upset stomach? Were you feeling uneasy or anxious? By practicing self-awareness, you can impact those reactions and come to a different conclusion. “This conversation with my team may be difficult, but if I am open to their input, we could make some progress.”

Practice your awareness as you climb the Ladder of Conclusions (©Benchmark Communications, Inc. and The CreatingWE® Institute)

  • Step One: Bio-Reactions happen automatically and can be present without your awareness.
  • Step Two: Feelings. Pause and take stock. Your teeth are clenched, why? What are you feeling?
  • Step Three: Thoughts. After you named the feeling, what thoughts were automatic? Delve a little deeper before you reach Step Four. Can you redirect your thoughts? Can you replace a negative thought with a more positive one or something more cautionary like, “wait and see”?
  • Step Four: Beliefs. Without pausing to be more aware, your belief can follow quickly up the ladder to a conclusion that holds you back from succeeding. Can you use your thoughts to change your belief?
  • Step Five: Conclusions. Think about which trail you followed. The initial trail set in motion by a negative bio-reaction? Or were you able to change course to a more positive, less anxiety-inducing conclusion?

Self-management and controlling a climb up the Ladder of Conclusions takes practice. Take a look at the tasks, meetings, or people in your day. How can you impact the assumptions you draw that keep success at bay?

Contact Mary Balistreri at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com for more information.

Contact Mary Balistreri at mbtmorebusinesstodayllc@gmail.com for more information about coaching and professional development services.

Published by Mary Balistreri

Mary Balistreri offers a variety of coaching and professional development services to individuals and organizations focused on harnessing strengths to develop more business. Mary’s approach is goal driven, focusing on measurable results and developing actionable plans to move past obstacles that hold individuals, teams, and organizations back from executing on the plan. Mary offers expertise in business development, team building, and leadership development coupled with strategies to improve conversational and emotional intelligence to support clients moving toward their goals and aspirations.

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