Can I even use the ladder of inference when I'm triggered?

Yes, you can use the Ladder of Inference when you're triggered, although it may be challenging. When we're emotionally triggered, our cognitive abilities are often diminished, making it more difficult to make accurate judgments and increasing the likelihood of relying on assumptions and mental shortcuts [Seeing What's Not There (The Importance of Missing Data)].

The Ladder of Inference model, developed by Chris Argyris, can help you understand the steps involved in reaching a conclusion or taking action, especially when triggered. It involves four steps: selecting data, interpreting it, developing theories and beliefs, and taking action based on those beliefs [You Make Me Feel... (On Language and Responsibility)].

To use the Ladder of Inference effectively in a triggered state, you can:

  1. Pause and Reflect: Recognize what rung of the ladder you are on and consciously attempt to move down a step or two. This can involve questioning the theories and beliefs driving your action, clarifying the meaning you're imposing upon the data, determining what data you've selected, and checking for other data that might be out there [Racing Up the Ladder of Inference].

  2. Increase Self-Awareness: Develop self-awareness to understand your habitual responses and the mental models you bring to situations. This can help you challenge or test the assumptions you may be making [Seeing What's Not There (The Importance of Missing Data)].

  3. Practice Emotion Regulation: Engage in cognitive reappraisal, which involves changing the way you think about a stimulus to change its affective impact. This can help manage the emotions that arise when triggered [Racing Up the Ladder of Inference].

  4. Slow Down: Cultivate the ability to slow down, both in the moment and regularly, to make time for reflection. This may involve meditation, exercise, and good sleep habits, which can improve attention management and mental effectiveness [Seeing What's Not There (The Importance of Missing Data)].

By becoming more aware of your thinking (reflection), making your reasoning more visible (advocacy), and inquiring into others' reasoning (inquiry), you can improve communication and decision-making, even when triggered [Racing Up the Ladder of Inference]. However, it's important to acknowledge that this is hard work and requires continual development of cognitive and emotional control [Racing Up the Ladder of Inference].