We’re Meaning Making Machines

This post tells the rest of the story from my July 2014 newsletter to illustrate how the Ladder of Inference is at play in our lives and work. To learn more about this model, click here.

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.

However, Bob isn’t aware that a handful of employees who have been with the company over 5 years and have demonstrated high revenue generation percentages for 4 quarters in a row and have consistently high evaluations with customers are eligible to start buying into the company as new owners. The “no bonus” stands for “new owners bonus:. Bob learns this all when Sally asks him to come into her office a few days later.  Needless to say, he is surprised and has a hard time re-orienting himself to this news, because he has been actively updating his LinkedIn profile and thinking seriously about where he would want to be next.  He is totally caught off guard, because he was so committed to believing the story he had made up was the truth. It was difficult for him to imagine anything different could be going on.

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