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E for Encourage Testing

We’re full steam into Lesson 4 on STATE My Path. In my experience, participants are eager to put everything together into a formula that will permit them to speak up in tough situations. We’ve thought the issue through, planned and practiced, controlled our emotions and focused on what we really want so we can be persuasive by using our powerful reasoning as we STA!

And we should be excited! But let’s stop there for just a minute, because we don’t want our new level of enthusiasm to get in the way and shut the other person down. Since we know from the get-go that there are different views on the subject, we also need to prepare to meet the other person where they are—maybe a bit caught off guard and apprehensive about our motive or where the conversation might be going.

Enter the “how” skills: talk tentatively and encourage testing. That E isn’t tacked on just to make a clever acronym, it’s there for a reason. Consider the following when you use and teach this powerful skill.

1. Your STA is your best guess, your hypothesis about the way things are. How do you show concern for the feelings and opinions of the other person? Do so by clearly articulating that you’re so interested in dialogue they should speak up especially when they disagree. (e.g., “If you see it differently, I’d love to hear your view.”)

2. If you are the subject matter expert or the problem solver of the issue you’re discussing, be extra careful to use E. The other person might be overwhelmed by your logic and expertise. Give them space by encouraging them to challenge your position. (e.g., “How does this sound/look from your perspective?”)

3. Even when spoken tentatively, a good STA paints a detailed picture of where you’re coming from. We might assume that the other person will just jump in and engage with us, but we need to give them room to formulate their response. E gives us the chance to pause and make it clear that we’re not so much interested in being right as in having a clear picture of the entire situation. (e.g., “If I’m missing something, or haven’t gotten it right, I’m interested in hearing what that is.”)

4. Let’s face it—stopping after STA can seem a little awkward. One way to give both parties a little extra courage is to use the E skill. (e.g., “What’s your view? I’d really like to hear it.”)

Look for ways to teach your participants that it’s our responsibility to get all the meaning into the pool—and that the skill encourage testing helps us do just that.