Validating people

I’m not talking about writing a “business plan.” (For startups, a business plan isn’t the best use of time and will change as soon as you start talking with prospective customers).

I’m talking about answering a few key questions that you can go out and test.

You can also test your assumptions by interviewing experts (for example, analysts for the industry, people who have been employed by the industry, consultants, etc.).

There are also some great ways to test digital ideas with landing pages and inexpensive ads.

Most people feel better having a difficult or emotionally charged conversation when they feel heard. Without validation, people feel unheard, so they work extra hard to convince you of the importance of their needs.

We’ve all experienced at some time or another that feeling of desperation to be heard. Our heart rate starts to rise and our ability to hear gets cloudy. It improves our relationships by showing that we care and want our healthy relationships to continue. And surprisingly and more importantly…when we listen and validate, it makes us feel better about ourselves.

Most of the time, they are not the same needs, but both needs are valid. It is an equal playing field and is not about winning or losing. Validation is about finding the piece of truth in another person’s perspective or situation. Validation means that you acknowledge that a person’s emotions, thoughts and behaviors have causes and are therefore understandable. Make it a point to see that the other person’s thoughts, actions or feelings are valid given the current reality and facts. Letting someone share their thoughts and feelings without the need to butt in can teach us a lot about ourselves and our communication patterns.For that reason, lean market validation helps successful teams get just enough information and data to make decisions. I like to adhere to the 80% rule — get just enough (valid) information from customer interviews and other sources of data and then make a decision.In the end, you will never get to 100% certainty, and getting close will eat up an inordinate amount of time.Each person is entitled to want and feel what they do. You each just have different-yet sensible and legitimate experiences and desires. The first thing we can do is practice active listening. Focus on what the other person may be feeling, experiencing. When you learn how to validate one another, you can begin to create safety and trust and develop an even deeper kind of intimacy.This starts with just paying attention to what the other person is saying. Sometimes even a slight look of concern or a smile can let the other person know you are there, you are present. Reflect back on what you heard or observed, making sure you actually understood what the other person is saying. Try to notice what the other person is feeling or thinking. Remember, even if you don’t approve of the other person’s behavior, you can try to see where they’re coming from. These are your assumptions and the sooner you can test them, the less risk you will have when launching your product.


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