Shit Test = Congruency / Frame / Fitness Testing

Back in the day someone (I think it was Ross Jeffries) came up with the idea of (are you full of) shit testing.

They might take the form of a light insult "You're a bit short for me", something more subtle "How tall are you?", maybe getting you to qualify yourself "You realise this event is exclusive don't you?" or perhaps getting compliance from you "Can you hold my bag for a second?". 

Unconsciously or consciously it's all the ways in which people try to break your frame and impose their own, usually to establish that they are higher on the social hierarchy or have more social value than you.

In my opinion the best way to beat these tests is with the least effort possible. Silence, a raised eyebrow with a slight smile, a firm but polite 'No'. If that doesn't work you can move on to classic techniques like agree & amplify.

Now one of the reasons I never liked the term 'shit-test' is because it's not very good at conveying what the tests look like and what their purpose is. Also it sets up a combative frame.

Instead of calling them shit tests' I name them congruency, frame or fitness tests.

The thing to keep in mind is that it's good when someone is testing you because it's an opportunity to show that your frame is strong and that you can back up the way you present yourself.

Also by getting clear on what they are and their purpose you can more easily turn the tables.

To flip the script when speaking to someone, come at them with the mindset of a sceptic who is trying to figure out if they are really what they are trying to portray themselves to be?

Are there any inconsistencies in how they present themselves? Are they putting up a facade? How strong is their frame? Are they worthy of your time and effort?

In my mental model testing is a particular way of qualifying people. Whereas most people seem to think it's just a way to mess around with someone with no underlying goal.

It's not about putting people down. It's about filtering people that are worth your time and effort. People with high self-esteem do it all the time and are not offended by it. So don't be afraid of pushing people away. Experiment and find out where the limits are.


  1. i love the term shit test. when she gives you shit, you gotta now how to handle it!

    1. I was never a fan of it. So I think it's useful to describe the phenomenon with different terms.


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