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Lesson One: Profiling Skills And the Talking Stick

Threeing involves three people taking turns in three different roles. In this lesson you will profile your skills in relation to these three roles. You will also learn how to use the Talking Stick to take turns playing these roles.


  • Read Introduction and Chapter One
  • Take Performance Profile (See Additional Resources on Earthscore site)


  • Everyone introduces themselves in terms of the Profile


        Teach Tricolor Talking Stick


  • Performance Profile
  • Comfortable private room, big enough to divide everybody into small groups of three and four, ideally around a small round table.
  • Tricolor Talking Sticks (one per three participants) See Tricolor Talking Sticks in the Additional Resources section of the Web site.


  • Welcome all. Review structure of course, noting any changes. Participants can follow course description in the book and note modifications.
  • Each person introduces self to group referencing the Performance Profile, maximum 30 seconds per person.
  • Discuss profiles briefly. Ask skeptical participants to wait until they have experience with the Tricolor Talking Stick before discussing the skill profiles.

                                                                                15 minutes

  • Configuring Teams. Separate the group into three smaller groups of equal size according to skill sets. You may have to negotiate with someone who has a strong secondary skill to take that as their lead skill. Assure everyone that they will get the opportunity to work in all three skill sets.

By Choice

Ask each participant in the first skill set group to count off. Then, following their numbered sequence, ask each participant to select one person in second set. Ask the two to select one in third set. Set each group at separate table and give them all instructions in the Talking Stick.

By Assignment

Ask participants in each skill set group to count off. Then match the numbers together in each group. Set each new group at separate table and give all instructions in the Talking Stick. 
10 minutes

  • Instructions. Include both yellow, red and blue roles and the adversarial back and forth. Note that normally two combine against one and the Tricolor Talking Stick avoids that. Include protocols for Inquiry and for advocacy. Remind participants, when you don't have the stick, listen.

5 Minutes

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Tricolor Talking Stick Exercise # 1

Red takes the stick and, based on her reading of chapter one, explains in her own words what the problem is that is solved by the three Person Solution.

Yellow takes the stick and explains, in her own words, the solution.

Blue takes the stick and explains, in her own words, how the solution applies to the problem.

If anyone disagrees with any explanation they initiate the advocacy protocols.

15 minutes

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Taking Stick Exercise # 2

Review protocols. Change roles. Person in yellow moves to red role. Person in red role moves to Blue role. Person in blue role moves to Yellow Role.

For the sake of argument, Yellow offers a hypothetical ‘solution’ to the relational dilemma that does not involve a third party.

Red reacts to the proposed solution.

Blue attempts to mediate.

Initiated by Yellow, all three deliberately go into the advocacy protocols to sustain the disagreement. After arguing back and forth three times, Yellow goes back into the first skill set position and restates his solution. Red responds and Blue mediates. They do not go to the advocacy roles.

NB: It is important the group finish in the yellow-red-blue complimentary roles and not the advocacy roles. Even if they disagree, they can agree to disagree and postpone the argument. Point out that if disagreement persisted and they could not agree to disagree, nor could a fourth party arbitrator work things out see below decision making) then they could opt out of that trio.

20 minutes

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Talking Stick Exercise # 3

Review protocols. Change roles. Person in yellow moves to red role. Person in red role moves to Blue role. Person in blue role moves to Yellow Role.

Yellow demonstrate how the game of paper-rock-scissors is like the Talking Stick.

Red comments on the demonstration, stressing how paper-rock-scissors is different from the Talking Stick.

Blue mediates between yellow and red, showing both how paper-rock-scissors and the Talking Stick are the same and how they are different.

10 minutes

Discussion. As a group, Process the exercises. Let each participants discuss how the skills sets shown in the performance profile overlapped with the Talking Stick exercises.

15 minutes

End of lesson one

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Read King Lear. Write a Tricolor Talking Stick trialogue in which the three daughters of Lear resolve their difficulties without causing their father to suffer.

Read Julius Caesar. Write a Tricolor Talking Stick trialogue in which Cassius, Brutus and Mark Anthony resolve their differences before killing Caesar.

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Lessons in Threeing: Lesson 1

Talking Stick Exercise #1

Talking Stick Exercise #2

Talking Stick Exercise #3





















    © 2006
    Paul Ryan
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