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Conversation are for shaping action.

This might be what you envision your client to look like.

He might say something like, “You must be the newbie.”

The truth is that clients are people, just like you.

Clients come in all shapes and forms. And they are all just like you.

So, here’s my definition of a client: just another human being.

This workshop is meant to help you grow.


It really is about you, not clients.

You will learn life skills that you can take anywhere with you and will be valuable beyond Nearsoft.

The intent is to open your horizons by learning to observe how you and the people around you communicate, how they move, what they say, how they say, what they don’t say, …

These skills are well aligned with Nearsoft’s values.

  • commitment
  • leadership
  • long-term relationships
  • smart & gets things done
  • teamwork

In particular, they are well-aligned with Long-Term Relationships and Teamwork.

Be it with a client or a peer or with family, you can only control one person in a conversation: you.

  • what do you feel?
  • what do you fear?
  • what do you love?

Workshop #1

The point of this is to make you uncomfortable.
People don’t like to feel vulnerable. But to really get to your deepest feelings, you must first feel vulnerable.

Let’s break up in teams of three by counting 1, 2, 3 consecutively.

The role of #1 is to ask questions about #2. What do you feel, fear, or love? Then, listen!

The role of #2 is to dig into themselves and answer honestly. The more uncomfortable you feel, the more likely you’re on the right path.

The role of #3 is to observe the other two and what happens between them as the conversation progresses.

Obstacle (of Our Own Making)

Being quiet is the biggest obstacle to a healthy relationship.

Others want to get to know you; and you want to feel like you belong.
This means that you have to do your part, you have to speak up.


You’re always on!

You’re always participating, even when you are not saying anything.

In any relationship, no matter how short or ephemeral, people are always looking to determine the level of competence, sincerity, reliability, and engagement of “the other.”

And in this case, “the other” is you.

If you are quiet and don’t “show up” in a discussion, then the presumption is that you are not competent, not sincere, not reliable, and not engaged. When people don’t know, they feel uncomfortable. And uncomfortable is a negative, not positive feeling. They are going to associate that negative, uncomfortable feeling to you, how they perceive you, and how they remember you,

  • Not very confident
  • Fearful
  • Even ignorant


Be present. Listen intensely. Participate fully.

There’s more to providing good service than simply listening to what the customer says—his or her conditions of satisfaction—and providing whatever he or she asks for.

Sometimes when you do exactly as the customer asks, you’ll find that in the end she is not satisfied anyway.

The important thing during the co-creation stage is listening to the customer’s concerns and helping them design the conditions of satisfaction that can best address those concerns.


Google defines communication as, “the imparting or exchanging of information or news.”

According to this definition, communications is the he lobbing of “data” back and forth between speakers. But that’s wrong.

Communication is about creating a future together.

Conversations for Action

They consist of requests, promises, and declarations,

  • You declare that something’s missing.
  • You declare the conditions under which you would be satisfied.
  • You request that I fulfill your conditions of satisfaction.
  • We figure things out. Only then I can promise to fulfill your (updated) request by a certain time.
  • I do the work.
  • But I am not done, yet!
  • I report (declare) that I have fulfilled your request.
  • You declare yourself satisfied or dissatisfied.

Workshop #2

Again, in team of threes, practice making requests, negotiating, etc.

This time role of #1 is to declare that something is missing.

Describe what you need (what’s missing for you).

This time, #1 and #2 both talk and listen to another to arrive at a mutual understanding of the conditions of satisfaction.

The role of #3 is to observe the other two and what happens between them as the conversation progresses.

Obstacle (Yet Another)

Looking good.

It gets in the way of communications.

We all try to present ourselves like this. Clean, ordered. with plenty of sunshine coming through the windows of our minds. A little casual, but firmly in control.


But, in reality, this is more like it.

Not completely disorganized, but mostly messy. Let others see the mess.

The value you bring to this world shows up when you are courageous enough to let us see the messy you.

When you show us what’s missing, it opens the door to others to help you create a future that’s closer to your dreams.

Maybe you need a new shelf for all the technical stuff you’ve learned. Or you need to throw out some of your hangups.

Obstacle (and Yet Another)

Dumb questions.

Like you and I, others are just as fearful to let their messy self show up. So, you need to help them let it out.

This is where dumb questions come in.

This is where the unthinkable is proposed as a possibility. This is where you say what you are not supposed to say, to whom you are not supposed to say it, and when people don’t expect it.


Dumb questions are welcome.

They count the most because even asking the question crystallizes an issue. The answer benefits all.

Dumb questions let the sunshine into your dark, musky shop. They help you (and your team) get clarity.


  • people, not clients
  • be present
  • speak up
  • co-create the future
  • be open
  • ask dumb questions

Being present, speaking up, being open, and asking “dumb” questions goes to the heart of effective teamwork.

Hanging out together is not teamwork.

Being there for one another is teamwork. Holding one another accountable to their promises is teamwork. Encouraging and helping one another to do their best work is teamwork.


First questions,

  • Who’s in the team already?
  • Who are the Nearsoftians? Who in the US?
  • Who’s the team’s recruiter?
  • Where’s the Kickoff document?
  • Where’s the “101” document?
  • Who is the account manager?
  • Who was the first Nearsoftian in the team (make sure to speak with her)

Team questions,

  • What are you guys working on?
  • Do they use real or fake Agile?
  • What did they ask you?
  • What’s their biggest problem?
  • What have we suggested? What have we done about it?

Client questions,

  • What is your business about?
  • What’s in the future? What do you want to do?