Human relationships are messy

Human relationships are messy, untidy, complex.

Sometimes I wish that they were easier.

I’ve been married 20 years, have teenage children, employ a team of people, have a large extended family with aging parents, live in a small village community, volunteer for various community projects, manage a number of long term clients and suppliers.

That is a lot of relationships to navigate. Are any of them neat and tidy? No.

And none of them are perfect.

When you are dealing with people and relationships and trust and rapport, it is messy. You can’t predict how people will respond, or know for sure that y will follow x every time, with every person. Humans don’t work like that.

When I recognised the NALED framework (Notice, Acknowledge, Listen, Explore, Do) as a way of approaching conversations and relationships, it was never intended to be a neat process. You don’t do N then A then L then E then D in a nice linear fashion.

As it explains in my book, Soft Skills for Tough Jobs, you start with one strand and introduce another. You weave in the next and circle around these for a while. You may introduce another for a while then take it away again. You might get to D and think you’ve finished, where instead you are right back at the beginning again.

I always say, beware a simple solution to a complex issue. NALED is messy because people and relationships are complex.

Don’t let this put you off, instead let this joyful messiness of humanity inspire you to enjoy it – to embrace that we are not perfect but all continuing to learn each day and trying to be a little bit better.

This week I am mostly trying to enjoy the messiness of teenage parenting relationships during exam season. I’ll get it wrong a lot. Hopefully I get it right a bit too. Wish me luck!

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