Category: Business, Leadership and coaching
Publication date: May 24, 2022
Extent: 240 pages

Soft Skills for Tough Jobs

Building teams that work, one conversation at a time

Lucy Harrison


Ever come away from a conversation thinking ‘I could have handled that better’?

Soft skills are a dark art, but one you are already using when you are at your best.

With her simple NALED framework, Lucy Harrison has already helped hundreds of leaders be at their best more often. Now you too can choose to hold a different kind of conversation.

Designed and road-tested with busy industry managers, this guide and toolkit will help you improve team engagement, ideas and performance.

LUCY HARRISON is the founder of leadership consultancy the Harrison Network, delivering training and coaching in organizational development with a focus on human-centred leadership.

Foreword by Adrienne Kelbie, CBE


This book has an important message; the challenges we face today are the toughest we’ve ever seen. To create better quality outcomes we have to shift the needle and have better quality conversations. This book is a powerful and practical field guide for exactly that


What i’m really taking away from reading this book is that it is possible to hold a different kind of conversation; one where a higher quality conversations allow relationships to improve and the levels of trust to increase…. Anyone who manages or leads others might benefit greatly from this book, particularly within work settings where soft skills are maybe seen as less important than technical know-how.


In my view the NALED framework for more intentional conversations is a game changer. I have been around the world of people development for many years and seen many models to support better interactions but this one stands out above the rest. Practical, memorable but most importantly proven in action.


This book is all about how teams can work better by improving conversations and using soft skills more effectively. Lots of other authors have tackled this but I like the way that Lucy Harrison shares experiences from both work and non-working life and builds on what people already do rather than making out it’s all something completely new or different. It’s an encouraging approach and a lively read and I’d recommend it.


“… it’s well worth anyone reading this book to improve quality and effectiveness of their work and non-work-related conversations”

HR Director

“If you are someone who likes their self-help books to be chock-full of good, simple exercises, this book won’t disappoint and, as some of the case studies show, at the very least it will give you the confidence to have the difficult conversations even if they don’t always end in success….A useful, potentially even essential companion guide for anyone in the industry charged with managing a team.”

Nuclear Future


‘Learning NALED has fundamentally changed the way I lead. It opened me up and made me question my internal behaviours, and the way I behaved with my team. I have reflected that I am not open; applying it has helped me open up and be more curious, and helped me stop shooting people down.I used to say the right things, do everything I was asked but be physically and emotionally distant. People sensed a lack of engagement from me. I now have better, more personal connection with my team and peers,which is creating deeper trust and being more productive.Rob, IT

I can’t begin to tell you what a difference using NALED has already made in my world. I’ve been using it in my conversations at work and it has thrown up some underlying tensions and issues that I was not yet aware of. On top of that I personally feel more involved with each of those people, so I am motivated to make changes to help them. I’m noticing a difference both in me and with the information level I am receiving.Janet, Operations

These aren’t just soft skills, these are life skills. My daughter called in a panic to say her boyfriend was dealing with a major home issue. I told her to bring him here. Prior to learning about NALED, I would have probably told him to ‘man up’ and gone for a beer. Instead I sat with him and listened. I heard him whilst he cried, I acknowledged his situation and just listened. After an hour and a half you could see his shoulders drop and his face clear. It made a real difference in his life. My wife and daughter were surprised and proud of me too.Phil, Director

I practiced this recently in a meeting with a group of stakeholders who were unhappy about the project and where it’s at. Instead of arguing the points with them as I would have usually done, I held a listening forum. I heard what they had to say. This has resulted in better conversations and them being more bought in to what we are trying to achieve and why.Jared, Major Projects

NALED really resonated with me as a GP of many years. I’ve realised this is what I do in my successful consultations with patients. I have evolved my style over the years as I unconsciously realised that if I don’t approach my patients in this way, the consultation will fail, and I am much more likely to miss both the patient’s agenda and important information to aid diagnosis. Now I have the explicit framework I can be more conscious about it.Gail, GP

I have just started in a new team and have been using the techniques from the course to be more intentional; focusing, listening and careful questions. It is drawing more information out of people, resulting in better preparation for the meetings. I am getting the information I need for my reports in the meeting rather than having to chase people afterwards, so it is making my life easier and making me more respected and effective in role.Christine, Maintenance

The main impact on me has been my awareness of my own reaction to people around me. I’ve learnt not to pre-judge problems as they walk through the door. I’m now aware and conscious that I’ve done that in the past. Learning NALED has has helped me allow people to open up first.Mary, Security

At home I have had a situation with my best friend. He’s always been life and soul of the party – very different to me. But he told me last week that he is suffering from depression. Badly. NALED has given me a way of handling my own deep emotions and a way of holding a caring, compassionate conversation with him. He’s got a long way to go, but he knows I am on his side and have the ability to just shut up and listen. This is life changing stuff.Paul, Major Projects

In my work as an engineer, it is amazing how infrequently different departments talk to each other to resolve joint issues. I end up getting praised for ‘pulling the teams together’ by simply holding NALED conversations. It shouldn’t be that easy to get praise, but when no one else does it then it seems like a big deal.Gary, Engineering

I am trying to use NALED on a regular basis. I am finding that the more I try to empower the team, the better the team responds and the more effective we are delivering for the customer. I am also working my way through my social capital map, trying to ensure those connections are maintained and improved.Mark, Director

Just because we go to work, it doesn’t mean we all switch our emotions off and become machines. If we’re going to truly make a change, we have to remember that a business is a complex mechanism – it’s organic, it relies on people – sometimes even the seemingly irrational. But focussing on people is essential to delivering the needed change. NALED has given me the ‘how’ to do this.Steve, Systems

In progress meetings, instead of telling people what they should be doing, I now ask my team what they are going to do next and Notice, Acknowledge and Listen to their response. It is less work for me and results in better engagement.Michelle, Construction

“A book for everyone who wants to be a great leader, a great colleague or a great friend”
Adrienne Kelbie, CBE


Table of Contents


  1. Introduction
  2. The five strands of NALED – an overview
  3. Notice
  4. Acknowledge
  5. Listen
    5.5 STOP
  6. Explore
  7. Do
  8. Applying NALED in a Nutshell
  9. How do I know it’s making a difference?
  10. Challenges you might face
  11. Stories from the front line

About the author




Paperback / 9781788603485 / May 24, 2022 / £14.99

Ebook / 9781788603508 / May 23, 2022 / £7.99

Paperback and eBook Bundle / £16.99


Lucy Harrison

Lucy Harrison is the founder of leadership consultancy the Harrison Network, delivering training and coaching in organisational development with a focus on human-centred leadership.
Having spent 15 years solving problems for organisations and people, one day she found a problem she couldn’t solve. Her husband, a paramedic, was demonstrating symptoms of PTSD and depression and she couldn’t fix it. Every time she tried to ‘help’, she made things worse.
Over time, Lucy discovered the power of choosing how she showed up to these conversations and then listening fully; the power of soft skills. The results were astonishing.
She has since identified the framework she used and taught it to others, stress-testing it with leaders in tough industry situations, from boardroom to shop floor and from nuclear engineers to emergency services. To date this simple framework has already improved connection, communication and engagement for hundreds of people, and in a recent 5-month leadership course, 70% of participants named it as one of their top three takeaways.
Lucy speaks at local and national conferences, and has recently produced cross-sector research for the Nuclear Institute as well as independently.