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Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Tellingby Edgar H. Schein
Synopses & Reviews
We live, says Ed Schein, in a culture of Doing and Telling. In our interactions with other people, particularly when we are the boss, we tell them what we think they need to know or should do instead of building relationships with them. But telling makes people feel inferior and reduces communication and organizational effectiveness suffers.
In todays world, a free flow of information is crucial. Anybody anywhere could have that vital idea or insight that could mean the difference between success?and disaster. Or worse—Humble Inquiry was inspired by Scheins twenty years of work on safety in high-hazard industries and the health-care system, where honest communication can literally mean the difference between life and death.
Schein defines Humble Inquiry as “the fine art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not know the answer, of building a relationship based on curiosity and interest in the other person.” In other words, do ask, dont tell. Humble Inquiry builds the kinds of positive, trusting, balanced relationships that encourage honest and open interactions in both our professional and personal lives.
In this seminal work, Schein explores the various types of humility, contrasts Humble Inquiry with other kinds of inquiry, shows the benefits Humble Inquiry offers in many different settings, and offers advice on overcoming the cultural, organizational, and psychological barriers that keep us from practicing it. This is a major new contribution to how we see human dynamics and relationships, presented in a compact, personal, and eminently practical way.
The Key to Effective Communication
Communication is essential in a healthy organization. But all too often when we interact with people—especially those who report to us—we simply tell them what we think they need to know. This shuts them down. To generate bold new ideas, to avoid disastrous mistakes, to develop agility and flexibility, we need to practice Humble Inquiry.
Ed Schein defines Humble Inquiry as “the fine art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not know the answer, of building a relationship based on curiosity and interest in the other person.” In this seminal work, Schein contrasts Humble Inquiry with other kinds of inquiry, shows the benefits Humble Inquiry provides in many different settings, and offers advice on overcoming the cultural, organizational, and psychological barriers that keep us from practicing it.
About the Author
Edgar Schein lives in Palo Alto, CA.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Creating Positive Relationships and Effective Organizations
Chapter 1 Humble Inquiry
Chapter 2 Humble Inquiry in Practice—Case Examples
Chapter 3 Differentiating Humble Inquiry from other Kinds of Inquiry
Chapter 4 The Culture of DO and TELL
Chapter 5 Status, Rank and Role Boundaries as Inhibitors
Chapter 6 Forces Inside Us as Inhibitors
Chapter 7 The Future of Humble Inquiry
Diagram 1 The Four Parts of the Self
Diagram 2 The O.R.J.I. Cycle
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