Helping Book Summary - Helping Book explained in key points
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Helping summary

How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help

3.9 (50 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

Helping by Edgar H. Schein is a guidebook for people who want to become effective helpers. The book explains how to build positive helping relationships, how to communicate effectively, & how to maintain healthy boundaries with those who need our help.

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    Helping is intrinsic to human society, and we don’t always recognize it.

    Imagine a soccer team in full flow, from its strikers to its central defenders. To win the match, everything depends on each team member successfully helping the other players. If help isn’t quickly provided, then the striker gets tackled before he can shoot, the attacking midfielder has nobody to pass to and the goalkeeper is left vulnerable. 

    Just like in a game of soccer, helping is intrinsic to many aspects of our lives. In fact, it’s so ingrained in our every-day lives that we tend to forget just how important it is. Just think of your workplace. If you couldn’t rely on getting help from your colleagues when you need it, or they from you, you probably wouldn’t be able to accomplish much. 

    So how do we help each other?

    Let’s look at supervisors and subordinates in a work environment. To achieve an objective at work – to finish a project or improve sales, for instance – the boss and her subordinates are dependent on each other’s help. They enter into a kind of psychological contract. This is most clearly noticeable when one side fails to provide enough help and tensions flare. We’ve all been hollered at when we haven’t pulled our weight, and the group deadline is approaching. 

    The very glue of our society is based on helping each other. Just think of all the different situations in which people provide help. It might be the stranger offering directions to backpackers stumbling blindly around a foreign city, the good friend supplying a word that’s on the tip of your tongue or the suicide hotline operator advising someone in serious distress.

    Our lives are defined by these vital reciprocal relationships, without which there is no family, no work, no games and no society or civilization to speak of.

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    What is Helping about?

    Helping (2009) explores a common phenomenon; when we offer help to other people, we’re often met with resistance, ungratefulness and even resentment. Drawing from a variety of real-life scenarios, author Edgar Schein describes the social and psychological dynamics that underlie this most fundamental human activity and, perhaps more importantly, how we can ensure that our help is both welcome and genuinely useful. 

    Helping Review

    Helping (2009) by Edgar H. Schein is a deeply insightful exploration of the dynamics and impact of helping relationships. Here are three reasons why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers a thought-provoking reflection on the psychology and philosophy behind helping, helping readers develop a deeper understanding of their role in helping others.
    • Schein's real-life examples and case studies bring the concepts to life, making the book relatable and applicable to everyday situations.
    • The book delves into the complexities and ethical considerations of helping, challenging readers to critically examine their assumptions and approaches.

    Best quote from Helping

    In the daily drama of life we play our roles in such a way that our own face and the faces of others are preserved. 

    —Edgar H. Schein
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    Who should read Helping?

    • Educators, therapists and lawyers looking to provide more effective assistance
    • Team-players in the corporate world
    • Anyone looking to be a better helper in their day-to-day lives 

    About the Author

    Edgar H. Schein is a world-renowned expert on organizational culture. He has lectured at the MIT Sloan School of Management and made important contributions in the areas of career development and group process consultation. His landmark work, Organizational Culture and Leadership (1985), is a classic reference book for managers and organizers everywhere.

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    Helping FAQs 

    What is the main message of Helping?

    The main message of Helping is that helping others is a powerful way to connect, learn, and grow.

    How long does it take to read Helping?

    The reading time for Helping varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Helping a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Helping is a valuable read for anyone interested in understanding the dynamics of helping relationships. It provides practical insights and guidance.

    Who is the author of Helping?

    The author of Helping is Edgar H. Schein.

    What to read after Helping?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Helping, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • No Hard Feelings by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy
    • Verbal Judo by George J. Thompson and Jerry B. Jenkins
    • Humble Inquiry by Edgar H. Schein
    • The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey with Rebecca R. Merrill
    • A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger
    • Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney
    • Thank You for Arguing by Jay Heinrichs
    • You're Not Listening by Kate Murphy
    • Atlas of AI by Kate Crawford
    • The Technology Trap by Carl Benedikt Frey