Humble Inquiry Book Summary - Humble Inquiry Book explained in key points
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Humble Inquiry summary

Edgar H. Schein

The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling

4.1 (79 ratings)
15 mins

Brief summary

Humble Inquiry by Edgar H. Schein teaches us the value of asking questions in a humble and respectful way in both our personal and professional lives. It shows us how to communicate effectively, build relationships with others, and improve our problem-solving skills.

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    Humble Inquiry
    Summary of 7 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 7

    If employees can’t freely express what they’re thinking, you can’t build a successful team.

    What comes to mind when you think of a great team? Consider some of your favorite sports teams whose courage and unity on the field resulted in a winning season.

    So what makes a great team? Is it enough to put a bunch of talented people in the same room?

    Well, no. What makes a great team is the relationships between team members.

    Strong communication skills cement these relationships. Each member of the team, from the quarterback to the lineman, is comfortable telling each other anything.

    “Go left!” “I’m open!” “Great pass!” Each player expresses what they need to say without fear; opinions are voiced freely and everyone gets a chance to participate.

    Many leaders in business try hard to emulate the teamwork found in sports teams they admire, but ultimately fail due to communication barriers, often between managers and employees.

    Employees are often simply too afraid to share with their boss any issues they might have, fearing that voicing their needs or criticism will reflect poorly on them. Think about it: would you feel comfortable walking up to your boss and telling him the company strategy was full of holes?

    This lack of communication can have terrible consequences. For example, it was precisely this sort of communication breakdown – the inability of information at the lowest levels of a company to reach those at the top – that led to the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Businesses leaders therefore need to create and nurture an environment where employees feel that they can freely share their thoughts and ideas, no matter what they are.

    This is, of course, easier said than done. The following blinks will show you how.

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    What is Humble Inquiry about?

    Humble Inquiry (2013) sets out the basic principles of the art of asking the right questions in the right way. It examines how your approach to inquiry affects your relationships at the office, your ability to get quality work completed and, ultimately, your success as a leader.

    Humble Inquiry Review

    Humble Inquiry (2013) delves into the power of asking humble questions to build trust, strengthen relationships, and foster effective communication. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers practical strategies that can be immediately applied to enhance interpersonal relationships and achieve better collaboration.
    • By emphasizing the importance of curiosity and genuine interest in others, it helps readers cultivate empathy and become more effective listeners.
    • The book's real-life examples and case studies bring the concepts to life, making it engaging, relatable, and far from boring.

    Who should read Humble Inquiry?

    • Anyone who wants to improve how they communicate at work
    • Anyone who wants to be a great leader
    • Anyone who wants to learn how to ask the right questions

    About the Author

    Edgar H. Schein is the Society of Sloan Fellows Professor of Management Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has received many awards and honors throughout his career. He has also penned a number of books, including Organizational Culture and Leadership and The Corporate Culture Survival Guide.

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    Humble Inquiry FAQs 

    What is the main message of Humble Inquiry?

    The main message of Humble Inquiry is the importance of asking open, genuine questions to build trust and foster meaningful connections.

    How long does it take to read Humble Inquiry?

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

    Is Humble Inquiry a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Humble Inquiry is worth reading as it offers valuable insights on effective communication and relationship building. Highly recommended!

    Who is the author of Humble Inquiry?

    The author of Humble Inquiry is Edgar H. Schein.

    What to read after Humble Inquiry?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Humble Inquiry, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger
    • Helping by Edgar H. Schein
    • Doesn't Hurt to Ask by Trey Gowdy
    • Power Questions by Andrew Sobel & Jerold Panas
    • Give and Take by Adam Grant
    • Change Your Questions, Change Your Life by Marilee Adams
    • Influence by Robert B. Cialdini
    • All You Have to Do Is Ask by Wayne Baker
    • Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg
    • The Diary of a CEO by Steven Bartlett