Book Review: Helping – How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help

Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help by Edgar Schein

An ultimate guide to anyone who is involved in a helping relationship, which is … well … everyone who has ever had contact with anyone else.

Throughout this book you discover that helping and the helper-client balance is at the basis of every relationship.

To me reading this book is like walking through the highlights of Schein’s career. It looks as if he weaved every insight of his career into this well structured book.

As an organizational change practitioner I find the following insights particularly ‘help’ful:

  • Am I being pulled down as a helper or are we building the client up?
  • Humble inquiry
  • Premature fixing of a helping request just because it looks familiar to a previous experience;
  • Don’t be seduced by the content of the problem at the expense of the relationship
  • Role ambiguity: am I a process consultant, an expert or a doctor?
  • Pure inquiry: the ability to access your ignorance and the vulnerability to share it.

For sure I will be referring to this book in the future and I will be reading it a second time pretty soon.

One last thing: compared to the book ‘The Speed of Trust’ of Covey (which – in my humble opinion is full of advice that is TBU – True But Useless) I find that this book contains lots of tips and examples that I CAN use in a day to day situation.