Humble Enquiry. Edgar Schein.

Edgar Schein argues that the ability to question – or enquire – without judging is critical to communication success. He defines humble enquiry as “the skill and art of drawing someone out”. He then argues that this style of questioning is the foundation for great leadership and change management. It’s also a critical skill for anyone whose work involves persuading, influencing or handling conflict.  

The key take-away from this book is that humble enquiry is based on a mindset of curiosity and respect. It’s not just about asking questions – it is about building dialogues and creating positive conversations. The purpose of humble enquiry is to understand others. The author examines today’s culture of telling everything about ourselves while finding it difficult to ask questions about others. He shows how this hinders our ability to build meaningful relationships with others. Then, he delves into the fine art of humble inquiries and the significant changes it can have on your relationships.  

Schein’s advice can be applied to almost any professional situation. His model involves creating conversations characterised by deep level listening and intelligent questioning.  

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About the author of this review

Eleanor Shakiba is a specialist in positive psychology training. She works with people in high intellect professions – such as academia, education, project management, research and development and engineering. Her skills in interactive training make Eleanor a highly sought-after facilitator. Aside from her expertise in Positive Psychology, Eleanor also holds qualifications in Social Anthropology, Counselling, Coaching, Adult Education and Neuro Linguistic Programming.