On the fab “Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art Of Asking Instead Of Telling”, by Edgar H Schein*

How Does Asking Build Relationships? 

“[…] What is so wrong with telling?  The short answer is a sociological one.  Telling puts the other person down.  It implies that the other person does not already know what I am telling and that the other person ought to know it.


“On the other hand, asking temporarily empowers the other person in the conversation and temporarily makes me vulnerable.  It implies that the other person knows something that I need to or want to know.  It draws the other person into the situation and into the driver’s seat; it enables the other person to help or hurt me and, thereby, opens the door to building a relationship.  […] if part of the goal of the conversation is to improve communication and build a relationship, then telling is more risky than asking.

“[…]  If I want to build a relationship, I have to begin by investing something in it.  Humble Inquiry is investing by spending some of my attention up front.  My question is conveying to the other person, ‘I am prepared to listen to you and am making myself vulnerable to you.'”

Dear C

This is the letter

I should’ve written

To you

The summer we met.

For now I see

What I did clearly

By wronging you

And longing you

Without building

You and us.

And all this

Time you only

Wanted the best:

And all this time

I only

Thought of you

The worst.

And so maybe

It’s now much

Too late to repair

The stairs we

Once could have

Easy climbed together:

Hand in hand

And glad in glad,

And sad; and then

Smiling, and then

Whiling away

The rest of our days.

But at the very

Least know this:

If I did not

Give you that first


And never made that

Call I could’ve said

So tall,

It was never out of


Not in any

Way at all.

It was simply

Because I find

Myself still challenged

Both vertical

And horizontal,

By the

Art of Humble Inquiry.

* This beautiful book by Edgar H Schein will help save my life, amongst a multitude of other positive factors which now begin to infuse my experiences.  And if one day I can start out my relationships with the Art of Humble Inquiry, maybe one day I will have that relationship I have desired so long, and so much.

In the meantime, let me properly learn the lessons that will, hopefully, equip me for a much kinder future.

The next time I meet, face to beautiful face, I will try, strive, struggle and one day grow to asking my dearly beloved – instead of telling my awfully suffered.

Leave a reply:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s