Book of the Week #4


I’ve started to try to actively learn from books rather than just read them. I’m posting my book summaries online to keep myself accountable to my “book a week” goal and hopefully to encourage others to read more too.

This Week’s Book Title [Week 33] : Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling

by Edgar H Schein



Paperback. 110 pages.

First impressions

The book is thin and light with wide margins so it’s quite quick and easy to read. At the each chapter, and sometimes at the end of a section, there is a summary of what was just covered. At the end of each chapter is a list of questions that you should ask yourself in relation to the topic of that chapter (though I found myself thinking about those as I was reading through the chapters anyway).


I practically read the whole thing on a day off work. Because I stopped to take notes very often I think it took about 10 hours to get through the book.

As I read the book, it made so much sense that it’s a mystery why I don’t practice Humble Inquiry already.

What is Humble Inquiry?

Quoted from the book: “Humble Inquiry is the fine art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not already know the answer, of building a relationship based on curiosity and interest in the other person.”

What do most of us (me included) do instead?

  • Tell. Tell someone what they should do rather than asking them what they think they should do. Tell them “I’d be mad if he said that to me” rather than “How did that make you feel?” etc.
  • Not bother to build relationships beyond what’s necessary for the role.
  • Jump straight to judgement & action rather than slow down and ask questions.
  • Not review my actions afterwards to see what I could have learned from the situation.

Like I said…all these things are common sense, but I absolutely recommend getting a reminder of how valuable Humble Inquiry is through reading this book yourself.

Next week’s book

In case you want to read along with me, here’s what I’m planning to read during the upcoming week: Weapons of Math Destruction (Data Science).

For anyone who’s wondering, yes…I’m still waiting on Ready Player One (Science Fiction) or The Miracle Morning (Personal Development) from the Library, Last time I reserved a book it came through quite quickly. I suppose these are really popular at the moment so have to go through a few other people first.

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