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Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help
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Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  412 ratings  ·  55 reviews
In this seminal book on helping, corporate culture and organizational development guru Ed Schein analyzes the dynamics of helping relationships, explains why help is often not helpful, and shows what any would-be-helper must do to insure that help is actually provided.Many words are used for helping -- assisting, aiding, advising, coaching, consulting, counseling, supporti ...more
Hardcover, 167 pages
Published February 1st 2009 by Berrett-Koehler Publishers (first published January 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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Morgan Blackledge
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it

I'm a therapist and an educator. Reading this book was brutal in the sense that it made me painfully aware of my weaknesses as a helping professional. It was wonderful for the same reason. It provides a trans-theoretical framework of understanding the dynamics of the helping relationship at the process level.

I will be a more effective helper after reading the book and practicing the simple techniques it recommends. I didn't give it 5 stars however, due to the discursivenes
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Anyone in the helping professions should read this book, that includes doctors, lawyer, consultants, teachers, therapists, etc; also those who are on teams or have to work with other; and anyone who has a relationship with another person should read this. That means you.

The book begins with an outline of the helping relationship and the one-up or one-down dynamic. He then talks about the three helping roles: expert, doctor, and process help. An expert has special knowledge or skill that the cli
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Whether it be taking long term care of the elderly, team building, mentoring it even just helping a spouse pick the right evening dress, this book is absolutely enlightening and essential to providing help that is wanted and dignifying. Schein very clearly defines and frames helping as an essential social process and duly dissects this process and the agents involved to knife-point precision in an extremely concise manner.

The advice dispensed throughout the books aren't always in the form of me
Yuval Yeret
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I recently read Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help by Edgar Schein (actually I listened to it on Audible and then read it again on kindle to better process/digest). I can highly recommend it if you are interested in ways to become a more helpful consultant, manager, person - one who is able to actually help people/organizations rather than just dispense advice/suggestions. I'm not doing a full review of the book here but there are a couple of points I found very interesting in the rel ...more
Rick Austin
Eye opening book about the difficulties in helping or receiving help and in particular the social dysfunctions that can create a less than, ahem, helpful situation. Made me think differently about my approach for helping and in particular, not jumping to a solution too quickly. It is far too easy to fall into the trap of providing a solution to the problem you think you hear when in reality you've not really listened.
Cliff Hazell
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you work in leadership, change or consulting, this book offers excellent insights in how to be a more effective helper.
Paul Bard
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A little masterpiece on the art of reciprocity!

I took so many notes from this and found it tremendously helpful.
Jade Lauron
This is a book of one person's observations, granted, that person is an educated "expert" but it's still just a person. Maybe that's why the field of psychology and sociology is so fuzzy. One could argue that Freud was just one person, but then one could also argue how wrong he was on so many different things. If you read thirty similar books on the same topic, all by different people, then you'd probably have a vast treasure trove of knowledge in your head, but I'm skeptical of saying I've lear ...more
Feb 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While I've often though that business books on teamwork and organization provided information that was useful for personal life, and that some books on family life provided insight into business relationships, the book explicitly covers both dimensions. Helping is universal, and while business-related helping has some differences, there is more in common than not. This book sill sit on my shelf next to The Secrets of Consulting, and Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Lead ...more
Frank Calberg
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Takeaways from reading the book:

Examples of words used for helping:
Advising. Consulting. Recommending. Giving. Supplying.
Teaching. Explaining. Showing. Guiding. Improving.
Facilitating. Steering. Catalyzing.
Coaching. Care giving. Handing.

Examples of roles a helper can take:
1. An expert who provides information.
2. A doctor who diagnoses and prescribes.
3. A process consultant who focuses on building an equitable relationship and clarifies what kind of help is needed.
Pp. 212-213:
Yet when one examines successful change programs one always finds that somewhere in the change process there was a critical period where targets became clients. Throughout an organizational change effort, the helpers roll shifts back and forth constantly between process consultant and expert/doctor. As the project proceeds, the helper hast to function as a process consultant to build a new relationship with each new client. With clients where that relationship has already been built,
Vanessa Princessa
Actual rating: 3,5 stars

I read this book thanks to Blinkist.

The key message in these blinks:

Social dynamics complicate the way we help each other. When we receive help, we suffer a loss of status and self-esteem, while providing help gives us the upper hand in a way that can be counterproductive. To successfully assist others, we should be sensitive to these dynamics. As help-givers, it’s best to inquire with humility about the problems we’re attempting to solve.

Actionable advice:

Keep checking
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Help in the broadest sense is, in fact, one of the most important currencies that flow between members of society because help is one of the main ways of expressing love and other caring emotions that humans express.”

“Check out your own emotions and intentions before offering, giving, or receiving help.”

“Remember that the person requesting your help may feel uncomfortable, so make sure to ask what the client really wants and how you can best help.”

“The point is that no matter what you do or d
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
A short and insightful for everyone wanting to improve their relationships especially those in careers that involve helping others (e.g., managers, coaches, teachers). It talks about three types of helping:
1- expert mode: consultants who help gather information and provide services
2- doctor/professional: an extension to the first type but including diagnosis, prescription, and solution implementation
3- inquiry: asking questions to find what kind of help is needed.

He argues that starting from the
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Depressing at first.

Do you fully understand the situation?

Have you accessed your ignorance?

Is your relationship with the client strong enough for you to give advice?

Does the consultant understand the situation and process abstractly and socially?

Will the consultant accept confrontation?

If you answered no to any of these questions, go back to the first question.

Bringing in a consultant affects the social situation, and can turn into a confrontation between the consultant and the party being consu
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: consulting
A very interesting book that tries to deconstruct the relationship that forms between helper and client when help is request or received. Every one goes through such relationships some smaller, like asking for directions on the street, to larger like hiring a consultant to help with specific things in your company. Without going into details in this review, a special imbalance forms between helper and client when they go into a helping relationship and failing to understand this imbalance impact ...more
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: listened
- The roles we learn - it is a theater, in the beginning we are tought not to lie. But once a kid sees a fat person and tells parents „Oh, that person is very fat.“, parents tell the kid to lie/not say that.
- importance of trust - social trade value, it is always an exchange
- ubalance - has to be managed - doctor and patient need to work on trust
- working in team requires to know each other’s position and also, work on trust (eg. dinner)
- so not overdo, help when asked after a considerati
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I got half way through the book and I just could not finish. The first chapter was very interesting in describing how our lives are a set of helping relationships. However, as you go further into reading the following chapters, it gets rather boring. It feels like the author is stating the obvious over and over again. I think this book might be more interesting for younger readers who are now delving into the world of understanding human relations.
J. J.
Nov 28, 2020 added it
Most helpful because it gives many concrete illustrations of what “process consultation” actually looks, sounds, and feels like. Very convicting and hard-to-dismiss data about what really works and what really doesn’t when it comes to offering someone else advice or “help” in the broadest sense. The less advice is invited, the less it tends to be received. A sobering principle to consider for any of us with a penchant for teaching.
Howard K.
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A book that every parent, service professional and medical staff should integrate and commit in their daily interrelational contributions. I never realized how much we take the concept of helping for granted. If you are sincere in your desire and ability to be helpful, this short, simple book provides the MOST effective tools and strategies to be most helpful.
Sarah Grider
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book was recommended to me by a co-worker who used this book in an MBA class. It wasn't scholarly. More like an organized explanation of the author's observations about being a "helper" and a "client" (terms used by author). It was an interesting and fast read, but not something I would generally pick out on my own.
Kate Loritz
Feb 03, 2020 rated it liked it
This book suggests that "help" is a currency; it is exchanged all of the time, and we owe it to our relationships to learn how best to use it. There are relatable examples, all of which demonstrate what we as leaders all strive to be: empathetic, supportive, and inspiring. I do recommend this book, it is a great supplement to change management or leadership development books.
Paula Sarah
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I don’t really have anything to say about this. It wasn’t bad, and it wasn’t good. Nothing life-changing. Semi-interesting. I’m sure this is because it just wasn’t my cup of tea and I felt like it didn’t add anything super new to the conversation for me.
If you’re super interested in the subject, I can imagine you liking this. I just personally didn’t feel blown away.
Antony Mayfield
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent - aptly, a very helpful book. Short too, which is also helpful. Seriously applicable and practical advice for anyone but especially for those who make their living helping clients, patients or colleagues. So, most of us, really...
Devon Fritz
Jul 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-help, coaching
I enjoyed the 'social economics' theory in the earlier part of the book but found the latter sections to be a bit repetitive. The book was interesting, but aside from a couple of ideas I am not sure what I would do differently having read it.
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of crossover with Humble Inquiry, but a worthwhile read for anyone seeking to give and receive help effectively.
Rand Hall
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It wasn't until the end that I appreciated the excruciating level of detail schein plumbed. The helping dynamic is complex.
Simon Hohenadl
Aug 23, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-on
I found this book unstructured, full of commonplaces and not engaging to read. Depends on personal preference, I am sure.
LaDonna Harris
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: me-2019
I read this as a Blinkist. His advice makes sense and is something I try to do daily.
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant- and completely important in every relationship known to man -and women...
Essential reading.
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Edgar Schein is the Society of Sloan Fellows Professor of Management Emeritus and a Professor Emeritus at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Schein investigates organizational culture, process consultation, research process, career dynamics, and organization learning and change. In Career Anchors, third edition (Wiley, 2006), he shows how individuals can diagnose their own career needs and how man

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18 likes · 10 comments
“Help in the broadest sense is, in fact, one of the most important currencies that flow between members of society because help is one of the main ways of expressing love and other caring emotions that humans express.” 1 likes
“Though helping is a common social process, it is not the only social process. Our relationships with others have many other functions. In order to offer, give, and receive help effectively, we also need the ability to shift from whatever else we were doing and adopt a readiness to help or be helped. It is part of our social training to be prepared to help and to offer help when the ongoing situation suddenly makes helping an imperative or at least an option. But this impulse to help or seek help can run counter to what else is going on.” 0 likes
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