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Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  322 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Helping is a fundamental human activity, but it can also be a frustrating one. All too often our sincere offers of help are resented, resisted, or refused—and we often react the same way when people try to help us. In this seminal book on the topic—named one of the top five leadership books of 2009 by strategy+business magazine—Edgar Schein analyzes the social and psycholo ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published February 14th 2011 by Berrett-Koehler Publishers (first published January 1st 2009)
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3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  322 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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Morgan Blackledge
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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 trains-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 discursivene
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
If you work in leadership, change or consulting, this book offers excellent insights in how to be a more effective helper.
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
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  ·  review of another edition
Reading the book, I learned, for example, that there are many forms of help and many words for helping. Some examples: Advising, care giving, catalyzing, coaching, consulting, explaining, facilitating, giving, guiding, handing, improving, recommending, showing, steering, supplying, teaching. I also learned that the helper can choose to be 1. an expert resource who provides information, 2. a doctor who diagnoses and prescribes, and/or 3. a process consultant who focuses on building an equitable r ...more
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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
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
Howard K.
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Antony Mayfield
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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...
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.
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.
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.
Oct 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Looks at different types of helping relationships to understand how initial contact between helper and client evolves to something that produces help. Building this, like any relationship, means being sensitive to social economics and cultural rules of face. Helping situations are unbalanced: if you ask for help, you are putting yourself one down. There are many traps to avoid. For the client: mistrust, relief, looking for attention, defensiveness, and unrealistic expectations. For the helper: b ...more
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Helping is a complex process in which timing and sequence means everything. Overhelping and over encouragement can lead to unproductive outcomes. Until someone solicits feedback it is unlikely that they recognize the problem enough to be perceptive to any change. Some of my favorite takeaways.

-Help takes on the form of process consultant (pure inquiry), doctor (diagnose and prescribe) and expert (provide specific knowledge or service).
-Always unravel your ignorance by inquiring about the issue
Oct 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I freely admit that Schein is a bit wonky and academic, but he's also one of the most important thinkers on social dynamics living. If you prefer popular authors like Dan Pink and Malcolm Gladwell (I love them both), this rather scholarly and occasionally omphaloskeptic book might not be for you. On the other hand, if you ever find yourself if the position of trying to help other people in any way, and if you're interested in a research-based view on the dynamics of why that sometimes goes reall ...more
Fred Leland
May 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A pleasant surprise

I picked this book up because even though I have helped many people my methods of doing so did not always get the results I was looking for. This book helped me identify ideas on how to improve my methods in my efforts to help people get better at what they do in my organization. I will be applying the principles laid out in this book from this point forward because they take into account the paradoxes involved in how people Tick and react to helping and being helped!
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a well-written book, like a cross between sociology, psychology and anthropology, written for the layperson. It was very helpful to me for both my jobs, where I am constantly in the position of both needing help and offering help, as well as being a leader. Especially helpful was chapter 7, about how teams should be working together in interdependence. I found a lot of good ideas in this book, marked it up, and expect I will refer back to it regularly.
Heiki Eesmaa
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am not sure why a book that has such exciting insights on the helping relationship feels like such a drag about 80% of the way. Perhaps its the actualization of the author's principles, building a relationship -- here with the reader -- before dealing with substance.

For me the extremely generic treatment of 'helping' -- basically every interaction -- was very 'helpful'. But the book itself was somewhat annoying. I'd only read the final chapter and skim the rest, if at all.
Sep 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Websterdavid3 by: Dori Digenti
put my opinions in the description.ooops

highly recommended for anyone who thinks they need to help others to be a complete human being.

i link it with Norman MacLean's wondrous book "A River Runs Through" which has profound Scottish meditations on how the helper and helpee rarely can meet at the right point of time and place to actually be mutually beneficial.
Jim Tucker
This is a quick read of Schein's classic material on organizational leadership. I found it relatively passé. Of particular value, however, are chapters two and seven, which contain focused important elements of social learning applied to leadership. Of particular value are the references to teamwork and reciprocal social interaction.
Jan 04, 2014 is currently reading it
As it turns out, helping is waaay more complicated than it seems. When I was much younger, good friends would sometimes ask me for advice, which I would gladly give. When the friend chose a different path, and things didn't work out, I found myself getting pissed off. And swearing never to give the friend advice again. Man, I wish I had been able to read this book back then…
Crystal Otto
Jul 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading Helping by Edgar H. Schein and thought it offered an interesting perspective for workplace communication and relationships as well as offering insights that could be carried over into personal relationships as well. A good read for managers and leaders as well as anyone working in a group setting.
Jan 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not many books treat the topic of providing help. This book was interesting for me since it focuses on the relationship between the helper and the one receiving help. We are all too happy to offer help without thinking about how it does to the relationship. I enjoyed this book. It could be even shorter though.
Dec 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow - what a great read for managers and anyone in a relationship. Schein's writing is so efficient and well ordered - the book is 157 pages, and has 157 pages of content - so refreshing to have a book like this without any fluff.
Uses symbolic interactionism as lens. Types of help: informal, semi-formal and formal. Work on set of rules. Relationship (of social economics and theater) initiated by one person. Take time to explore the stated problem - may be something other, may really want validation.
Mar 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had a lot of good information for me in my life. It pointed out some things that now seem obvious, but needed to be pointed out to me.
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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
“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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