The Art of Humble Inquiry
Happy sunshine - happy warm weather – happy face time with friends!
Several years ago I read a book by Edgar Schein, The Art of Humble Inquiry. The book has stayed with me, and I strive to follow its lessons. Today, more than ever before, the art of humble inquiry is a critical skill.
Humble Inquiry asks questions. We are in a culture that loves talking, loves telling. We need to learn to ask better questions because we operate in an increasingly complex, interdependent, and culturally diverse world. We couldn't possibly understand what others in the room know. Asking rather than telling invites people in. Fundamentally, asking empowers the other person and makes me vulnerable and available and, for that moment, even more approachable.
Humble Inquiry requires authenticity. You ask questions because you genuinely are interested and curious. You can't fake this - if you are disingenuous, it will only work for a short while.
Humble Inquiry is even more important when all involved parties need to do the right thing, to be connected on the same mission. In my work, especially in a political environment, good relations and reliable communication across hierarchical borders is crucial. “Here and now" humility is our awareness that we are dependent on others to accomplish something we are committed to.
And Humble Inquiry challenges me to overcome the belief that, "if you're not winning, you're losing." It takes a lot of growing to stop telling - and start asking.
Steven Covey echoes a similar sentiment in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
See you in the trenches.
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