Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Book Review - The Anatomy of Peace

If you find yourself feeling angry at other people, or in what seems like a perpetual state of conflict, you owe it to yourself to read The Anatomy Of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict by The Arbinger Institute. The good news (and the bad news) in the book is that it starts with you, and in your heart that is often at war.

The Anatomy of Peace uses a story about an executive in the midst of crises at work and in his family to communicate the concepts. I like this method because the points are easily understood - in the head and in the gut. I found that I had to read a bit, then step back and think about how it related to me. I'll be the first to admit that I found a bit of myself in struggles of the main character, Lou - and I think you will too.

The Arbinger Institute says through Lou's story that our hearts are at war when we view other people as objects, as vehicles, as obstacles, etc. to our own agendas. To make things worse, we find ways to justify why we're treating them in that way, and our interaction with them creates a chain reaction that is exactly what we don't want. The book calls it "collusion: a conflict where the parties are inviting the very things they're fighting against."

The Anatomy of Peace also discusses the "boxes" we go into that obscure the truth about other people, boxes like
  • Better-than (I'm better than they are)
  • Worse-than
  • I-deserve
  • I-need-to-be-seen-as

It's only when we can get out of the boxes and truly see the other person that we can resolve conflict and repair relationships.

This was quite a worthwhile read. If you engage your own heart when you read it the book might not be comfortable. But the discomfort will be exactly what helps you get the message.


Chip Scholz said...

Great stuff, Julie. Between their first book, Leadership and Self Deception, and this book, they create a compelling picture of what relationships can look like. Thanks for posting on it!

Julie Poland, certified business coach said...

Chip, it's good to hear from you! It's just like my husband tells our girls - every time you point your finger at somebody else, you've got three pointing back at you! Amazing how the basics can be easy to know but hard to do consistently.

Jon Benfer said...

Julie, thanks for blogging about The Anatomy of Peace! If you're interested in talking with other coaches about the Arbinger approach, feel free to join our community at There's a great group of folks there!