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The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict

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Like Leadership and Self-Deception, The Arbinger Institute's first book, The Anatomy of Peace has become a worldwide phenomenon—not because of a media blitz, movie tie-in, or celebrity endorsement, but because readers have enthusiastically recommended it to colleagues, relatives, and friends.

The Anatomy of Peace asks, What if conflicts at home, conflicts at work, and conflicts in the world stem from the same root cause? What if we systematically misunderstand that cause? And what if, as a result, we unwittingly perpetuate the very problems we think we are trying to solve?

Through an intriguing story we learn how and why we contribute to the divisions and problems we blame on others and the surprising way that these problems can be solved. Yusuf al-Falah, an Arab, and Avi Rozen, a Jew, each lost his father at the hands of the other's ethnic cousins. The Anatomy of Peace is the story of how they came together, how they help warring parents and children come together, and how we too can find our way out of the struggles that weigh us down.

This second edition includes new sections enabling readers to go deeper into the book's key concepts; access to free digital study and discussion guides; and information about The Reconciliation Project, a highly successful global peace initiative based on concepts in The Anatomy of Peace.

288 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2015

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About the author

The Arbinger Institute

13 books329 followers
Arbinger was founded in 1979. Since then, Arbinger has worked with thousands of individuals and organizations and helped them to transform their effectiveness and performance.

Early on, Arbinger’s growth was fueled solely by clients who spread the word about Arbinger’s impact. Arbinger’s public profile was then dramatically increased by the global success of its first book, Leadership & Self Deception, which was published in 2000. The book quickly became a word-of-mouth bestseller. It is now available in 27 languages and has sold over a million copies.

Arbinger’s second international bestseller, The Anatomy of Peace, was published in 2006. Available in 14 languages and having sold nearly 500,000 copies to date, The Anatomy of Peace demonstrates the power of Arbinger’s work in resolving conflict.

Arbinger is now recognized as a world-leader in improving organizational culture and conflict resolution. Arbinger’s clients range from individuals who are seeking help in their lives to many of the largest companies and governmental institutions in the world.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,980 reviews
Profile Image for Ann.
187 reviews9 followers
July 1, 2009
Three reasons I wanted to hate this book: 1. Not written by a person but by an institute? 2. "Personal Growth" is the genre listed on the back--ugh! and 3. It just had cheesy corny all over it.

And then, when I began reading, and everything felt horribly contrived...ok, WAS horribly contrived, I thought, how am I going to get through this. And then. THEN.

The "teaching" characters in the book tell us this story of a military/political leader from 1187 AD who had remarkable successes and abilities. Why? They ask...what made him so admired? The answer:

"His heart was at peace."

I kid you not. How in the universe could they possibly know that? I might have put the book down after that if it weren't for the fact that this is a book club book for next month and I'm hosting.

So I plowed on. How did I get from 4 (or 5) strikes against to 4 stars? Somehow the personal interest of these fictionalized characters carried me along. Somehow the "suspense" of waiting to hear their answers to all of the world's worst problems kept me going until I began to find kernal after kernal of truth and insight. All of it building on itself. The book never moves past an idea until all of the "characters" understand it. Which is at once annoying and incredibly helpful.

In short, I learned from this book, and my brain is still working on what it will mean for me and my relationships, how it might apply. But it makes sense and rings true. All without preaching a particular religious creed or value system. All without condemning anyone or anything.

All just striving for peace in a very detailed, specific, and logical way. I don't know--in spite of myself, I'm convinced they have something here.
440 reviews5 followers
June 12, 2011
Well, I think this book has an important message. It made me re-think some aspects of my life and offers some very true advice. The diagrams are helpful for the visual learner.

Unfortunately, the book is quite painful to read. It is one of those books that tries to teach concepts via a story. But in my experience, this delivery method comes across contrived and somewhat condescending. If I am going to read a self help book, I would rather have the information set forth in a clear, well-written way. Let's not try to make fiction out of non-fiction. Instead, you have to wade through all these stock characters having their own constant epiphanies. It is not believable and really boring.

I would like to call for a revision. Find an author who can write, one who would actually be willing to claim the book (how does an institute write a book??), and try for non fiction self help. Then you might have something worth reading. Bad writing hampers good messages.

Profile Image for Karey.
Author 1 book289 followers
December 8, 2007
The Arbinger Institute came out with a book to precede The Anatomy of Peace, called, Leadership and Self-Deception. They both present a paradigm shift in the way we percieve those around us. The Anatomy of Peace has influenced how I interact with others within the walls of my own home more than any other book save the Bible or Book of Mormon.
Profile Image for Bharath.
570 reviews434 followers
October 25, 2022
I was referred this book by some friends. It tackles the issue of how we get into conflicts with others, how they get worse and how we can resolve this with fresh thinking. Since the book is largely a dialogue among people, the audiobook is a great format.

The setting is a fictional meeting of a group of people at Camp Moriah. As they dialogue, helped by the hosts, they understand how conflicts are generated in their minds. The primary concept the book covers is – having a heart at peace vs a heart at war. A heart at peace views others as human beings with their aspirations, views, and feelings. A heart at war dehumanizes the other, viewing them as objects. It often becomes a vicious cycle of hate. The later sections move to the ‘The Pyramid of Change’ on how we can set this right.

This is a well-intentioned book, though conceptually it is sparse and you can find other mindfulness books today which cover more aspects of how we acquire our views, how we can be more self-aware and use that to understand & build fair & sound relationships.

My rating: 3.5 / 5.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,671 followers
February 5, 2018
“We separate from each other at our peril.”
― The Arbinger Institute, The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict


“...whenever I dehumanize another, I necessarily dehumanize all that is human---including myself.”
― The Arbinger Institute, The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict

It is seldom I will actually praise a self-help or business-oriented book. They are usually pamphlets expanded, filled with bad writing, cliches, and seem destined to continually try to rebottle old wine. The Arbinger Institute's 'Anatomy of Peace' is a different bird in several ways. It isn't written by one person (although it is largely built from the work of philosopher C. Terry Warner), but rather by an organization. It has its faults and limitations, but is a constructive addition to conflict resolution. It builds on C. Terry Warner's ideas of self-deception, human emotions, and conflcit resolution. C. Terry Warner is a PhD in philosophy and taught for years at BYU so it is natural that the foundations of a lot of Arbinger (a company he founded) is centered around philosophy, theology, and psychology. The foundations of this book look at how understanding others and treating them like humans and not as objects helps us to find peace within, and by doing so leads to better understanding in families, businesses, and nations. It sounds a bit squishier than it is.

Many of the models and even the setting used in this book are familiar to me. The book is set in Arizona (my home state) and is built around a fictional school, Camp Moriah (the book that seems roughly modeled on the Anasazi Foundation, a wilderness program for troubled youth). I should also add that I know the Warner family. I'm good friends with of of C. Terry's daughters and went to high school and university with several of his kids in Utah. He's the real deal, but I might also hold some proximity bias. But whatever bias I hold in favor towards C. Terry Warner should also be balanced by my usual contempt for this type of book. So, I guess it all balances out.
Profile Image for Wendy.
197 reviews5 followers
January 30, 2008
I'm responsible for my own feelings - CRAP! I hate it when that's true :-)
Profile Image for Rachel.
1,180 reviews16 followers
December 7, 2008
The idea that things that we do can feed into problems that we have with others is powerful, especially for people who like control. I really liked the concept that when we perceive others as being wrong, and ourselves as being right, we prevent ourselves from looking at different (and better or more effective) ways of approaching others.

This book has made a difference for good in one of my relationships, and I am grateful for that.

Beyond that, the book is corny. The setting for teaching is a Wilderness Camp for troubled teens. It is owned and operated by a Jew and Muslim who have found the keys to peaceful living and interaction. When parents come and drop their teens off to get their heads and their acts together, the parents also have a two day emotional issues boot camp, learning how things that they think and do may be as much a part of the problem as the various illegal and destructive things their teens are doing.

The ideas are useful, but the method of teaching feels completely artificial. I like self-help books that just lay out the plan, rather than using some silly narrative style to show me "Here is what you should be thinking and feeling at this point."
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,659 followers
April 26, 2018
Like I said in my review of the other Arbinger book (Leadership and self-deception), I love these ideas and hate the delivery. I feel the same way about this book, but I guess I hate the delivery less. The problem with the delivery is that they treat the reader like he's an idiot. The other problem is that they assume it's a HE. In all of them, the principle character is a dude and the women's "boxes" are also examined but as a sidebar. The ideas are certainly not gendered--they are universal and I've been trying to live my life based on these principles. But I find myself trying to learn despite of and not thanks to the writing and delivery. It's frustrating. If you talk directly to the reader, you can avoid these problems. Also, to all authors everywhere: do not assume your readers are idiots. We are not. We get it. You can talk about philosophy without our eyes glazing over. You don't have to put everything in corporate retreat speak.
Profile Image for Sunny.
733 reviews36 followers
March 2, 2020
7 stars again! Another paradigm shifting book. This is the sequel to the leadership and self deception book which i recently finished and loved. While that was marginally business included but essentially about relationships this is almost totally about relationships but can also be applied to the business setting of course. This book gives you a governance structure with which you can go about fundamentally changing some of the most troublesome relationship in your life, at work or at home. One thing that i realised about the book was that it mentally gets you to put your brakes on on the direction that you are travelling in. imagine you are zipping through on the motorway and suddenly have to do a handbrake 180 turn and start going in the other direction, those initial skidding moments will be accompanied by a lot of noise and most of all friction and heat. I'm trying to apply the brakes and about turn in the way that i have been applying myself to certain relationships and its very very tough, especially at this nascent stage of the “skid”. The book gives you an incredible methodology that you can use to revolutionize your life and the onerous relationships you may have in them. I feel like buying (may do it) and handing out multiple copies of this book to lots of people that i know and care for because i'm sure it will have a huge impact on their lives. Here are the best bits:
“The secret of salads success in the war yousef answered, was that his heart was at peace .”

“In every moment we are choosing to be either like Saladin or like the crusading invaders. In the way we regard as children are spouses neighbours colleagues and strangers, which used to see others either as people like ourselves or as objects.”

“In your conflicts with other people even if you are convinced you have been right in the positions you’ve taken, can you say with confidence that you have also been right in your way of being towards them?”

“Solution is possible only when at least one party begins to consider how you might be wrong. But what if I’m not wrong Lou blurted out. Well if you are not wrong then you will be willing to consider how you might be mistaken.”

“Being in the world is what is most fundamental to human experience. He observed that there are basically two ways of being in the world: we can be in the world seeing others as people Or we can be in the world seeing others as objects. He called the first way of being there I-Thoul way and the second that I-it way and he argued that we are always in every moment being either I-thou or I-it.”

“As painful as it is to receive contempt from another it is more debilitating by far to be filled with content for another. In this too I speak from painful experience. My own contempt for others is the most debilitating pain of all for when I am in the middle of it when I’m seeing resentfully and disdainfully I condemn myself to living in a disdained and resented world”

“it is possible to find peace once more even when much of my life has been a war zone. Although nothing I can do in the present can take away the mistreatment of the past the way I carry myself in the present determines how I carryforward the memories of those mistreatment’s. When I see others as objects I dwell on the injustices I have suffered in order to justify myself keeping my mistreatment and suffering alive with me.”

“This style of justification does not allow us to see others as people because we must see them prejudicially as less than we are, the less skilled perhaps or less important less knowledgeable less righteous and someone always less and therefore always objects.”-Unfortunately I have thinking akin to this :(

The book speaks about four boxes that anyone can often find themselves in unfortunately: the first box is called the better than box:In this box the view of yourself is superior important virtues right your view of others is inferior incapable irrelevant false/ wrong your own feelings are impatient disdainful indifferent. your view of the world is competitive trouble and needs me.

The second box is called that I deserve box. In this box the view of yourself is meritorious mistreated victim and un appreciated. Your view of others is mistaken mistreating Ungrateful. Your feelings are entitled deprived resentful. Your view of the world is unfair unjust and owes me.

The third box is called thr must be seen as box. The view of yourself is need to be well thought off. And fake. The view of others is judgemental threatening my audience. Your feelings are anxious afraid needy stressed and overwhelmed. Your view of the world is dangerous watching and judging me.

The 4th box is called the worse than box. The view of yourself is not as good broken deficient fated. Your view of others is advantaged privileged and blessed. Your feelings are helpless jealous bitter depressed. Your view of the world is hard difficult against me ignoring me.

“While it is true we can’t make others change, we can invite them to change.”

The book also talks about an excellent peacemaking pyramid. It’s got six layers to it. The foundational layer asks you to get out of your own box and to obtain a heart of peace. The second layer ask you to build relationships with others who have influence on the individual or group with which you have a challenge. The third layer ask you to build the relationship with that person. The fourth layer ask you to listen and learn from them. The fifth layer Asks you to teach and communicate with him. And ultimately the sixth layer is where you should work on correcting the issue in a cocreative way. Unfortunately people jump to that six layer and try to focus on what the corrections need to be without focusing on the five layers beneath that apex of the pyramid which is the correction itself. “If I’m correcting and correcting but the problems remain that’s the clue that the solution to the problem I’m facing will not be found in further corrections.”

The pyramid is based on three principles. Principal number one most the time and effort should be spent at the lower levels of the permit. Remember we want to spend most of our time in the levels of the pyramid below correction which is Exactly the opposite of what we normally do. Want to spend most of our time actively helping things go right rather than dealing with things that are going wrong.“

“Principal number 2 the solution to a problem at one level of the pyramid it’s always below that level of the pyramid.”

Principal number three. Ultimately my effectiveness at each level of the pyramid depends on the deepest level of the pyramid: my way of being.

“The Pyramid keeps helping me to remember that I might be the problem in giving me hints of how I might begin to become part of the solution. A culture of change can never be created by behaviour strategy alone. Peace weather at home work or between peoples is invited only when intelligent outward strategy is married to a peaceful Inward one.”
Profile Image for Adrianna.
209 reviews21 followers
March 5, 2018
I couldn't decide how many stars to give this. On one hand, I appreciated the narrative style of presenting self-help information. I often get bored reading non-fiction, so this was appreciated despite the very contrived feel of the story line. On the other, it was contrived, and like other reviewers have mentioned, the insights into Lou's mind were hit-or-miss on helpfulness. Also, if I'd known before I read it that the Arbinger Institute was Mormon-run, I may have skipped it entirely. In my experience, the self-help books written by Mormons have a strange detachment from reality. I actually did get that sense throughout the book, however helpful it ended up being.

Several of the ideas in the book deserve some consideration, however. The first of these is that self-betrayal (denying our inner sense of right and wrong--and a lifetime of it!) is the cause of our deep-seated unhappiness and therefore why our hearts are at war with ourselves and others. If we have little moral compass, how can we feel at peace with ourselves, or treat others well?

The next idea is the "boxes" of unhappiness we carry around with us because of this self-betrayal; those boxes are labeled "I-deserve," "better-than," "worse-than," and "need-to-be-seen-as." Each of us carry around some level of all of these, usually--and often more of one than another. Being able to recognize when we are experiencing the emotions that go along with these boxes is our first step toward reclaiming a "heart of peace" rather than a "heart of war." These emotions include (depending on the box you are carrying): impatience, disdain, superiority, entitlement, deprivation, resentment, helplessness, bitterness, depression, anxiety/fear, neediness/stress, and being overwhelmed. When we realize we are feeling these ways, we can then start looking for the ways we are seeing/treating others as objects (obstacles, problems, faceless people) rather than as people with their own needs, desires, and struggles.

"Seeing an equal person as an inferior object is an act of violence. It hurts as much as a punch to the face. In fact, in many ways it hurts more. Bruises heal more quickly than emotional scars do" (Arbinger, 34).

When we realize we've been treating others badly because we rationalize their treatment based on how we feel and our need to justify poor choices, we need to find a place (physically or in our minds) where we can remember or feel what it's like to be out of the box; a time when we felt loved, accepted, and happy. From that place, looking at our wars, we can determine ways to change our behavior to a behavior of peace toward others rather than the pattern of war we have been perpetuating.

The main idea, obviously, is that change needs to come from within us. This does not mean allowing others to abuse us, or treat us like a door-mat, this is simply a way to do war, if necessary, or stop the war, with a heart of peace so we can feel whole. This is a program for ourselves: to stop the hate we feel, to stop the resentment, and the feeling of being a victim. Everything is within our power, no matter our circumstances and history. We can choose happiness and peace and emotional wholeness.

I think overall, despite it's flawed presentation, this book has some great ideas to implement in ourselves and our interpersonal relationships. While it didn't specifically address how to interact with someone who is contentious, or how to avoid contentious situations, it will certainly help me prevent myself from feeling that contention in my heart when it does happen. It will help me keep the perspective of the other person as an equal human being rather than a problem to address. It will help keep the poison from my soul and draw out any poison that is there, over time. I was looking for something else when I picked up this book and ended up finding something else I needed more right now.
Profile Image for Sarah Jane.
142 reviews4 followers
September 18, 2016
The writing is awful.

I used to work for a wilderness therapy program but even if I hadn't had that experience I would still be able to sum up this book and Leadership and Self Deception: don't be a jerk. Or be a jerk, if you really want, but then don't be surprised when things don't go your way.
Profile Image for Donna.
3,882 reviews8 followers
January 29, 2023
Genres: Nonfiction/Personal Development

This book was recommended to me by a total stranger when we discovered we both loved reading. Then it seemed like we were lifelong friends. It's funny how sharing the same loves can bring people together.

First, I'll just say that I truly HATE books that feel so contrived and cheesy just to make a statement. Like, TADA!!! And this one started off just like that. BUT I really liked where it went. Just when you think it is all about the kids, it isn't. SO that was a nice and appreciated little surprise.

Definitley food for thought. And I would read this one again, so 5 stars.
Profile Image for Bilal Y..
101 reviews78 followers
October 1, 2017
Bu kitabın sizi şaşırtacak, şok edecek bir çalışma olduğunu söylemeyeceğim ama sizin kendinize dönmenizi sağlayacak bir çalışma olduğundan eminim. Barışı tesis etmek işini önce kendimizden başlatmalıymışız. "Ben haklıyım", "ben iyiyim", "böyle görülmeli" gibi anlayışlardan kurtulmalıyız öncelikle. Ötekiyle aramızda bir denklik sorunu olmadığını göstermeliyiz. Kitaptaki İsrailli ve Filistinli arasında tarihsel soruna rağmen barış tesis edilmiş. Hatta birbirlerine güvenen iki dost onlar... Barışı özümsemiş kişi olarak tarihsel bir kişilik olan Selahaddin Eyyubi'nin hakkı teslim edilmiş kitapta. Batılılar barışı Selahaddin'den öğrendiklerini itiraf ediyor. İyi bir savaşçı olmasına rağmen Selahaddin'in tek amacı toplumsal barışmış.

Kitap bir roman gibi de okunabilir. Barışı tesis etmek, yapmak ve yaymak kitapta bir kurgu şeklinde verilmiş. Kutular ve piramitler sayesinde mevzu şeffaflaştırılmış ve özetlenmiş.
Profile Image for Emily.
176 reviews
February 16, 2010
If I could have, I would have given this book 3 1/2 stars. It was good, but it wasn't my favorite book ever. It wasn't even a book that I would go around recommending to everyone.

I thought the message of the book was great. I liked the way they gave a good visual for the inner conflict of everyday choices. It was a great message to tell people who don't "get it."

However, halfway through the book, I was done. Firstly, I was done with the exhaustingly long train of thoughts that Lou goes through. Yeah, sure, he's the main character and we want to know what he's thinking, but do we have to know every single thought he thinks about minor comments? Do we have to go through all these flashbacks through his life every time a new concept is brought up? And it didn't help that most of the characters weren't exactly likeable. Even when their flaws were exposed, even when they realized where they were wrong, I still didn't care for them and I was glad I don't know them personally. The teachers, although they have deep, communicative stories about their own lives, didn't even seem like real people to me.

Of course, all these things are petty annoyances and could easily be overlooked. The true reason I didn't consider this book to be the best self-help book ever was because it wasn't a solution. It didn't actually show you how to choose a heart of peace over a heart of war. It tried, but who is really going to ever stop dead in their tracks and go, "oh yeah, heart at peace, gotta have a heart at peace"? Maybe, if the ideas in this book were completely revolutionary to them, then they would. But for me, it wasn't a radical change of thinking, it was just a very orderly way of thinking what I was always taught to think.

I found myself comparing this book with "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey. The difference, to me, was that "7 Habits" had an actual formula of what to do, actual steps to take. "Anatomy of Peace" tried to accomplish that, and in my mind, failed.

I definitely appreciated what this book was trying to convey, and I would recommend it to someone who desperately needed to turn their life around. But it just wasn't what I needed. Not that I'm perfect by any means, and I wouldn't be entirely truthful if I said that this book didn't help me some. It was a good reminder of the way I should be and the way I should be thinking. But I didn't feel like it totally changed my life, and I had this annoying feeling that the authors were waiting with baited breath for me to jump up and go, "Whoa! Now I understand!" ...Yeah, that didn't happen. But overall, the book was really good and I would recommend it.
Profile Image for Marsha.
306 reviews4 followers
April 24, 2009
I read this for my master's program and we had a little mini seminar on it. I have to admit that even though I love to read, I am never very excited to read a self-help book. I dislike introspecting and am not very good at it, so concepts that require examining my motives or my sub-conscious issues don’t resonate with me at all. I find that trying to figure myself out is tiring, confusing, and, frankly, quite boring.

Because of my prejudice against this particular genre, I approached reading The Anatomy of Peace with some slight trepidation. I was surprised to find that it was interesting and a fairly quick read. It isn't written in a textbook way, but instead tells a story, and the principles being taught unfold through the dialogue and actions of the characters. These principles go right along with my beliefs in the doctrines of Jesus Christ (the book is not religious) and the way that I am trying to be, anyway. Because I am more of an action person (application without introspection), I also liked the book because it gave concrete ideas on how to apply what it taught.

The basic premise is that we always have a choice as to whether we treat others as objects or as people (based on the I-thou, I-it philosophy of Martin Buber). Our actions don't matter as much as our "state of being" that we feel when we perform them. We can be doing the "right" thing, but if our heart isn't at peace and seeing others as people, we will be creating conflict. There is really a lot of wisdom in this book that gave me some "Aha" moments.

Profile Image for Steve Hemmeke.
594 reviews38 followers
April 23, 2011
If you are in a relationship of long-term conflict, read "The Anatomy of Peace." The main purpose of this book is to get the reader who is in conflict to reflect upon his own contributions to the conflict. Since our natural tendency is to blame the one we're fighting, we need to reconsider that our posture toward the situation and our "enemy" is a major factor. The longer we are in conflict, the more strongly we deny this, but it remains true.

We tend to objectify people instead of be at peace with them as people in relationship. We see ourselves as better (or worse) than them, or we have to be seen by them a certain way, or think we deserve better.

Instead, we need to apologize for what we can, sacrifice for our enemy out of empathy with them, give them space to thrive, and continue considering them from a perspective of peace.

The book does an especially good job dealing with skeptics, in the character of Lou, who assume this approach means compromising the truth or capitulating an important position. Being at peace with a person is different than giving them whatever they want. We don't have to be at war with people to maintain the truth or accomplish our goals.
Profile Image for Alison.
30 reviews2 followers
January 8, 2010
I began reading trying to argue with the author because I didn't like the "authors" hiding behind "the institute". Come out and say who wrote it and why! I spent too long investigating that Ferrell mainly, and Warner wrote it. I don't like Ferrel's style of writing, I couldn't finish Peacegiver or Bonds... by Warner either. Too cumbersome!
I was annoyed by the long pretentious list of lds famous people who endorse the book. Why do you need so many endorsements of the book? It's so inbred! The connections the institute has in other countries doesn't mean much, it is easy in ANY lds group to find return missionaries from every continent with connections! BYU has many connections in the middle east through the BYU Jerusalem Center and the many study abroad programs all over the world. Pompous BYU professors using church connections to make money; to be exact: $800 for a two day seminar! It's a rip-off for the poor people gullible enough to pay that much for the same old stuff repackaged. I admit, this predjudice got me off to a bad start.
I didn't find the characters believable or interesting. I did not identify with them. I had to reread parts to understand who was who. Developing the story and getting to the point was painstakingly slow and I would not have finished the book were it not for my nice bookclub.
I didn't like being talked down to as if these concepts are so complex and difficult to understand. The concepts are not new and certainly not groundbreaking as the institute wants it to seem.
It's the same simple concepts just worded differently and not very clearly or simply! "in the box" "out of the box" "state of being" "justification" "collusion"
It is a confusing way of explaining cognitive therapy and the positive thinking books that have been around for years: you determine the state you are in by the thoughts you think and the way you view the world. When your thoughts are free from distortions and the blown-up emotions they cause, you can more effectively deal with the world around you. Really, it is simple! Why make it seem so complex?
I did like the pyramid at the end, of how to deal with conflicts, but I had to wade through alot of muck to get there!
Profile Image for David.
193 reviews7 followers
July 22, 2009
This book was highly recommended by a senior executive in my organization, so I felt compelled to consider it. The Arbinger Institute is a consulting group based in Utah, with a focus of helping "solve the problems created by self-deception." It's largely based on the ideas of C. Terry Warner, a philosophy professor at BYU.

This book presents a more direct application of ideas presented in the Institute's first book "Leadership and Self-Deception." In this second book, the ideas are taught in the context of a group of parents who bring their troubled children to an unusual rehabilitation center for juvenile delinquents, run by a Jew and a Muslim. But we don't see much of what happens with the children. The book describes two days of seminars held with the parents, where the directors of the center try to help them understand how their own actions and reactions relate to the problems of their children.

I don't often find myself dealing with the depth of conflict described here. But I found some things of interest; good thoughts on how we interpret our motivation and our responsibility for things we're involved in. We often blame others for things that are really either caused by ourselves or under our control much more than we allow.
Profile Image for Valerie.
Author 14 books45 followers
May 18, 2010
I just created a book list called Books That Changed My Life, and this book is on there. It's a powerful book because it took me out of my current perspective of people and opinions and lifted me outside of them a bit--so I can look at my opinions on the people around me and change them if I need to. And don't we all have relationships that need improving?

The powerful points of this book for me:

1. If I'm unhappy, I am the one who needs to change
2. I can choose a heart of war or a heart of peace
3. Seeing people as people and not objects will help me keep a heart of peace
4. Spend most of my time catching people doing right, rather than correcting/criticizing them
5. Acting with a heart of war actually encourages people to do more of the stuff I don't want them to do

It's a profound book and remembering what I learned in it has already helped make yesterday and today better in my relationships (especially with my children).

Profile Image for Monica Evans.
107 reviews1 follower
January 10, 2017
I didn't like the delivery of the message (super cheesy stereotypical characters) but I liked the message itself. Most of the book was filled with fake dialogue with a parent playing devils advocate with a counselor who was presenting the ideas. Despite the painfully fake characters, this book did help me see myself in a new way and led to a great book club discussion. You could probably find a better book with a similar message though... like the Bible or The Book of Mormon.
Profile Image for Rebecca L..
Author 4 books42 followers
January 21, 2019
I recently finished The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict on audio from Audible. It was recommended to me by my church. I used it to help provide background information for a small group study that we did this January regarding some divisive issues. My church people found it to be a helpful read and many of them enjoyed it. The thing that they liked most about this book was that it was a framed story that reads similar to a novel. I have found that what my people (and people in general) respond most to is storytelling. As humans, we are all wired for stories.

If you have read a great deal about the concept of church leadership and conflict management, you won't find a great deal of new information in this book; however, the strongest aspect of this book is the fact that it makes complex issues readable and understandable for a general audience who might not have a background knowledge of ethics and philosophy.

I have recommended this book to other ministers and I have found it to be a useful tool to stimulate respectful discussion. I also enjoyed the fact that this book approaches issues from a global perspective and includes diverse voices from a variety of view points. In the audio version, the narrator does an excellent job of portraying different accents and inflections from a wide cast of characters.

*For more reviews like this one, please check out my website BeckieWrites.com .
Profile Image for Nikki.
120 reviews
January 22, 2021
I was really struck by how this book takes such a difficult topic - conflict- and helps you see what causes it and how to get out of it. I recommend this to everyone who feels like life is against them, to those who feel like they are underappreciated, to those who feel stressed all the time! Really it is for everyone, because we all need a little help.
Profile Image for Claudia Brown.
142 reviews1 follower
July 24, 2019
I am unsure how to begin writing a review for an experience that have deeply changed my heart. I have always been firm about reading books for distraction, since life has a way of making me dwell too much in stressful situations.

As I started my EMBA program, this book was one of our assignments for a class. To my surprise, this assignment has made an impact in my life and my heart that I could have never in a million years foreseen.

After many tears shed during this reading, I feel my eyes are opened to my own boxes and how I have reacted to many hardships I faced in my life up until this point. I cannot help but feel an immense gratitude for this message and how it opened myself to life. I have been at a point in my life, where discontent together with facing a reality of a lifelong illness have really done damage to my ability to accept peace in my heart. My heart has been at war for so long about my own self, that realizing this has really truly made me cry in sadness. However, I believe it is never too late, and I hope to use this experience to open my heart again to peace, to see myself as a person again, and to accept change in my life despite these circumstances.

I have been talking about this book nonstop since I began to read it. And hope to reread it many many times, when life happens to bring me back towards my box.

Thank you for such an inspiring book!
Profile Image for Philip Joubert.
80 reviews89 followers
May 28, 2019
Fantastic follow up to Leadership and Self-Deception. They build on the principle of "being in the box" and talk about the 4 narrative types we tell ourselves when we're in the box. After reading the book I immediately found it useful reflecting on the narratives I've been telling myself.

The four types of narratives we tell ourselves when we're in the box are:

1. Better Than
You see yourself as superior to others. You think you're more important and that your cause or viewpoint is the most virtuous one. You look down on others as inferior and flawed.

2. Worse Than
You see yourself as flawed and inferior to others. You see yourself as deficient and fated to have negative outcomes. To you the is world is a hard and difficult place with others being the lucky ones.

3. I Deserve
You feel that you've been hard done by life. You feel like you're are a victim and that nobody recognizes your value and contribution.

4. Need to Be Seen As
You crave attention and feel like you're are being watched and judged. You need to be thought well of and will work hard to fit in.
Profile Image for Ian Stewart.
53 reviews8 followers
April 14, 2018
A sequel (and narrative prequel) to Leadership and Self-Deception again written in the style of a “Church Movie Night” drama. You’ll know it if you’ve seen one: It’s teachable moment after teachable moment piled on in dialogue after dialogue. Again excellent despite that. Mostly a reiteration and expansion of the previous book though this one draws out more of the stoicism implicit in the ideas here. The key idea is again something like: “You and everyone on the planet are going to feel a desire to treat people as persons and help them when they’re in need. You're either going to honor that desire in your behaviors towards them — which may or may not help them — or betray that desire and dehumanize yourself and them. That won’t work out well for either of you.” There’s no real argument or proof for the inciting incident (the instant and unconscious, or maybe even biological, desire to help) but it feels right enough. Well worth anyone’s time. (It’s very short.)
Profile Image for Erika.
215 reviews17 followers
July 28, 2020
Great book about resolving conflict. I like how they used real life scenarios and characters to represent the different types of mindsets people have. It made it relatable and showed examples instead of just blanket statements.
Profile Image for Deb in UT.
1,226 reviews16 followers
October 10, 2020
This book was recommended to me by one of my younger brothers. He feels that it is easier to read (and that the story is easier to relate to) than what is found in The Bonds That Make Us Free: Healing Our Relationships, Coming to Ourselves by C. Terry Warner. Warner is a founder of the Arbinger Institute, the author of this book. Though the same basic concepts are taught in this book, I much prefer The Bonds That Make Us Free. Though that book isn't perfect either, I gave it four stars and wrote a long review.

That just goes to show that our reactions to books are very subjective. Maybe part of the reason I don't love this book is because I had very high expectations because of my brother's recommendation.

I agree that seeing others as people, not objects, is essential. I agree that if we don't act on doing what we know is right for ourselves and others then it's a form of self-betrayal. I understand how easy it is to be "at war" with others when we are justifying ourselves. I know that what is in our hearts when we do things matters. That's pretty much what I get from this book.

What I don't love about it:

*The single, story with no real conclusion. In the news, there have been stories about these types of reform camps. People have died. People have been abused. I have a huge amount of distrust of them as a result.

*The leaders. They're preachy. I don't like how they hold things back. They don't seem believable.

*Lou. He's stereotypical and belligerent. I feel sorry for his wife, who is also stereotypical and squishy.

*The "box" concept. I understand it, but it doesn't resonate with me or feel useful. Even the idea of cramming myself and my complex issues into the box feels claustrophobic.

*I also don't prefer the pyramid or the diagrams. I am a visual person, so that's not the problem, it's just that these visuals don't work for me.

*It doesn't go deep enough. I'm so glad I read The Bonds That Make Us Free first. I wouldn't have read it if I read this one first.

Oh well.
Profile Image for Cindy Rollins.
Author 20 books1,962 followers
February 6, 2017
It is embarrassing how many audiobooks I have read in the last two years and how many of them are books I grabbed on a whim because they were on sale for two or three dollars. If it wasn't for audiobooks I would be reading far less because I am home far less. This bugs me so much that I intend to make sure I am not pulled in so many different directions in the near future. In my defense, a good bit of my not being at home has been because I am in having to travel to my parents frequently, something I enjoy doing and audiobooks help it to be even more enjoyable. Someday, I will not have to visit my parents anymore.

So, I bought this on a whim and it is corny and the voice of the narrator is even cornier and then when I found out the main story in the book, in which an Arab and a Jew become friends, wasn't even true it kind of left me scratching my head. But is wasn't a total waste of time. We all need to be reminded to love our enemies. It is just the much shorter parables in the Bible cover that subject better in far less time. Still, it was worth a ponder.
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