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Customer Review

81 of 104 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Felt kind of manipulated reading it, July 10, 2010
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This review is from: Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box (Paperback)
I bought Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box and The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict because I'll be starting a program in conflict resolution in a few months and I wanted to become more familiar with some of the basic concepts before I started. So far, I've only read Leadership and Self-Deception. I bought the two books because they are popular and were reviewed by a lot of people, and the majority of reviews were very positive. I have to admit I was in a bit of a rush, so I just read a couple of the very positive reviews as well as a couple of the very negative reviews befor I made my order.

When I received the books I was surprised to find they were written in narrative form. Because the books were written by an "institution" and not a specific author, I wrongly believed the style of the writing would be more scholarly or at a minimum journalistic. That's what I was looking for.

Because it was written as a narrative, I feel it's only fair to briefly review this aspect of the book. I found all of it very contrived, and I felt like I was being pushed along from point to point to point. All fictional narrative is about manipulating the thoughts and feelings of the reader (movie goer) and that's fine because it's a part of the contract between the narrative creator and the viewer. In the case of narrative in Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting out of the Box I felt manipulation because the message (themes) were meant to be so clear. I think with fictional or journalist narratives the themes aren't supposed to be so on the nose or in the case of journalistic writing it's often just descriptive or factual. There is some room for interpretation. Anyway, for me, the narrative structure wasn't effective because I felt manipulated.

At the end of the book, there is a section on how the book changed people's lives but the lack of details about the individuals bothered me. For example, an unnamed police department in an unnamed major city uses the book. An unnamed CEO fired himself but not before hiring his unnamed replacement. For me, the lack of detail undermines the credibility of the message. I would have much preferred a research based approach with analysis of actual events. Generic anecdotes don't do it for me.

As for the message of the book, I thought many of anecdotes were interesting and universally true. I think there is value in becoming aware of how we deceive ourselves at times. And of course, we should see others has people and not as objects. I think if we made an attempt to treat others more genuinely the world would be a better place. Unfortunately, having an intellectual understanding of the concepts isn't enough to put them into practice. I believe this to be true and the authors of the book do mention this in the book. To do that, we'll need to pay for courses provided by the Arbinger Institute (or other organization). I think that's fine. From what I read about the institute, they do seem to have their hearts in the right place and they do seem to want to make people's lives and the world a better place and I don't see any reason why they shouldn't make some money from their efforts.

The bottom line for me was the book cost about $12.00, I read it in an afternoon, I learned a few things, and thought about myself a little bit more deeply. I'll try and keep the concepts in mind when dealing with others. I'll pass the book on to my wife to see what she thinks. It will give us something share (which is good), but I think I'll need to find some other books to read on the subject that better meet my needs. Any suggestions?
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 8, 2013 1:25:40 PM PDT
James Dillon says:
If you indeed want something much deeper on this same theme --- and not in a narrative style --- try Bonds That Make Us Free Healing Our Relationship, Coming to Ourselves [HC,2001] by Terry Warner, one of the Arbinger founders. It's deep. Really deep. There is also a book in between these two, called The Anatomy of Peace, that expands on themes in Leadership and Self-Deception, but doesn't go as deep as Bonds that Make Us Free.

Posted on Apr 22, 2014 3:33:55 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 22, 2014 4:15:58 AM PDT
You felt kinda manipulated? Interesting.
That might be because the founders and leaders of Arbinger are Mormons, but they're not keen on you knowing that fact.

All these models fall foul of what I call 'The problem of Mao's Little Red Book'. That is, as long as everyone does exactly what the book says and doesn't deviate, we'll all get on fine. In other words, you all just agree to live in the same box, and you punish anyone who deviates - and Arbinger does of you disagree with it.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 28, 2014 10:40:02 AM PDT
F. Schaaf says:
How does Arbinger "punish" those who disagree?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2015 9:17:08 PM PST
Russ Thoman says:
I've read/listened to this book more times than I can count. I can't find even a hint of Mormonism. In fact, what I did find was the philosophical concepts of Martin Buber -- who was very much Jewish!
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