The Anatomy of Peace – Resolving the Heart of Conflict

Author: The Arbinger Institute
Price: £13.99
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler
Pages: 240
ISBN: 1576753344

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This is a book on how to manage conflict, whether between colleagues, members of a family, or entire nations. The advice is told through the story of a group of parents trying to resolve issues with their children, and is in the form of a feature-length case-study on conflict management.

For the British reader, it is at times a little overly sentimental, rather like an American TV drama, but that don’t let that put you off. The unusual narrative format, for what is essentially a non-fiction book, seems to work. It is easy to get drawn into the story, and to engage with the characters and their issues, learning our own reasons for conflict as the characters learn theirs.

The book suggests we justify our position and behaviour in conflict based on underlying beliefs, such as that we are better than others, and each of the characters in the book represents a certain style of justification. The story format helps to demonstrate how this works in practice, but as some characters command a larger part in the story, others with equally interesting justification styles perhaps deserve a little more attention.

There is lot more emphasis on the reasons for conflict, and much less on actual solutions. The authors provide solutions in the last third of the book, but as they are not described quite so painstakingly, they are harder to grasp.

However, whether you are trying to get along with your manager, your co-workers or your family, there are great lessons to take from this book.

Useful? Four out of five stars
Well-written? Four out of five stars
Practical? Four out of five stars
Inspirational? Five out of five stars
Value for money? Four out of five stars
Overall? Four out of five stars

Reviewed by S. Hart, director, compensation and benefits, Europe and Asia, ArvinMeritor

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