Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Soft As A Brick and The Anatomy of Peace

The Anatomy of Peace, by The Arbinger Institute . . . what a great new (revised) book, for business
AND personal life.  I hear a lot about trying to separate work and home and the more I hear and read the more I’ve come to realize that it’s impossible.  This book will help with that balance.  After reading, you’ll look at everyday things and people so differently.  We cause conflict.  We hold on to conflict.  But we also have the ability to solve conflict.  It all comes from within and how WE relate to OTHERS.  We can’t sit back and wait for someone else to take the first step.  Be proactive and read this book and learn from deep within about the person that you can, and should be.

Today I have the honor of hosting Sam Whitney, Client Solutions Manager at The Arbinger Institute, with a great lesson for us all.

Soft As A Brick
Some time ago I worked as a trainer for a fairly large organization. As a trainer I had to coordinate with employee supervisors in order to obtain training topics and schedule training. One of my supervisors was not helping me; in fact he was sabotaging my trainings. And, it seemed clear, he was doing it on purpose. He would “forget” to schedule the sessions, not give me proper topics, and then undermine what I was saying during the training sessions. I was very close to making a formal complaint and I was hopeful I could get him fired.  I had been working with my training supervisor for months looking for a solution to all the problems he was causing me. I wasn’t treating him poorly, and I felt I was doing a great job as a trainer; I had no clue as to why he was being such a problem.

Soon the book The Anatomy of Peace fell into my lap with a recommendation that it might help solve my problem. My first reaction was “I don’t need this, I just need to get this supervisor out of my way.” But I was wrong. As I read the book I was impressed how the ideas challenged me to get outside of my own way of seeing. This was really hard for me to do because it forced me to see this supervisor as a person. There was one line in the book that changed the whole game for me, “We invite in others the very behaviors we say we hate.” When I read that I realized I needed to be responsible for my contribution to the problem I was having. I was finally able to see how I was actually provoking negative behavior from this supervisor. It turns out the way I was going about scheduling was not working for the supervisor; it was hindering his own scheduling. I was also training in a way that was not taking into account what the employees needed and what the supervisor needed. I found out that he thought I was the problem.

I decided to have a meeting. In this meeting I told the supervisor all the things I was doing that I thought were getting in his way or making his life harder. He was impressed and after discussing both of our needs and objectives we saw that neither of us was worthy of firing. We both were trying our best but had been blind to how we were affecting each other.

From that moment on our work changed dramatically. Training's improved. We held them more often and with better topics. The employees benefited, sales increased overall, and the company was able to see improved engagement from its employees.

Here at Arbinger we have a saying about The Anatomy of Peace—it’s about as soft as a brick. It hit me hard when I needed it most.

Sam Whitney is Client Solutions Manager at the Arbinger Institute, the organization-author of the bestsellers Leadership and Self-Deception and The Anatomy of Peace, which teach concepts and models designed around the idea that seeing people as people can dramatically impact the results we achieve in organizations, in relationships, and in the world. Click here to learn more.