After I posted about Leadership and Self-Deception I was contacted by a representative of The Arbinger Institute, the author of the book. We had the following dialogue via e-mail. If you have any thoughts about the book, the ability of addressing people as people or power dynamics, please comment and add to the dialogue!

Mike Rener of the Arbinger Institute wrote the following:

As you are right that we have a power within us, I would just flip it and in that we have the power to act on a choice. Arbinger would suggest that we have the power to choose how we regard other people. When I have a sense/desire to do something helpful for another, I am typically seeing that person as a person. But when I betray that sense (the sense I had to honor that person as a person) I no longer see them as a person, but rather an object. Once there (in the box) I need justification for how I am seeing that person as an object. So while your point of power is certainly applicable, I like to think of it as – we have the power to choose how we see others. And the choice(s) I make will determine my entire life experience…. Meaning I can live a life with others in the box, or out.


I responded:

I do appreciate the book's focus on addressing others as people and not objects. It reminded me of Jean-Paul Sartre's Being and Nothingness. Sartre’s idea is that seeing another's gaze shakes our frame of reference because all of a sudden we realize we are not the center of the universe and that everyone is seeing things from their own perspective. This realization forces people to reconsider their place in the world not as the center, but as a part of many.

I still think that the choice of viewing people as human is more complex and requires a discussion about power and privilege that your book did not address. Many judgements come from our own experiences and being unable to see and/or value the point of view of others, especially others who are different from oneself.
Rener responded:
Sartre had some neat insight on the idea of self-deception. It looks like from your experience, you may enjoy the attached. The book is actually just the beginning of the deep exploration within the human sciences around this paradox. It is a journey for all of us to take and understand (or disagree) as we go.

He attached: The Intellectual Foundations of Arbinger Consulting and Training.