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The Anatomy of Peace


Reading The Anatomy of Peace completes the trifecta of books from the Arbinger Institute. I’ve already written reviews from Bonds that Make Us Free and Leadership and Self-Deception. All of these books are really a continuation of the thoughts of Martin Burber in his book I and Thou written in German and translated to English. Continuation in that they make real and accessible the wisdom of I and Thou.

The Anatomy of Peace offers a few key things to the insights of the other works. In the Anatomy of Peace we get to see the four kinds of boxes we can get into – the four ways that we can see others as objects rather than seeing them as people. The boxes are:

  • Better-than box – In this box you see yourself as better than other folks. They’re not as human as you because you’re better.
  • I-deserve box – The key world is entitlement. You don’t see others as people because you’re not getting what you believe you’re entitled to.
  • Must-be-seen-as box – In this box you are focused on your appearance – and because of that you can’t see folks as people. You’re too focused on how you appear to be.
  • Worse-than box – In this box you believe that you’re not worthy and therefore can’t relate to others as a caring person.

The book also offers helpful suggestions for getting out of the box:

  • 1. Look for the signs of the box (blame, justification, horribilization, common box styles, etc.).
  • 2. Find an out-of-the-box place (out-of-the-box relationships, memories, activities, places, etc.).
  • 3. Ponder the situation anew (i.e., from this out-of-the-box perspective). Ask
    • What are this person’s or people’s challenges, trials, burdens, and pains?
    • How am I, or some group of which I am a part, adding to these challenges, trials, burdens, and pains?
    • In what other ways have I or my group neglected or mistreated this person or group?
    • In what ways are my better-than, I-deserve, worse-than, and must-be-seen-as boxes obscuring the truth about others and myself and interfering with potential solutions?
    • What am I feeling I should do for this person or group? What could I do to help? Staying out of the box
  • 4. Act upon what I have discovered; do what I am feeling I should do.

Finally, the Peacemaking Pyramid offers suggestions for how to build to a place of being able to resolve problems – and how much time you should spend on the things that go right compared to the time you spend when things go wrong. Take a look:

The book will help you determine how to create peace, not just find it. That’s a pretty cool thing.