Today I’d like to focus on how a leader/coach should listen to their own heart and apply active leadership techniques in order to break free from the confinement of a box. This article is an overview of The Anatomy of Peace, a publication by Arbinger Institute.

At any specific moment or over a long period of time, your heart could be at:




with other people (certain individuals or a group, such as a nation, race, class, or family).

Interpersonal relationships flourish when your heart is at peace. When it is at war, relationships suffer.

One or two hearts at war can create a conflict which will grow and become increasingly violent.


Your heart is “at war” with a person when your thoughts about them are filtered through your own beliefs and emotions, thus trapping you in a negative “box.”

“Boxes” are flawed products of our mind. They bear peculiar traces of our ego: though a subconscious state, it is still evident to people in our environment.

In a state of conflict, we tend to perceive others from within the box –  and it is a painful experience both for the observer and the person being scrutinized

The four most common boxes in which we close ourselves:

– “I’m better than you.”
– “I deserve more.”
– “I’m worse than you.”
– “I must be seen as…”

The consequences of boxes:

Staying in the box makes you blind. You are not able to perceive correctly because you are a slave to your inaccurate perception, opinion, and judgment. You think that all the arguments are in your favour.

When you are in the box, your subconscious dissents, screams, denies, and complains – and as a result, you can’t understand others.

You might begin to disdain another person and treat them as an object instead of a human being. It makes communication impossible.

Leaving the box:

The only solution is to return to a state of peace, which can happen only after you realize that you have entered the box.

Next, you need to apologise to this person and do something that will make amends and help your heart (trying to persuade them that everything is fine now or counting on their forgiveness does not work)

When your heart is at peace again, you feel good. This feeling brings about an immense relief.

Leadership in relationships:

Leadership happens outside judgments, outside stereotypes, out of the boxes. Building relationships with other people is possible only when we stop feeling the need to be right and stop fighting. Only when we understand that every single individual has the right to have their wisdom respected and taken seriously does it deserve to be called an interpersonal relationship, as opposed to an “agreement” or “contract” between parties.

If we want to create a deeper relationship, respecting another person is not enough – we need to admire their beauty, wisdom, and other qualities. The ability to ‘admire’ multiple individuals (e.g. employees) is one of the most important traits of an efficient leader. This kind of leader makes us feel powerful, capable of extraordinary feats, and highly motivated.


Each one of us falls into these boxes and provokes conflicts. Wise leaders should be aware of their emotions and, consequently, be able to recognise these boxes; they should also know how to leave them in a clever way and how to assist the others. Only then will we be able to create deep and positive relationships – relationships which are indispensable for finding fulfillment in life and ensuring success for our enterprises.

The Anatomy of Peace, Arbinger Institute

Jacek Skrzypczyński
AfT Leadership Coaching School