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johari window

The Johari Window

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The Johari Window

Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 7.09.35 PM
Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 7.09.35 PM

How we see ourselves and how others see us can be in complete opposition. Many philosophers have debated who can know our self better - we from the inside, or others from the outside. As with everything, the answer probably lies somewhere in the middle.

The Johari Window, developed by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, has been around since the 1950's as "a graphic model for interpersonal relations".

How can it be useful to you?

It provides an overview of what you see, know, or believe to be true about yourself, and what others see, know, or believe to be true about you - including blind spots. In other words, it's an excellent gap analysis between what is and what you want to be.

The first quadrant is Public Knowledge - both you and others have access to that information. It'll still take some communication skills to ensure both have the same understanding or interpretation of what is known.

You can obtain input for the second quadrant by asking friends, colleagues, family, and strangers for feedback. Why strangers? Because they gain nothing by sugarcoating their perception. Remember, feedback is often autobiographical, so we have to consider the source and their personal experiences when we receive it, and try to filter out our own biases and projections when we offer it.

Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 7.09.39 PM
Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 7.09.39 PM

Things you know but don't share with others populate the third quadrant. Some items may stay in there forever, some may be shared via services like postsecret.com and still remain somewhat anonymous. If you decide to share what was once private, of course that knowledge wanders into the first quadrant of public knowledge. Yes, there is movement between the items.

The fourth quadrant holds the space for all those things that may be pre-conscious, i.e. in the portions of your unconscious mind that can be probed, examined, and reflected. In coaching and counseling clients often describe "a-ha!" moments where something that was never quite clear, but lurking under the surface, suddenly pops into awareness. That piece of information then moves into the third quadrant, and possibly even the first if it's shared.

Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 7.10.05 PM
Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 7.10.05 PM

The quadrants are dynamic, and they have different sizes for different personality types and people from different cultures. For example, people with preferences for extraverted Feeling tend to be comfortable sharing their own personal experiences - to establish rapport with another person, or simply to share. Someone with preferences for introversion or introverted Thinking, for example, may play their cards much closer to their chest. Some people simply are inherently more private and will know a lot more about themselves than what they'll freely share with the outside world.

Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 7.09.48 PM
Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 7.09.48 PM

By the same token, there may also be cultural differences in how open we are. People from the USA tend to be more versed in small talk than people from Germany. Personal information is more easily shared State-side than it is in Germany, so the "public arena" may appear to be larger by comparison.

Asking for Feedback

To get you started, pick out five to ten adjectives to describe you, e.g. from list below (positive/desirable or negative/undesirable ones, or an even mixture, see Wikipedia example below). Then share that list with your network to see which adjectives they pick for you.

Discrepancies will indicate where to shine your light, seek more feedback, discuss, or simply feel if it rings true. Then it is up to you to decide whether the feedback is something you'll consider as an opportunity for growth and learning, or whether you'd rather dismiss it.

To boost motivation and self-esteem in your team, consider asking colleagues to use any of the positive descriptors to describe other team members - anonymously. E.g. write the person's name on an index card, add the descriptors, and then collect all cards that describe Lisa or Tom and read them out. For a more low-key debrief, simply hand the cards to the corresponding person, and they can read them whenever they're having a bad day.

  • able
  • accepting
  • adaptable
  • bold
  • brave
  • calm
  • caring
  • cheerful
  • clever
  • complex
  • confident
  • dependable
  • dignified
  • energetic
  • extroverted
  • friendly
  • giving
  • happy
  • helpful
  • idealistic
  • independent
  • ingenious
  • intelligent
  • introverted
  • kind
  • knowledgeable
  • logical
  • loving
  • mature
  • modest
  • nervous
  • observant
  • organized
  • patient
  • powerful
  • proud
  • quiet
  • reflective
  • relaxed
  • religious
  • responsive
  • searching
  • self-assertive
  • self-conscious
  • sensible
  • sentimental
  • shy
  • silly
  • spontaneous
  • sympathetic
  • tense
  • trustworthy
  • warm
  • wise
  • witty
  • incompetent
  • violent
  • insecure
  • hostile
  • needy
  • ignorant
  • blasé
  • embarrassed
  • insensitive
  • dispassionate
  • inattentive
  • intolerant
  • aloof
  • irresponsible
  • selfish
  • unimaginative
  • irrational
  • imperceptive
  • loud
  • self-satisfied
  • overdramatic
  • unreliable
  • inflexible
  • glum
  • vulgar
  • unhappy
  • inane
  • distant
  • chaotic
  • vacuous
  • passive
  • dull
  • cold
  • timid
  • stupid
  • lethargic
  • unhelpful
  • brash
  • childish
  • impatient
  • panicky
  • smug
  • predictable
  • foolish
  • cowardly
  • simple
  • withdrawn
  • cynical
  • cruel
  • boastful
  • weak
  • unethical
  • rash
  • callous
  • humourless

Image by Paolo S., Flickr, Creative Commons License.

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How to reduce your blind-spots

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How to reduce your blind-spots

For cars and horses it's physical; for people the elusive part is a mental corner, sometimes the size of a football field.

"What you don't know won't hurt you!"

So why should you care? Because shining a light in these corners can help ease your mind, improve relationships, as well as broaden your career prospects.

We've talked about perceptions, feedback, and the importance of getting to know yourself. In case this is your first time on this blog, welcome! :-) You'll find that I work from the premise that self-awareness is a wonderful thing, because once you know who you are, you know who you're dealing with, which parts of your behavior, emotions and reactions are yours and which are projections.

Enter the Johari Window. It has been around since the 1950's as "a graphic model for interpersonal relations" developed by Luft and Ingham. How can it be useful to you?

It's a neat way to have an overview of what you see, know, or believe to be true about yourself, and what others see, know, or believe to be true about you - in other words, excellent gap analysis between what is and what you want to be. 

You already know the information for that first public quadrant, and you can obtain input for the feedback one by asking friends, colleagues, family, and especially strangers (they gain nothing by lying or trying not to hurt your feelings). Quadrant three adds information about those things you are aware of and prefer to keep private from others, and the fourth and last one represents the subconscious and what's unknown.

How do you interpret your subconscious?

This one boggles my mind a little, because if it's unknown, then how do we know how big that quadrant is? Does it stand for our potential? Then it should be endless! Does it represent aspects about ourselves we've yet to find out? Then it's finite, and that doesn't sound right, either!

Depending on when in your life you decide to fill in the quadrants and the degree of feedback you're seeking, their sizes might vary.

Exercise:

  1. Pick out five to ten adjectives to describe yourself (see Wikipedia example below)
  2. Share the list of adjectives with your network and ask them to pick 5 to 10 adjectives to describe you.
  3. Examine the responses for overlaps and discrepancies to your own picks. 

Discrepancies will indicate where to shine your light, seek more feedback, discuss, or simply feel if it rings true. It is then up to you to decide whether the feedback is something you'll consider as an opportunity for growth and learning, or dismiss.

When introducing this tool into your school or workplace for colleagues/employees, a list of desirable options paired with anonymous feedback can result in powerful motivation, and a significant esteem-boost at the very least.

Sometimes we come across differently than we wish to, and until we are alerted to the fact we don't have the opportunity to make necessary adjustments. Granted, some people don't care or can't change other people's opinion anyway. Still, if you care about your appearance, I invite you to give the Johari Window a try. 


  • able
  • accepting
  • adaptable
  • bold
  • brave
  • calm
  • caring
  • cheerful
  • clever
  • complex
  • confident
  • dependable
  • dignified
  • energetic
  • extroverted
  • friendly
  • giving
  • happy
  • helpful
  • idealistic
  • independent
  • ingenious
  • intelligent
  • introverted
  • kind
  • knowledgeable
  • logical
  • loving
  • mature
  • modest
  • nervous
  • observant
  • organized
  • patient
  • powerful
  • proud
  • quiet
  • reflective
  • relaxed
  • religious
  • responsive
  • searching
  • self-assertive
  • self-conscious
  • sensible
  • sentimental
  • shy
  • silly
  • spontaneous
  • sympathetic
  • tense
  • trustworthy
  • warm
  • wise
  • witty

 

Image by Steven Ford, Flickr, Creative Commons License.

  • incompetent
  • violent
  • insecure
  • hostile
  • needy
  • ignorant
  • blasé
  • embarrassed
  • insensitive
  • dispassionate
  • inattentive
  • intolerant
  • aloof
  • irresponsible
  • selfish
  • unimaginative
  • irrational
  • imperceptive
  • loud
  • self-satisfied
  • overdramatic
  • unreliable
  • inflexible
  • glum
  • vulgar
  • unhappy
  • inane
  • distant
  • chaotic
  • vacuous
  • passive
  • dull
  • cold
  • timid
  • stupid
  • lethargic
  • unhelpful
  • brash
  • childish
  • impatient
  • panicky
  • smug
  • predictable
  • foolish
  • cowardly
  • simple
  • withdrawn
  • cynical
  • cruel
  • boastful
  • weak
  • unethical
  • rash
  • callous
  • humourless

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