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.
- Pick out five to ten adjectives to describe yourself (see Wikipedia example below)
- Share the list of adjectives with your network and ask them to pick 5 to 10 adjectives to describe you.
- 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.
Image by Steven Ford, Flickr, Creative Commons License.