One of the keys to effectiveness is to know and show yourself enough. If you know yourself well enough, you can share relevant information to improve communication and connect with others. One tool to help you with this is the Johari Window. I first learned about the Johari Window in one of my leadership training sessions and it piqued my interest. It’s a simple model for interpersonal awareness. If you’ve ever struggled with TMI (too much information) or self-disclosure, the Johari Window is your friend. The Johari Window was originally created by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955 as a tool to help people understand their interpersonal communication and relationships.
The Johari Window
The Johari Windows is made of four regions or quadrants:
- Open Self – What others know about you and you know too..
- Blind Self – What others know about you, but you don’t.
- Hidden Self – What others don’t know about you, but you do. It’s your secrets.
- Unknown Self – What others don’t know about you and you don’t either.
Self-Awareness and Self-Disclosure
Showing people who you are requires self-awareness and self-disclosure. The Johari Window is effectively a lens on your own self-awareness as well as a lens on self-disclosure. You can think of your self-awareness and self-disclosure as slider bars and the Johari Window can help you figure out where your slider bars are at.
You can use the Johari Window to help you with the following scenarios:
- Understanding how you communicate with yourself and others.
- Understanding how you present yourself to yourself and others.
- Understanding how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you.
- Understanding actions vs. motivations.
Reducing Your Blind Spots and Increasing the Open Area
The best communication happens when the Arena is biggest:
The more you know about yourself and the more other people know about you, the more you can communicate on the same wavelength. By asking for feedback you can simultaneously reduce your Blind Spot while increasing the amount and quality of information you can share in the Arena.
New Team Member Scenario
You can imagine that a new team member scenario might look like this:
There hasn’t been a lot of exchange yet. Since others don’t know much about the new team member yet, the Blind Spot is small. On the flip side, the others don’t know much about the hidden or avoided issues, so the Facade area is large.
Existing Team Member Scenario
You can imagine that an established team member scenario might look like this:
There’s been a lot of exchange. Since others know more about the established team member, the Facade area is smaller. Also, since the established team member has received feedback, their Blind Spot is smaller.
Johari Window Exercise
This is an example of an exercise you can do with the Johari Window in a group or team. The purpose is to share more information and reduce blind spots. The key steps are:
- The subject is given a list of 55 adjectives and you pick 5 or 6 that they think describes their personality.
- Peers are given the same list and they each pick 5 or 6 adjectives they think describe the subject.
- You arrange the adjectives on the Johari Window based on awareness.
Here’s a summary of how to place the adjectives::
- Arena – Adjectives selective by participant and peers are placed in Arena.
- Facade – Adjectives selected by participant only are placed in Facade.
- Blind Spot – Adjectives selected by peers only are placed in Blind Spot.
- Unknown – Adjectives not selected by anybody are placed in unknown.
Here’s a list of the positive adjectives commonly used in the Johari Window exercise (of course there are negative ones as well):
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