Have you ever found yourself in the nerve-wracking scenario of delivering a business presentation to a room full of people? If so, you’re no stranger to the jitters and the occasional audience indifference. Little do most people realize, all the nuances of effective communication can be distilled into a remarkably simple concept.
In this blog post, we’ll delve into the Johari Window Model and its four distinct quadrants. This psychological model offers profound insights into how we can foster deeper connections through our communication.
At its core, this model revolves around the concept of self awareness, both from your perspective as the communicator and from that of your audience. It elegantly defines the “where” of information within the context of communication involving two or more individuals.
The Johari Window is a tool that helps you get to know yourself better and see how others view you. It was created by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham back in 1955 as part of their research on how people work together in groups. Interestingly, the name ‘Johari’ comes from a mix of their first names.
To use it, you and your colleagues pick a few words that describe you from a list. Then, you put these words on a chart with four sections. This chart looks a bit like a window with four panes, which is why it’s called the ‘Johari Window.’ Some people call it the ‘Johari House’ with four rooms.
By doing this, you can figure out which qualities both you and your colleagues agree you have, which ones they see but you might not realize, and which ones you see but they don’t. It might feel a bit vulnerable, like looking at yourself through a magnifying glass, but the Johari Window can help you:
- Understand how your co-workers see you
- Build better relationships with a shared understanding
- Approach conversations and interactions with more insight
- Work on your blind spots or any negative qualities
- Learn to accept feedback, even when it’s not easy to hear
- Building Trust: It helps in building trust by sharing information about yourself.
- Enhancing Self-Awareness: It helps you understand yourself better by comparing your self-perception with how others see you.
- Improving Communication: It improves communication and relationships within your team or group.
In this quadrant, you’ll find adjectives that both you and your colleagues have chosen to describe you. It’s like the part of the window that is wide open, where you and your team see eye to eye on the qualities that define you. Ideally, this area is filled with many words, indicating a strong alignment between your self-perception and how others perceive you.
The hidden area contains adjectives that you have chosen to describe yourself but haven’t been selected by your colleagues. These words represent qualities that you see in yourself, but others might not be fully aware of. To improve communication, it’s a good idea to bring more attention to this area. For example, if you see yourself as a “listener,” but your colleagues don’t recognize this, you might want to create more opportunities for others to share their thoughts in meetings.
The blind spot consists of adjectives that your colleagues have selected to describe you, but you haven’t chosen them for yourself. These are qualities that others see in you, but you may not be aware of. If there are terms here that you’d rather not be associated with, you can work on addressing them and demonstrating the characteristics you prefer. For instance, if your colleagues describe you as “idealistic,” you might want to provide more data and evidence to support your decisions and suggestions. On the other hand, if there are terms in the blind spot that you wish to embody but feel you currently lack, use it as motivation to develop those qualities.
The unknown area contains adjectives that weren’t selected at all, either by you or your colleagues. These are qualities that haven’t come to light in your self-awareness or in the perceptions of others. If there are qualities here that you aspire to embody, identify them and explore ways to work on developing them further.
The Johari Window offers a valuable framework for improving self-awareness and enhancing communication within teams and relationships.
Your primary objective when using the Johari Window is to expand your Open Area. Here’s how to go about it:
- Take a look at the list of characteristics in Figure number 2.
- Choose the words that you believe best describe you.
- Ask one or more of your colleagues to select the adjectives they think suit you.
Create a Johari Window diagram and fill in the quadrants as follows:
- Open Area: List the adjectives chosen by both you and your colleagues.
- Hidden Area: Include the adjectives that only you chose.
- Blind Area: Include the adjectives that only your colleagues chose.
- Unknown Area: Write down adjectives that none of you chose, but that you’re prompted to consider as your self-awareness increases.
- Review your completed Johari Window and consider how you can expand your Open Area while reducing the other quadrants.
- For example, if you tend to be secretive, you might aim to decrease the size of your Hidden Area.
- If you’re surprised by your colleagues’ perceptions of you, you can work to minimize your Blind Area.
- To shrink your Hidden and Unknown areas, you’ll need to be more open about yourself.
- Self-disclosure involves sharing your thoughts, feelings, and opinions with others.
- The more you share, the more your Open Area expands upward, and your Hidden Area shrinks, which can build trust.
- To minimize your Blind and Unknown areas, actively seek and accept feedback.
- While it might seem daunting, discovering new things about yourself can be empowering and enjoyable.
- When others provide feedback, and you’re receptive to it, your Open Area grows horizontally, and your Blind Area diminishes.
- If the size of your Unknown Area is a concern, consider stepping out of your comfort zone. Taking on new challenges, pushing your limits, and being open to new experiences can help you, and those around you, discover more about your skills and abilities.
Let’s take a look at a few examples, using some beloved fictional characters, to get a feel for what this exercise looks like in practice.
As mentioned, there are numerous positive benefits that this technique can have for both the individual and the team.
For the individual:
- It can lead to an improvement in self-awareness and personal development.
- It can enhance communication, understanding, and promote inclusion and equality within the team.
- It may also strengthen interpersonal relationships.
In turn, by better understanding the individual, the team can work with them more effectively, helping to bring out their best. This can positively impact the group dynamic, foster further team development, and improve inter-group relationships.
A note of caution is warranted. There are potential drawbacks to using this model. One concern is that some feedback may be perceived as negative by the participant. It’s important to handle such feedback with sensitivity and avoid passing judgment on attributed qualities.
Additionally, there may be personal characteristics that participants prefer to keep private or fear might be disclosed outside the group. It’s crucial not to push participants to reveal more than they’re comfortable with, respecting their boundaries and comfort levels.