During recent corporate training session, I was introduced to Johari Window model which immediately got my attention. I personally like exploring tools that promote self – awareness and help to maximize one’s potential.
What is Johari Window?
Johari Window is a psychological tool that is used to increase self – awareness and understand one’s image as perceived by others within the group. Johari Window is often used for personal development, group development as well as for improving communications, interpersonal relationships, group dynamics and inter-group relationships.
The tool was originally developed in 1955; however, it maintained its relevance throughout the years given that the emphasis of the test is on the “soft skills”, behaviors, empathy, cooperation and intergroup / individual development. Johari Window, often referred to as “’disclosure/feedback model of self-awareness”, is used primarily in self – help groups as well as in corporate settings.
Great supplemental material for Johari Window model is The Self Awareness Diagnostic.
According to the standard representation of Johari Window model, there are four quadrants of the same size: Arena, Façade, Blind spot, and Unknown.
The information that one knows about oneself and is willing to share with others. The “arena” quadrant represents open and free self.
This is the area where people are able to connect and build trust between themselves by disclosing information to others and learning about others from the information they in turn disclose about themselves.
The information one knows about oneself but is unwilling to disclose to others. “Façade” is usually the quadrant representing the hidden and avoided self.
The information that one does not know about self while others have become aware of. “Blind spot” area represents the blind self.
Ignorance as well as lack of self-awareness are typical characteristics of this quadrant which is why it is the most ineffective and unproductive area for the individual and for the group. People with “thick skin” tend to have large blind spots.
Unknown / One’s Potential
The information unknown to the subject as well as the peers. This area represents those behaviors and motives that no one participating recognizes whether due to the fact that such information is irrelevant or due to collective ignorance. This area also represents one’s maximum potential which might be estimated but not known for certain.
Large unknown areas are typically expected in younger people as well as those people who lack experience or self-belief.
Once Johari Window test is complete, one is able to identify the space allocated to each quadrant. Based on the largest quadrant, four personas can be observed:
Open persona is usually both very self – aware (big open self and small blind self) and happy to disclose self to others (small façade). Having small Blind Self, such people make less social errors and take more powerful position in negotiations as they have less weaknesses to be exploited. People with open / free self are comfortable with their self and not at all troubled by having others to see them for who they are. It is worth mentioning that unless one was blessed with a wonderful childhood and grew up well – adjusted from the beginning, developing Open Persona takes much time, effort and even courage.
Naïve persona is usually living from a large Blind Self ‘s perspective. Such people make significant social missteps without realizing the actual effect of their actions. Such people also tend to lack emotional intelligence in order to understand how others perceive them. As a result, such people are not adjusted to reality. They are often considered harmless by others in which case others treat them in kind and patronizing ways or take unkind advantage of their naivety. Alternatively, they can be strongly disliked and feared.
Secret / Arrogant persona tends to operate from a large Private Self. Such people appear secretive since they say very little about themselves. They also tend to be perceived as distant since they tend to spend significant amount of time fully submerged into their own private world. Such introversion is often said to be a result of unresolved trauma.
Mysterious persona is the case when a person is as much of a mystery to oneself and to other people. Mysterious persona knows very little about self whether due to low intelligence, ignorance or simply not being able to connect to self and others.
While the standard representation of the Johari Window model depicts four equal size quadrants, the objective of the tool is to expand the Open (Arena) square at the expense of both the Unknown square and the Blind Spot square, resulting in greater knowledge of oneself, while voluntary disclosure of Façade square may result in greater interpersonal intimacy and friendship.
Blind spot area is the most ineffective area since it is typically comprised of lack of self-awareness, ignorance, feedback that others deliberately withhold from a person / team. With the help of feedback from others, one is able to become aware of some positive and negative traits as perceived by others. One is also able to overcome some of the personal issues that may be inhibiting personal growth or group dynamics within the team.
The challenge associate with decreasing the Façade area is that it usually includes one’s sensitivities, fears, hidden agendas, manipulative intentions, secrets, etc. It is absolutely natural for very personal information to remain private; however, a lot of information presented in a Façade area is not very personal but rather work or performance – related which makes it more fit for the Arena quadrant. Also, relevant private information should be disclosed to the respective group, thereby increasing the open area. Self – disclosure and communication of relevant information to the team enables better understanding, cooperation, trust, and productivity. It also reduces the potential for confusion, misunderstanding, poor communication, etc. Why do people choose to maintain the façade area? The fear of judgment or vulnerability are often the reasons for people withholding the relevant information which reinforces the importance of trust and constructive communication within a group.
The Unknown area can include wide variety of feelings, behaviors, attitudes and aptitudes that are close to the surface or are deeper aspects of ones’ personality. The processes by which the previously unknown information can be uncovered are various. For example, within the context of talent development, one is able to discover new abilities when engaged in new activities without great pressure to succeed. When working with deeper aspects of one’s personality, the process of self-discovery might include counselling work aimed to uncover unknown issues (conditioned behaviors / attitudes from childhood, repressed / subconscious feelings, fear / aversion that the person does know yet, natural abilities / aptitudes that the person did not yet realize, etc). Whether unknown ‘discovered’ knowledge moves into the hidden, blind or open area depends on who discovers it and what they do with the knowledge (whether it is then given as feedback or disclosed). Striving to discover the information and feelings in the unknown is related to the process of “self-actualization” as described in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs development and motivation model. If the team creates a culture, climate and expectation for self – discovery, one is able to realize own potential more, achieve more and contribute more to team’s performance.
Overall, as a person and / or a team increases the open area (Arena), a person and / or a team become more mature. As one is able to enlarge the Arena, one is able to express self freely and realize own potential to higher degree. At the same time, as the Arena grows, the communication improves within a team as well leading to less energy being spent on internal issues and clarification of misunderstandings. As a result, mature team is able to devote more effort to external goals and productive output.