One way to examine our interpersonal communication and relationships is with the Johari Window. The Johari Window is a cognitive psychological tool developed by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham. It is exemplified much like window panes connected with four intersecting quadrants.
Any data that moves from the Blind Spot &/or Mystery (i.e. Unknown to Self) windows into your Open &/or Hidden (i.e. Known to Self) windows would indicate increased self-knowledge – or personal growth. That information makes those window panes larger, which is the goal for personal and professional growth. Building self-awareness is the No. 1 skill for improving your Emotional Intelligence (EQ). EQ is at the heart of cultivating relationships; business is relationships.
The Open window is what is known by others and what you know about yourself. This is what you are willing to share with others. Examples could be information you disclose in a bio.
The Hidden window is what is not known by others, yet what you know about yourself. This is what you are consciously and deliberately trying to hide from others. Examples include relationships, habits, the past, prejudices, etc. Self-disclosure decreases the size of the Hidden window and increases the size of the Open window. This can result in improved interpersonal relationships because the vulnerability you share often creates perception that you are real/human. Demonstrate that you’ve faced adversity and have overcome it, or that you continue to champion the challenge. The more authentic you are with others in disclosing your whole self, the more likely they are to trust you, understand you, and value your relationship. Organizationally, off-site retreats are often designed to broaden this window. It takes risk to open and build trust with others, and many fear that the disclosure will backfire as judgment and/or a misperception of weakness. This is always a risk.
The Blind Spot window is what is known by others, yet not known to you about yourself. These are messages we unconsciously hide from ourselves, yet they are communicated to others. We learn about these pieces of information when someone offers the “gift” of feedback (however, well or poorly wrapped). This window is expanded organizationally through the proper usage of 360’s, 1:1’s (i.e. one-on-one’s), and coaching. Receiving feedback can help you move from a Blind Spot window to an Open window.
The Mystery (Unknown) window is what is not known by others and what is not known by you about yourself. These are things in our unconscious that we conceal from ourselves. This concealment is often for a reason: we aren’t ready to accept them, and we are not ready to change, so we don’t think about them. This information can be surfaced through counseling, group therapy, or dreams. Examples include a desire for adventure, “hidden talents,” release of sublimated emotions that contribute to addictions and/or other fears, discovering your purpose in life, etc.
Get out the Windex!
Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of a virtual consultancy of OD experts, CLG. Visit us at CorporateLookingGlass.com.
© Rossina Gil, 2014