There are times when coaching or facilitating workshops I cross paths with people who are either extremely reserved, or very self-contained and very confident. Within a team setting these people can feel isolated and brush off their lack of connection as the fault of their colleagues. At times what starts as a lack of engagement can deteriorate into hostility. I often turn to the Johari Window in these moments. Using it in a coaching setting offers a simple framework to examine situations and relationships, strength by strength. And it works really well with CliftonStrengths.
About the Johari Window
Of all the tools to grow self-awareness and interpersonal communication, the Johari Window stands as perhaps the most powerful and insightful tool. Developed by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955, this model helps individuals better understand themselves and strategies to enhance their relationships with others. Named after its creators the Johari Window sheds light on the dynamics of personal awareness and disclosure, leading to improved communication and collaboration among individuals and groups.
Understanding the Johari Window
The Johari Window is one of those wonderful four-quadrant frameworks, representing different aspects of an individual’s information or characteristics. These aspects are classified based on two fundamental dimensions how you see yourself and how others see you, and indeed, what they actually know about you.
The window is divided into four areas or quadrants:
- Open Area or public zone (Known to Self and Known to Others): This quadrant represents the characteristics, feelings, attitudes, and behaviours that an individual is fully aware of, and others are also aware of them. This zone encourages open communication and transparency, promoting trust and understanding in relationships.
- Blindspot Zone (Unknown to Self and Known to Others): In this section, others can observe aspects of an individual’s personality or behaviour that the person is unaware of. These traits might include habits, reactions, or patterns that escape self-recognition. Constructive feedback and active listening are vital in reducing the blind spot and improving self-awareness.
- Private Zone (Known to Self and Unknown to Others): The hidden quadrant comprises feelings, experiences, or information that an individual consciously chooses to keep private from others. This zone highlights the importance of self-disclosure and trust in cultivating deeper connections with others.
- Unknown Zone (Unknown to Self and Unknown to Others): The unknown area represents the untapped potential, undiscovered talents, or latent aspects that neither the individual nor others are aware of. Exploring this domain involves stepping out of comfort zones, seeking new experiences, and embracing personal growth.
Applying the Johari Window for Personal Growth
The value of the Johari Window is to reduce communication and collaboration barriers. These barriers can develop slowly over time, or spring up as soon as two people meet. The behaviours that cause these barriers may be unconscious by the perpetrator, and yet result in feeling bullied, harassed, or put upon. The Full 34 CliftonStrengths report is exceptionally useful, because for your Top Ten two blindspots are outlined for each. Typically it is these blindspots that either alone, or most likely, in combination with others, responsible for behaviours that ruffle the feathers of others in a team or partnership, or undermine or undervalue certain other strengths.
Step 1 Expanding the Public Profile using CliftonStrengths
When an individual is extremely shy or private, their public profile might be limited to a short LinkedIn profile and no social media presence. More socially confident individuals might restrict what they share because they have the Relator® CliftonStrengths close to the top of their profile. Strategies to share CliftonStrengths, in a workshop, on email footers, in meetings, can start to build open and honest communication with others. By actively sharing thoughts, emotions, and experiences, individuals can create an environment of mutual understanding, building stronger and healthier relationships. As a person’s vocabulary grows they can gain confidence in their value to the team, company, and wider world.
Step 2 Reducing the Blind Area
Our blindspots, are behaviours, or tendencies, to do or say things that we are unaware of, and yet everyone we come into contact with is possibly very aware of them. This maybe for good, or bad. It can be affirming to hear about the positive blindspots. And when you are more aware of them, you can invest effort in really owning that characteristic. But sometimes, for example someone with CliftonStrength Communication® high might too often in meetings rarely draw breath or think. They can deprive others of the opportunity to contribute.
Reducing your blindspot zone, starts by inviting others to reflect on your impact on themselves, or others, and enables your public profile to grow. Sometimes doing this with the support of a coach makes it easier. The important point is to invite feedback from others and be receptive to constructive criticism. By addressing blind spots, individuals can learn more about themselves and make positive changes in their behaviour and interactions. Start with each CliftonStrength in turn, notice when you are using each, what it feels like, and times when it’s in ‘overdrive’.
Step 3 Exploring the Private Zone
Your Private Profile is known to you, and unknown to others. It’s like keeping your greatest talent under cover. While some of us wear all of our flaws on our sleeves, and count them one by one, we mostly feel awkward talking about our greatest talents. We feel embarrassed, for fear of being considered egotistical. Gradually revealing aspects of yourself to others is based on trust and intimacy. This step fosters vulnerability and encourages reciprocal self-disclosure, leading to deeper connections in personal and professional relationships. Share your greatest talents with your world.
Step 4 Embracing your Unknown Zone
Embracing uncertainty as an opportunity for personal growth can feel risky, but only to you! Engage in new experiences, learn from failures, and push personal boundaries. As you expand your horizons, through meeting new people, reading, indulging in new experiences, you will uncover hidden talents and potential. If your unknown Zone is large, yourself-awareness is low and your potential unlimited. It’s likely that before your took your CliftonStrengths this dominated your Johari Window.
Why use the Johari Window
This simple model can be your guide and self-reflection tool to dip into so you can realise your unique power through:
- Improved Self-Awareness: The model encourages individuals to gain a better understanding of themselves by examining their thoughts, feelings, and actions.
- Enhanced Communication: By promoting open and honest dialogue, the Johari Window helps in resolving conflicts and misunderstandings, leading to improved communication within teams and groups.
- Strengthened Relationships: Building trust and empathy through self-disclosure and feedback fosters deeper and more meaningful connections with others.
- Personal Growth: The Johari Window challenges individuals to explore their unknown areas, pushing them to grow and evolve beyond their current limitations.
The Johari Window is a valuable tool that empowers individuals to better understand themselves and their interactions with others. By encouraging self-awareness, promoting open communication, and fostering personal growth, this model can significantly enrich personal and professional relationships. Embracing the insights offered by the Johari Window can lead individuals on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment, ultimately leading to a more fulfilling and harmonious life. Using it with a peer , manager, or coach will be your biggest investment in you.