Relationship-Building Through the Johari Window

The older I get the more I realize that while achievement and travels and doing things are fun, more important are the relationships we develop — with family (most important), friends, business partners, and other workers.

A proven tool for further developing relationships is called the Johari Window, developed in the 1950s by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham. 

It was developed to use in the workplace in team development and conflict resolution. And it is a very effective tool for that. But it can also be used for developing relationships with family members and within your social network, as well for improving self-awareness. 

The Johari Window model looks like this:

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To summarize, Window 1, the Open Area, are things about ourselves of which we and others are are both aware. Window 2, the Blind Spot, consists of things about us that others are aware of but we are not. Window 3, the Hidden Area, are things about ourselves that we are aware of but others are not. Maybe we are hiding these things, or maybe we just haven’t revealed them to others. Window 4, the Unknown Area, are things about ourselves of which neither we nor others are aware.

The key to building relationships is to create a larger Open Area by reducing the Blind Area and the Hidden Area. The fact is, the more we know about ourselves and the more people know about us, the stronger our relationships will be.

In Area 2 there are things people know about us that we don’t realize — like a habit that might irritate some people. We can reduce this area by soliciting feedback from others in an open conversation. You might even find that you have a strength that you didn’t know about.

In Area 3 there are the things we might like keeping from others for various reasons — sometimes rationally and sometimes not so. These are the insecurities, the embarrassments, the bad experiences. Often, exposing theses things creates a stronger feeling of trust, a better understanding of each other, a more open relationship. What you are willing to disclose is, of course, up to you.

In Area 4 there are the unknowns. Maybe a hidden ability or talent that you haven’t had an opportunity to develop (or haven’t been willing to step up to develop). I could be an unknown illness or conditioned behaviors.

We can develop these skills and talents by stepping out of our comfort zone. Just like regular check-ups with the doctor will reveal any illnesses, giving yourself a chance to fail or succeed at something how will give you a chance to uncover those hidden talents.

Being more self aware, having more open relationships, exploring the unknown, all can lead to more exciting and fruitful lives. Check out your Windows. What do you see?

Published on May 10th, 2014 in Blog

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