This guide outlines how to use the Johari Window Model, the four areas and what they mean, and exercises for each area to improve self-awareness and communication.
Many people perceive themselves completely differently than some of their fellow human beings. The reason for this is that our perception of ourselves and others often do not overlap. After all, who doesn’t think they know themselves best? Who could know you better than you do? But why is it that nobody in your environment notices that you have certain properties that make you a real piece of gold?
Many people feel misunderstood in such a situation and believe that the environment does not recognize who they really are, what it is that makes them deep inside. But instead of sinking into ruminations about it, you can easily find out what the perception of yourself and others is all about. We will show you how you can harmonize the perception of yourself and that of others as closely as possible.
What is the Johari Window Model?
The so-called Johari Window is a method with which you can learn a lot about yourself. Conscious and unconscious personality traits, behaviors and properties are the focus of the Johari window. It shows how much the perception of self and that of others differs, but also where they overlap.
The American social psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham developed this model back in the 1950s. The name of the method is also derived from the two first names. Josef and Harry became Johari.
Using a grid with four windows, the Johari window records what we (can) know about ourselves and what others can know about us. An interesting experience that helps improve mutual understanding and communication . The stimuli for thought are in the windows
The “unknown” field, for example, is unknown to both yourself and others, the “blind spot” is unknown to you, but is well known to others.
This makes it easy to see how things are perceived by oneself and others. The Johari window is particularly popular in teams to build more trust and thus improve collaboration. In principle, the following applies: Those who are aware of their effect on others develop a greater understanding of the behavior of their colleagues.
If the self-image and the external image converge, this improves and simplifies interpersonal communication. This model is also used for communication problems in companies or groups in order to understand them and, at best, to solve them in a progressive group process.
The 56 Johari Window adjectives
Originally, the implementation of the Johari Window Method is based on 56 Johari adjectives, i.e. 56 terms that are suitable for describing a person. Each participant selects five or six adjectives from the list that match the person for whom an analysis is being made. Finally, the adjectives are placed in the respective Johari windows by everyone.
- Empathetic (used for stressing)
- Extroverted (sociable person)
- Ingenious (frank, artless)
- Self-assertive (interested mainly in oneself)
- Sensible Sensible
The 4 areas in the Johari Window model
The individual windows deal with four different topics of perception, which we want to go into here.
The field “open” or “public” stands for everything that a person carries outwardly, what everyone can see, such as appearance, manners, ambition or internal attitudes such as ethical values (e.g. animal lover) or interests (e.g. membership in a club).
This area is, so to speak, the tip of the iceberg, the “smallest” area in terms of the correspondence between self-perception and perception of others, because the unconscious factors are decisive for relationships between people. The biggest pitfalls in terms of communication and understanding lie in the areas of “secret”, “blind spot” and “unknown”. It all sounds very similar, but it is differentiated.
Examples for the open area:
- Quickly an impatient attitude when waiting
- Constantly helpful and accommodating towards fellow human beings
- Have a suitable joke or saying ready for every conversation and loosen up the mood
“Hidden” stands for everything that someone knows and knows, but which he does not make available to others, be it unknowingly or because he deliberately hides it from others. How big the “secret” area is with you depends on how well you trust your surroundings and accordingly give yourself away. This can be personal secrets and private information, but also political or religious orientations.
Examples of the hidden area:
- Stage fright before presentations for fear of saying the wrong thing
- Afraid of making phone calls with a stranger
- Skilled for manual activities
“Blind” includes everything that the person concerned sends out and what is also perceived by those around him, but what the person concerned is not even aware of. Here, feedback from others helps to move information from the “blind spot” to the “public” area.
Examples of the blind area:
- An introverted demeanor in groups
- Reliability for tasks
- Act calmly in stressful or unexpected situations
“Unknown” is everything that is not known to either the person concerned or his teammates. These can be hidden talents and gifts, for example, but also traumatic experiences. The reasons for the corresponding action are unclear.
Examples for the unknown area:
- Musical talent for new instruments
- Automatic tension when driving a car (e.g. a car accident in childhood)
- Nervousness about unexpected questions (you want to be in control)
How do you use the Johari window for personal growth?
In addition to the knowledge gained from playing with adjectives, the Johari window method can be used for individual personal growth, but also lead to further development in a team. Depending on what your goals are, you can simply change the size of the windows you want and focus the spot more on the area in question. For example, if you want to improve cooperation in a team or in a group, you focus on the area of ”public”.
If this area is given special treatment, it depends on honesty, openness and authenticity. The person concerned should show himself for who he is, without pretending to be, without wanting to please. The person concerned derives the greatest benefit from this, whose self-perception and external perception in this area are put to the test if he is not afraid to question his self-image and to accept suggestions that come from his environment.
That requires a lot of openness and self-confidence. But the new perspective of the external perception is also an opportunity to question oneself and possibly also to admit that there could be something to the perception of the environment. There is a lot of potential in this for further development and better cooperation in the team or in the family.
Johari Window exercise categories
The Johari window method can also be used very well for personal development. Only then is it possible to discard bad qualities or use other skills. The aim should be to keep expanding the public area:
Exercises for the open area
You might think that if others and you already know the properties, there is no reason to change. But that is exactly the wrong approach. Regularly and honestly reflect on your actions. You can also ask colleagues, friends or family for feedback. You should make sure that you do not pretend to be someone else.
Exercises for the hidden area
Try an exercise on the field of “personal secrets”. You don’t have to hide anything from an environment if you trust that environment. Share what you are hiding and you may feel better afterwards. This method is particularly suitable in families and with very good friends, but also in teams that work very closely together. If you bring up what you are hiding, you can also find solutions or get help that you did not expect.
Blind spot exercises
And the “blind spot”? To keep it as small as possible, it is necessary to receive regular feedback or to actively request it. It is about an honest assessment of yourself. Contacts would be friends or family, for example. It is crucial that you receive open feedback and that you can trust the feedback giver to not flatter you, but to honestly help you advance.
Exercises for the unknown area
If you want to do exercises to undiscovered things, it is much more difficult, because the point is to train what you do not yet know. Open up to new topics, attend events and lectures and read about areas in which you have not yet been interested. Try something new, learn an instrument or enroll in a course to find out what talent has been under your radar so far. In psychotherapy, too, you can come across things that you were previously unaware of. For the “undiscovered” you have to break out of the routine more often and jump over your shadow – an exciting journey.