Opening the Johari Window

I was giving a seminar at the Academy of Learning on Friday, and I ended up learning as much as the recipients who listened to my presentation. The Johari Window is a great tool to learn more effective communication.

johari windowWhen working with the Johari Window, the goal for most people is to move the pane to enlarge the open panel and shrink the Blind spot, Facade (also known as the Hidden area), and the Unknown area.

The reason being: the more open we are to others, the better we will be able to communicate. The less we hide from others, and the less that is hidden from us, the better we will be able to communicate with others.

With the Johari Window, it is very important to understand that the window panes should only move in symmetrical movements. So, if you want to enlarge the open area, you need to do two things:

1. Shrink the blind spot by asking for feedback from others.
2. Tell others more about you through self-disclosure to others.

johari windowMerely sharing information about yourself is not enough to open that window and start a better flow of communication. You should also ask others about what they know and what they feel. Opening the blind area of the window is sometimes the most difficult thing to do; this opens us up to a risk of humiliation and allows others to share judgments of us and how we are perceived. If you can embrace this skill and invite feedback from others honestly and without fear, you will not only be able to open this pane of the Johari Window, but you will open a whole world of possibilities as well.

When we allow ourselves to communicate openly and freely to and from others, we are building relationships that can help us accomplish anything. All too often, managers share too much and ask very little, or managers ask a lot and share nothing. This is not an effective way to communicate with others.

So, here are a few tips to stay in balance and help build effective communication with others.

    1. Ask for Feedback – Let others know you care about what they think. Make sure they understand you, do not think you know it all. Their opinion counts; therefore, make sure they know you are relying on there opinion.
    2. Self-Disclosure – Share things about yourself with others. Make sure people around you know what you think, so they can come to understand you. If you take for granted that people understand what you are thinking, you will be disappointed.
    3. Others’ Observations – You do not have to agree with others to understand and respect what they are saying and feeling. When you can have a true understanding of how others perceive you and things around you, then you have the real opportunity to affect change around you.
    4. Self-Discovery – As you share things with others, this is the perfect time for you to find out more about yourself. Work on self-discovery, find out more about yourself, and share this with others. As you share more about yourself, space will open to also learn more about yourself.
    5. Shared Discovery – Work on things together as a team. Even if you are a manager, you can work with your team on an even playing field and come up with answers together.

Use the Johari Window in any way that is meaningful to you. Remember, effective communication is up to you and no one else. If we want to become more effective communicators, we need to take 100% responsibility for it. As we do this, effective communication becomes easier every day. As we gain more from this open communication, the Johari Window will only motivate us to do it more and become better communication experts.

Image one was obtained from: http://www.simply-communicate.com/magazine/
Image two was obtained from: http://hsc.uwe.ac.uk/net/mentor/Default.aspx?pageid=121

Steve Whiteside is a consultant specializing in organizational development, leadership and motivational workshops. You can contact him at, 604-786-5677.