The Johari window model was created in 1955 by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham to help individuals better understand themselves. The word “Johari” is a combination of the first names of each inventor. The Johari window model is a self-awareness tool used to improve relationships with others.
Understanding the Johari window model
A core premise of the model is that our interactions with others are ultimately shaped by:
- How we see ourselves, and
- How we are perceived by others.
If both views are aligned, then the interaction is more likely to be effective and engaging.
The four panes of the Johari window
Alignment can be assessed by populating a matrix with four cells, commonly referred to as the four panes of a Johari window.
Each pane helps the individual evaluate the degree of alignment (or disparity) in their interactions with others.
Let’s look at each pane:
- Open area (known to self, known to others) – this area contains well-known information that most individuals are happy to talk about. It encompasses skills, values, experience, personality, values, and feelings.
- Blind area (not known to self, known to others) – or things that people know about us that we are unaware of. Information is often withheld for fear of hurting feelings or starting an argument. In a business context, this area includes blind spots that are crucial for professional development. They can be both positive and negative traits.
- Hidden area (known to self, not known to others) – commonly referring to information that the individual chooses not to disclose. These may include fears or ambitions that are withheld for fear of reprisal or judgment.
- Unknown area (not known to self, not known to others) – as the name suggests, this is information unknown to either party. It may relate to talents or abilities that, through a lack of opportunity or confidence, have not yet been discovered.
Creating a Johari window for individuals
Creating a Johari window involves self-reflection and as such, the insights gleaned may be uncomfortable for some.
But it need not be a daunting process. Here is how you can use a Johari window to accelerate self-improvement:
- Choose a group of trusted peers. This may be a group of people who know you intimately. In business, it may simply be members of your team.
- Select your Johari words, otherwise known as Johari adjectives. Many teams choose to use a preselected list of 56 terms that include such descriptors as brave, confident, energetic, intelligent, shy, wise, warm, trustworthy, mature, quiet, proud, or idealistic. Teams can choose to use their own adjectives so long as there is a large and varied group to choose from. Then, select 5-10 words you believe best describe your personality.
- Ask each member of the group of peers to then select 5-10 adjectives.
- Place words selected by both you and others in the “open” pane. Place words only selected by yourself in the “hidden” pane.
- Place words that were selected by peers but not selected by you in the “blind” pane. All remaining words should be placed in the “unknown” pane.
- Evaluate the results. How much overlap is there between how you see yourself and how others perceive you? Whatever the results, the goal must be to increase the size of the “open” pane relative to the others.
- The Johari window model is a self-awareness tool that seeks to bridge the gap between how the individual perceives themselves and how others perceive them.
- The Johari window model is named after a matrix, or window, with four panes. Each pane is called an area, representing varying degrees of alignment or disparity in perception.
- The Johari window model can be a daunting process for those not accustomed to detailed self-awareness. But by focusing efforts in the right areas, the model can be a very effective tool for self-improvement.
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