Many months ago a colleague told me about the Johari Window. It was an idea I had never heard of, but the concept keeps coming back into my thoughts. If you are not familiar with the Johari Window, think of it as a communication model shown with a grid with four boxes. The top left is our open area, it is the part of ourselves that both we and others see. The top right is our blind spot, it is what others see, but we are not aware of. The bottom left box, is the hidden area, it is only what we see. The bottom right box is the unknown, of which we have not learned, and others cannot see. I have seen these shown or described in different orders, but the gist is still the same.
The area that I am most interested in is our blind spots. This is the quadrant we can learn most about ourselves because we have the option of feedback from others. In teams where trust has been earned and communication is open, sharing feedback can be a constructive way to help others see their blind spots. An example: let’s say that a member of your team always cuts others off (I am sure I am an offender on that from time to time), and it is frustrating to everyone on the team. Cutting others off falls into their “blind spot” quadrant, if they have no idea they do it. If other members of the team share their frustration and constructive feedback, it could lead to helpful team dynamics going forward. It would mean they have opened this individual’s blind spot.
The idea of the Johari Window as a model of communication is that we constantly move between the different quadrants. If I share something new about myself, I have moved that information and insight about myself from my hidden area to my open area. If my team has taught me about a blind spot, it has been moved to my open area. Many of the things that might fall into a blind spot have to do with body language, mannerisms, style, and tone. This model helps to encourage feedback, so that individuals can know how their behavior impacts others. It is then their choice to work on it, or leave things untouched.
Ready to learn about your blind spots?