This article describes the Johari Window Model, developed by Joseph Luften and Harry Ingham in a practical way. After reading you will understand the definition, meaning and basics of this powerful Communication Skills and coaching tool.
What is the Johari Window Model?
When someone exhibits behaviour that is perceived to be disturbing by their environment, it is good to give them feedback on it. For many, it can be very difficult to confront others on their behaviour. People are not always aware of their own behaviour, or perhaps they are aware of their behaviour, but will not easily admit it. Feedback is a good way to confront someone on their (disturbing) behaviour. The Johari Window Model or Johari’s Window can help with this. It provides insight into the behaviour of yourself and others.
The Johari Window Model was created in 1955 by Joseph Luften and Harry Ingham. The name is derived from the first names of the creators. The Johari Window Model can help people to better understand their communication with others.
The Johari window has four quadrants, that represent four combinations:
1. Open Space: Known to you – Known to others
This Open Space is about the behaviour that is known by you and also seen and acknowledged by others. You can communicate about this. Still, it sometimes happens that there is behaviour that is disturbing to the environment, where someone is aware that it is. It isn’t always easy to acknowledge when someone is confronted about this by someone else. Patience and caution are important when discussing this behaviour with someone.
2. Blind Spot: Unknown to yourself – Known to others
The Blind Spot can be very difficult to manage, and can cause others to talk about you. This is because they can see something that you don’t. Perspiration odour, the frequent use of the same word or continuous pulling of the nose are examples of this. The Blind Spot can also occur in the working environment. Someone can be unaware of the fact that he works slower than his colleagues. Others are aware of this, however, which can cause certain irritations. If feedback is not given properly to another, he will stay stuck in his old behavior and is likely to fall outside the group.
3. Hidden Area: Known to yourself – Unknown to others
In the Hidden Area, people can keep certain information to themselves and not share it with others. The office clerk can keep hidden from his colleagues that in his free time he is a jazz guitarist. The Hidden Area can also be unknown to a limited number of other people. The same office clerk may have a good colleague with whom he does share his hobby, making it a subject for communication. In that case, this Hidden Area slowly shifts to Open Space.
4. Unknown Area: Unknown to yourself – Unknown to others
No communication exists about this Unknown Area. Purely because of the fact that both parties are unaware of it, which means it won’t become the subject of discussion.
Without addressing the behaviour that can cause irritation or annoyance, which may lead to misunderstanding, uneven relationships and a tense atmosphere. Behaviour in the Blind Spot is particularly difficult to discuss with others. Through feedback rules, the message feels less harsh and the recipient won’t feel as attacked. As a result, he is more likely to become aware of his behavior. In addition, good feedback results in mutual understanding, joint agreements and pleasant cooperation.
The basic rule for feedback is to communicate from your own experience; the I-message. As soon as this is left out, the other person can feel particularly attacked. “I noticed that you didn’t get the job done yesterday” goes over better than “you didn’t get the job done yesterday”. Then the other can be asked if this finding is correct and whether he has also noticed the same. Throughout the conversation, the I-message is crucial. When the other person is aware (and, as it were, he shifts from a Blind Spot to an Open Space), the time is right to look at possible solutions together. Giving compliments also helps to keep the atmosphere pleasant: “I’m happy that you also noticed it and I’m curious to hear if you have an idea on how to prevent this in the future”. Talking to each other leads to good ideas that are acceptable to the person being addressed and that make him feel comfortable. The Open Space is now complete and the issue can be openly discussed.
Despite the Johari Window Model being a basis for clear information, this does not, of course, mean that everything needs to be discussed publicly. Even when information is in the Open Space, this can also be confidential information that does not need to be made public. In that case, it is about information that can or cannot be made public. Even in the example of the office clerk who plays jazz guitar in his free time, it is possible that he told his colleague this in confidence. He may have asked his colleague not to share this with their other colleagues. He can have various reasons for doing so, such as privacy, shame, not wanting to share, etc.
The Johari Window Model is useful to gain insight into your behaviour and that of others. It provides you with information about the relationships with others and gives you the opportunity to improve yourself. By broadening the Open Space and being continuously aware of this, the mutual trust with others will only increase. The Blind Spot and Hidden Space are shrinking if there is more knowledge of each other and one is going to discuss matters in an open way. The Johari Window Model is very effective and can, among others, be used for small conflicts, negotiations or lack of understanding towards each other. By openly asking questions and engaging with each other, the various parties can discover what the underlying ideas, opinions and motives were that led to this behaviour. The Blind Spot moves to an Open Space and people will have increased respect for each other’s opinions.
Now it’s Your Turn
What do you think? Is the Johari Window Model applicable in your daily work? What is your experience with Feedback and Behaviour techniques? Do you recognize the practical explanation or do you have more additions? What are your success factors for giving and receiving Feedback in relation to certain behaviour?
Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
- Luft, J., & Ingham, H. (1961). The johari window. Human Relations Training News, 5(1), 6-7.
- Luft, J., & Ingham, H. (1961). The Johari Window: a graphic model of awareness in interpersonal relations. Human relations training news, 5(9), 6-7.
- Smith, R. E., Carraher, E., & DeLisle, P. Johari Window Model. Leading Collaborative Architectural Practice, 221-224.
- Verklan, M. T. (2007). Johari Window: a model for communicating to each other. The Journal of perinatal & neonatal nursing, 21(2), 173-174.
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