If someone asks you whether you really know yourself, probably the answer would be, “Of course, I do!”.

But do you really? We may not know ourselves as much as we think we do. It is important to increase our self-awareness and improve how we relate with others in life.

What does it take to be authentic, charismatic and trustworthy? This can only be achieved by an effort to get to know oneself and there is a tool to help us do just that − the Johari Window.

Designed to help people better understand their relationship with themselves and others, the Johari Window is a technique which was created by psychologists Joseph Luft (1916–2014) and Harrington Ingham (1916–1995) in 1955, and is used primarily in self-help groups but is also useful on an individual level. Luft and Ingham named their model ‘Johari’ using a combination of their first names.

The Johari Window consists of four quadrants in which are placed qualities or traits of our personality. The difference of each window lies in whether we are aware of these traits or not – or whether they are noticed by others but not by us.

Philosopher Charles Handy calls this concept the ‘Johari House with four rooms’. Room one is the part of ourselves that we and others see. Room two contains aspects that others see but we are unaware of. Room three is the private space we know but hide from others. Room four is the unconscious part of us that neither ourselves nor others see.

In the first quadrant, known as the ‘arena’ (open self), we place personality traits that both us and others know of – ‘I know, you know’. Such things can be our job, nationality or our affinity to animals.

In the second quadrant there is the ‘hidden façade’ (hidden self) which includes fears, hopes or dreams that are only known to ourselves – ‘I know but you don’t’. Here, one needs to question whether sharing the fears, hopes or dreams with trusted others is beneficial for a healthy outcome. It can show a state of depression or anxiety which a therapist may help to sort out.

It is a model of interpersonal awareness

The third quadrant is known as the ‘blind window’ (blind self), where others know something about us that we are unaware of – ‘I don’t know, but you do’. Here friends can help us mature by giving us feedback on what they note about us that we are not aware of. These can be not only weaknesses, but also strengths. A friend can note a tendency in us to interrupt conversations or note that we are good at organising events.

Awareness is the key for shifting areas in the quadrants to the arena area. Openness and authenticity can help improve our personality.

The fourth quadrant is where the ‘unknown wisdom’ (mystery Self) lies – ‘I don’t know, you don’t know’. In this case, we discover strengths or weaknesses that neither us nor others knew we have, usually through experiences, and so once these are revealed, they are moved to the arena area too.

One therapeutic target may be the expansion of the open (arena) square at the expense of both the unknown square and the blind spot square, resulting in greater knowledge of ourselves, while voluntary disclosure of traits in the private (hidden or façade) squares may result in greater interpersonal intimacy and friendship.

The goals of the Johari Window model are twofold: a) to increase the size of the open area (arena), without disclosing too much personal information about ourselves; and b) to decrease the size of the hidden and unknown areas. Its beauty is revealed when we notice that certain quadrants are larger than others and need to be looked into. 

The goal here is to become aware where one is oblivious of certain traits and deal with them accordingly for a more wholesome and sane life.

The Johari Window is a model of interpersonal awareness. It’s a useful tool for improving self-awareness and, through it, we are able to work well with others. It works by helping us understand the differences between how we see ourselves and how others see us. It is a great tool for improving communication and relationships with others. We might have blind spots, hidden fears or insecurities that they can address. Self-awareness is the key.

Indian priest and psychotherapist Anthony de Mello once said that wisdom tends to grow in proportion to one’s awareness of one’s ignorance.



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