Late philosophers Joseph Luft (1916–2014) and Harrington Ingham (1916–1995) struck gold in 1955 when they created the Johari window to help people better understand themselves and others. [Get it – Jo + hari from Joseph and Harrington]
Pane by pane of this window here’s how it works:
Pane 1– This is the area of our lives that most everyone knows. We see it, they see it, it’s common knowledge. It includes things like your hair color and height, your gender, what you do for a living and so on.
Pane 2– In this area we have things they see but we don’t yet know. We may be the ones who aren’t “getting it”. This could include anything from the fact that we have mustard on our cheek to the reality that we have a problem with our temper. Awareness growth in this area comes from outside as someone shares something with us that we were not aware of. It is either solicited or given. It can be kind or blunt.
- “Do I have something in my teeth?”
- “How do you think I came across in that meeting?”
- “I don’t know if you realize what you are doing, but when you talk like that everyone gets nervous.”
- “You are a jerk! I can’t believe you would say something like that!”
No matter whether feedback is sought out or received unexpectedly, there is gold to be mined out there. If nothing else you are being perceived differently than you intend. (At least I assume you don’t intend to be a jerk!)
Pane 2 can be about discovery if you are open to feedback.
Pane 3- In this quadrant you have a choice. You can disclose parts of yourself that are not clearly evident. It could sound something like this.
- “I’m not sure if you are aware, but this situation is hard for me because I had something similar happen to me in the past that didn’t turn out so well. I am having a difficult time not projecting that outcome to this current situation. Can I tell you about what happened?”
- “There’s some things about me that you don’t know. I think if I shared them with you, it would probably be helpful.”
Pane 3 is about disclosure if you are open to authenticity and vulnerability.
Pane 4– This is where the true mysteries are pursued. Neither party, the person themselves or the one they are relating with, knows what is in there.
True coaching gently and respectfully delves in and helps people with discovery (pane 2), disclosure (pane 3) and going deeper (pane 4).
Here’s some questions you can ask others, or yourslef, to use this tool and go deeper.
- On a scale of 1-10 how open am to receiving feedback about myself? What would it take to raise that number up a notch or two?
- What am I holding back and not sharing with others that give my current situation context, bring some clarity and could make our relationship stronger?
- How could I/we truly go deeper and find out what is in Pane 4 that neither of us has seen yet?
The Johari window has helped me personally go deeper and also been a wonderful coaching tool to help others.
What’s holding you back?
Thank you Joseph and Harrington for this clarifying tool!