Change Implementation Techniques for Laying a Foundation for New Ways

Technique 1.47 Johari Window

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(mapping personality awareness)


The purpose of the technique is to allow participants to

. Increase awareness of personal communication and feedback

. Develop new ways of making assessments of people and situations

. Increase personal awareness of our propensity to overlay data with judgements and inferences

. Gain an awareness of the impact we have on other people

. Request, receive and learn from feedback

The model is a communication and feedback model to depict how we give and receive information about ourselves and others.


The model depicts a 4‐paned window

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. The theory behind the model says that it is difficult to develop and maintain relationships unless we disclose information about ourselves, and solicit and accept feedback from others.

. The model was developed by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham and provides a framework to better understand the relationship between disclosure and feedback. It can be used by individuals or groups/teams. The more we know about ourselves and the more others know about us reduces the chance of our being misunderstood or treated defensively.

. Looking at the 4 panes in terms of columns and rows, the two columns represent the self; the first contains "things I know about myself," and the second contains "things I do not know about myself." The rows represent the group one is in or others, the first row being "things they know about me," and the second being "things they do not know about me."

. The 4 panes are called public, blind, hidden and unknown

. The process involves joining with someone else to identify the "unknown", ie inform your partner what you were in a previous life (a famous composer!) or what has not yet been discovered about yourself (you are a faster runner than Cathy Freeman?!). An alternative way is to describe yourself from a fixed list of words, and a colleague uses the same list of the words to describe you. Then compare and discuss the similarities and differences. To start, pick 5 or 6 words from the list below that you feel best describe you, ie cheerful, happy, independent, organized, reflective, able, caring, clever, complex, dependable, energetic, friendly, giving, intelligent, loving, nurturing, proud, responsive, ive, sentimental, trustworthy, warm, witty, self‐conscious, accepting, adaptable, bold, brave, calm, confident, dignified, extroverted, introverted, helpful, idealistic, ingenious, kind, knowledgeable, logical, observant, patient, powerful, quiet, relaxed, religious, searching, shy, silly, spontaneous, sympathetic, tense, wise, etc

. The size of the information contained in each of these panes varies as the level of mutual trust and exchange of feedback varies in the group in which the person is interacting.

. This can be done with pairs and/or larger groups

. The goal of learning to give and solicit feedback is to move information from the Blind Spot and the Fade (hidden) into the Arena (public disclosure). Through this process, new information also can move from the Unknown into the Arena. This frequently is called "insight" or "inspiration." Using the Johari Window framework helps people to provide a framework in which people can practise giving and receiving feedback. The overall goal is that they also learn to be more accepting of themselves and others.

More details on each panel

. The Arena contains information that I know about myself and about which the group knows. It is an area characterised by free and open exchange of information between myself and others. The Arena increases in size as the level of individual‐individual or individual‐group trust and communication increases.

. The Blind Spot is the information known about me by others, but which I do not know about myself. This information maybe in the form of body language, habits or mannerisms, tone of voice, style, etc. Our Blind Spots are the things we are not aware that we are communicating to others. It frequently is surprising to learn about these things and to learn how many of them there are. For persons with large Blind Spots, learning to solicit feedback can be quite useful and enlightening.

. The Fade is the area of information that I know about myself but which, for some reason, I withhold from others. This information may include feelings, opinions, prejudices, and past history. People have various motives for keeping secrets: some may fear rejection or ridicule; others may withhold information in order to manipulate others.

. The Unknown contains things that neither I nor others know about me. Some of this material maybe so far below the surface that I may never become aware of it. Other material, however, maybe below the surface of awareness to both me and others but can be made public through an exchange of feedback. This information may include childhood memories, unrealised potential, and so on. Because knowing oneself completely is extremely unlikely, the Unknown in the Johari Window is extended so that part of it always will remain unknown. In Freudian terms, this is the "unconscious".

. The boundaries of the panes are flexible, that is, one can enlarge or reduce a column or row by increasing or decreasing the amount of feedback one gives and receives.


. Ideal Window. In any significant relationship, a window with a large Arena and small Blind Spot, Fade, and Unknown is best. A person of this description would be relatively easy for others to interact with and understand, making for better and more honest relationships. In general, the size of the Arena increases as the level of trust in the group increases and norms are developed that facilitate giving and receiving feedback.

. Interviewer. A person who is comfortable asking questions of others (soliciting feedback) but does not like to reveal personal information or provide feedback ‐ hence, a large Fade and small Arena. Such individuals are comfortable with a high group‐participation level, but not when the group's attention is focused on themselves. Because such persons do not commit themselves in the group, it is hard to know where they stand on issues. Others eventually may react to this type of person with irritation, distrust, and withholding.

. Bull‐in‐a‐China‐Shop. A person who has a large Blind Spot. The opposite of the "interviewer", people with this profile give a great deal of feedback but solicit very little. Their participation style is to comment on what is going on in the group, including group issues and the behaviour of other members. Unfortunately, such persons either tend to be poor listeners (thus, "insensitive" to the impact of their behaviour on others or what others are trying to tell them) or they may respond to feedback in such a way (eg. with anger, tears, by threatening to leave) that others are reluctant to continue to give it. This type maybe perceived by others as insensitive, opinionated, and critical. Because they are unaware of the impact of their behaviour on others, such individuals do not know what behaviours to change.

. Turtle. An individual with a large Unknown. This type of person tends to be the silent member or "observer," neither giving nor soliciting feedback. It is difficult for group members to know where this person stands in the group or where they stand with him or her. When confronted about such lack of participation, this person may respond with, "I learn more by listening." Actually, however, such persons learn very little about themselves because they do not provide the group with any data to which it can react. It takes a considerable amount of energy to maintain an Arena this small in a group situation because of the pressure that group norms exert against this kind of behaviour. The energy needed to maintain a closed system is not available for self‐exploration and personal growth.

Alternative Process

. You can use the Johari Window to appraise and practise self‐disclosure in your relationships with others.

. Select a friend who knows you well to aid you in this exercise. You may want to do the exercise with more than one person to compare results.

. Focus on Area 2 (blind) and ask this friend to give you feedback. To generate useful information, you might ask a few questions (for example, "When I join a small group, what effect do I have on the interaction?" "Do I have any habits that annoy you?" "What talents or abilities do you think I have?").

. Shift the focus to Area 3 (hidden) and disclose things about yourself that are relevant to the exchange. Probably, you will begin to self‐disclose naturally.

. After you consider the quantity and quality of the information that the exchange has produced, draw the four areas in the blank frame to represent the degree of openness you perceive in the relationship. You may want to talk to someone whose opinion you value about the results of the exercise.

(sources: Lawry Scandar, 2003; Gaye, 2008)

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