What is it?
A colleague of mine ran of series of sessions before Christmas on the theory of Diversity of Thought – ways to increase your self-awareness and the way you interact with others. In one of the sessions based around self-awareness I was introduced to the Johari Window.
This is a reflection tool designed by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham (whose first names combine to make Johari) to increase your awareness both of the way you see yourself and the way you are perceived by those around you.
The idea is that you choose 5 or 6 words out of a long list that you most identify with. Then you ask other people to also pick words from the list that they believe best represent you.
What you will end up with is a “window”, where the characteristics are divided into four categories based on whether or not they were chosen by you and others.
|Known to You||Not Known to You|
|Known to Others||Arena (out in the open) – Adjectives that both the subject and peers select go in this cell (or quadrant) of the grid. These are traits that subject and peers perceive||Blind Spot – Adjectives not selected by subjects, but only by their peers go here. These represent what others perceive but the subject does not.|
|Not Known to Other||Façade – Adjectives selected by the subject, but not by any of their peers, go in this quadrant. These are things the peers are either unaware of, or that are untrue but for the subject’s claim.||Unknown – Adjectives that neither subject nor peers selected go here. They represent subject’s behaviours or motives that no one participating recognizes—either because they do not apply or because of collective ignorance of these traits.|
In analysing that information you can tell things like:
- the areas in which you believed you were presenting yourself in a particular way that actually, others see differently.
- Your true core values that are obvious to both you and others.
- Your strengths/attributes that you didn’t realise that others valued in you.
- Potential areas for development if there are traits that you would like be associated with that didn’t feature at all.
My Johari Window
After much indecisiveness, the words I most identified with were:
Then I sent the link around to some of my colleagues, friends and family. I wanted to get a well rounded picture from people that I interact with in a range of different settings.
This website then puts all the words into the grid for you and tells you the number of times you’ve been labelled as each word. This tells you your most recognised or strongest characteristics and you can compare these against what you chose for yourself.
My window ended up looking like this:
Able (8), accepting (5), bold (2), brave (1), caring (4), cheerful (7), clever (3), complex (1), confident (8), energetic (1), friendly (8), giving (2), happy (3), helpful (7), idealistic (2), intelligent (4), kind (6), knowledgeable (9), mature (2), observant (2), organised (12), patient (1), proud (1), reflective (4), relaxed (3), responsive (3), searching (1), self-assertive (5), self-conscious (4), sensible (5), warm (3), wise (2), witty (3)
dignified extroverted ingenious introverted loving modest nervous powerful quiet religious sentimental shy silly spontaneous sympathetic tense
The words in bold were the most popular choices but I’ve added in the number of each beside each one.
It was an odd experience collating information on what the people in my life think about me. I’ve tried to consolidate my thinking:
- I was really happy that the most commonly used word was trustworthy and dependable. These are two things I pride myself on and I like knowing that others recognise that in me
- Organised. Well, yes and no. In some areas of my life I am ON IT. In other areas, not so much. I’m very good at planning, I’m less good at following that plan
- Mature – LOL
- Searching and self-conscious – I thought these choices were interesting. I think recently I’ve been more open about the times when I’ve not felt great and that I was not content with what I was doing and I guess this is the way it reflected on other people
- I was reassured by the fact that all of the words I chose for myself were chosen by other people because to me this means that I display an authentic version of myself. What you see is what you get
Overall, I found this exercise insightful, reaffirming and lifting, if a little self-indulgent. I think it is a nice thing to be told the good traits that others see in you. The fact that respondents could choose to remain anonymous re-enforced to me that I was gaining honest feedback.
The overall aim of the Johari Window is to show you where your areas for development are. However I have found that this exercise is too general to be able to give any tangible things to take forward.
For instance, only one person labelled me as brave. I would like to be more brave and I would like other people to know that I am brave. But brave how? In what area of my life? If I start challenging myself to be what I perceive as “brave”, will that be the same as someone else’s definition?
For this to be as useful as possible we need to work on the assumption that there are universally understood, objective definitions of each of these words.
Secondly, as you might have noticed, all the options in this exercise were positive attributes. Surely the areas in which we most need to develop are not always adding more positives but changing or losing our areas of weakness? And if we only focus on the positive, how honest are we actually being with ourselves.
Which brings me to phase 2 of this little experiement.
Phase 2 – Nohari Window
Phase 2, does exactly that. It looks at the flip side of the Johari Window, the things that aren’t so great – the Nohari Window, if you will.
Although a little daunting, having people say nice things about you is, obviously, a pleasant experience. However when you ask the people who’s opinions you value to tell you the negative aspects of yourself – that is quite terrifying.
If you’re interested in how that went, I’ll be posting all about my Nohari Window – What People Really Think About Me very soon!