The strength of any organization is based on the strength and efficiency of its human resource team. To work cohesively as a team with maximum productivity, all team members need to know each other well. It is important that all teammates honestly look at their own and others’ weaknesses and strengths. This can help them to can use the strengths to their advantage and work on the weaknesses to overcome them. This is where communication skills become crucial! The Johari window model is one such revolutionary model that helps an individual improve his/her interpersonal communication and improves the self-awareness and trust among team members, resulting in a highly productive, satisfied, and happy team.
Two American psychologists, Joseph Luft, and Harry Ingham developed this model in 1995 at the University of California. Thus, the model has been named “Johari” by combining the first names of the developers. In this model, subjects choose 5–6 adjectives (from a list) that best describe their own personality. The subject’s friends, family members, and colleagues pick adjectives that they feel are applicable to the subject. These chosen adjectives are then placed in a 2×2 grid as explained below. This grid has 2 axes (ask and tell), and the four quadrants are: “Open”, “Hidden”, “Blind”, and “Unknown”.
Johari Window Model
The first quadrant (upper left) is called the “Open” window. This window represents the qualities, behavior, and attitude of a subject that he/she is himself/herself aware of and are also known to others.
In cases where team members (or peers) openly discuss and reveal information about themselves, the size of this window increases, while that of the other windows decreases. Such interactions would help those surrounding you understand you better, trust you more, and vastly improve your interpersonal relations and communication. For example, sharing personal information like previous employment details, native place details, and leisure time activities would help you bond and develop a rapport with your peers.
This second quadrant (upper right) contains qualities that your peers might observe in you, but you are unaware of.
Some call this quadrant as ‘Blind spot’ as well. This quadrant includes aspects of your personality that others have listed, but you haven’t. Others may perceive and interpret you differently than you imagine. Honest introspection on these adjectives (that others have selected for you) might alert you to qualities that you were unaware of and may need to focus on. For example, you may not realize that you’re less assertive, but your peers may have observed this as impartial observers who have seen you handle situations in a particular way. Such feedback is valuable. If taken in the right spirit, it can give you precious insights into your own self. Also, it gives you the chance to strengthen your personality.
This “Blind spot” can be easily reduced if you choose to have open conversations with unbiased peers and are open to constructive criticism and self-growth. This tool is extremely useful to human resources (HR) personnel for removing blind spots, recognizing employee talent and ultimately leading to better personal and team productivity.
The third quadrant (lower left) is called the “Hidden” window. The qualities or behavior in this quadrant are known to you but you do not disclose this information to others.
Your fears, secrets, dislikes, and political opinions may be aspects that you are uncomfortable sharing with anyone. The reasons could be fear of being judged, looked down upon, or inappropriate treatment by peers. These fears stop you from disclosing personal information about yourself, leading to less communication and impaired personal development. However, if you wish to pursue self-growth, it might be worth the risk to occasionally talk about your innermost feelings, emotions, thoughts, and opinions.
This quadrant (lower right) represents qualities about you that neither you nor others are aware of.
This spot contains all the qualities that neither you nor others have selected for you. For example, you might be an excellent dancer but because you never tried it, you’ll be unaware of how good you are at it your whole life. Similarly, since you’ve never performed for anyone, no one knows about your dancing skills. This quadrant may include your hidden talents, early childhood memories, certain likes or dislikes, and certain behavioral traits. The best way to reduce the size of this quadrant is to be more self-aware by keeping an open mind, grabbing all opportunities, and living a fuller life.
The 2 axes (“ask” and “tell”) enable two-way feedback and strengthen the teams.
In addition to these 4 quadrants, there are two axes “ask and tell”. The “ask” axis represents the subject asking for feedback from his team that will help him/her to understand the team’s perspective and work on his/her shortcomings.
This will reduce the size of the “Blind area”. The “tell” axis represents the subject passing on information about himself to his team members which helps them understand him/her better. This reduces the size of the “Hidden” area.
Tips for effective use of the Johari window model
1) Be honest
The only way to benefit from this exercise is to be honest about your self-perceptions, including your strengths and weaknesses.
2) Be open to feedback
Remember that all feedback is positive since the goal is self-improvement. Do not take any comment personally; only then will you be able to use the feedback effectively and positively for self-growth.
3) Use the insights
Step outside your comfort zone and be ready to accept and embrace change. Use the insights you get from the exercise to grow as a person and be a more productive and satisfied professional.
The main aim of using this model is to increase the size of the “Open quadrant” by having honest discussions and being open to receiving feedback.
The efficient use of the Johari window model goes a long way in building trust in relationships while promoting efficient communication. This, in turn, results in greater productiveness with minimum conflicts.
If used well, the “Johari window model” is an effective tool for personal development too! Use the insights about yourself and others’ perceptions about you to work on various aspects of life, like family relationships, professional affairs, and personal growth. Once you understand the foundation and principles of this model, you can use it in your own way.
This model is extremely helpful in understanding employee-employer dynamics. In a corporate structure, employers use this to build strong group dynamics. After that, it can motivate people and encourage open discussion among members which can increase their productivity and eventually help the company.
I am a PhD nutritionist who loves to put her pen to the paper. My interest in writing and flair for narration have helped me become a content writer for several domains including health, finance, IT, and lifestyle.