Elizabethkuhnke's Blog

Johari’s Window

Posted on: August 1, 2011

If you’re looking for a simple formula for success here you go:  Understanding is the key to effective communication. Effective communication is the key to success. The more you understand about yourself and others the more success you can have in your communication.  So, how can you understand yourself and others better than you currently do?  Read on. 
In 1955 the American psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Inhgam developed a simple and useful model to demonstrate and enhance self-awareness and mutual understanding between individuals working in groups.  They cleverly named their model Johari, after combining their first names, Joe and Harry. The model emphasizes ‘soft’ skills, including behaviour, empathy, and cooperation.

Two key concepts underpin this tool:

  1. Building trust with other people through self-disclosure.
  2. Giving and accepting feedback in order to gain a deeper understanding of yourself and others.  

So, what is the Johari Window?
The Johari Window communication model consists of a four square grid which represents the individual and is intended to help people understand the way they communicate and build relationships.  Soliciting feedback from others is an integral part of the instrument. Take a look at the model below:





Behaviour, attitude, feelings,
knowledge skills etc

Ignorance about oneself,
issues in which one is deluded etc


Information, feelings, fears,
hidden agendas, secrets etc

Feelings, behaviours,
capabilities, aptitudes etc

Quadrant 1 – Open area.  What you know about yourself and others know, too. In this space you find information about you that both you and others know, from the colour of your eyes, your height, the way you hold your knife and fork any other information you’re willing to share. The more open you can be with others about who you are, the more effective and productive both you and the group can become. 

Quadrant 2 – Blind spot.  What you don’t know about yourself and others do including behaviours and habits you’re not aware of, like nervous laughter or revealing facial expressions.  You can decrease this area – thus increasing your open area – by soliciting feedback from others and taking on board what they say.  Avoid hanging out in your blind spot because it’s neither an effective nor a productive place to be.  Ignorance and delusion don’t lead to success. 

Quadrant 3 – Hidden area.  What you know about yourself that others don’t. Information you keep here could include fears, feelings, hidden agendas, secrets and sensitivities – anything you know about yourself that you choose not to reveal.  It’s natural, and often appropriate, to keep certain personal information under wraps, as long as the information has no bearing on the health, safety or productivity of others.  If what you’re hiding could benefit others and enhance relationships, I encourage that you share this information in an amount and manner others can comfortably digest. 

Quadrant 4 – Unknown area.  What neither you nor others know about you.The issues tucked inside here take a variety of forms from feelings, attitudes, behaviours and aptitudes.  They can lie deep down inside you or right up at the surface and influence your actions from major to minor degrees, including unexpected emotional outbursts.  People lacking in experience or self-belief tend to have a fairly large quadrant 4.


An advanced understanding of yourself and others leads to improved communication and relationships. 

The process of self-disclosure and seeking feedback can be filled with landmines.  Beware of your own limits and sensitivities.  The extent and depth you want to go into understanding yourself must always be your own choice and not foisted upon you by an overzealous champion or conspirator as you may discover traits, feelings, and characteristics you’re unable to cope with on your own. 

Brush up on your active and empathic listening skills to make the exercise successful. Differences within teams, when communicated properly, create greater depth of competence.  

Learn more around the relevance of trust, respect and clear communication to drive team effectiveness take a look at the study compiled by the Korn/Ferry Institute


Some cultures have a very open view on receiving feedback, some less so. Take care in how you give feedback – slow, sensitive and steady are the golden rules.  Only provide feedback when it has been asked for.  

Using the Johari Window framework results in a stronger and happier, creative, communicative and cohesive team.  

 For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

And…Follow us on Twitter! www.twitter.com/diamondpolisher

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