Friday, May 27, 2011

The Johari Window

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The Johari Window is a graphical model with four quadrants designed to increase effective relationships within a group in terms of awareness. It is simple to visualize what each quadrant represents and is seen by many people as the communication window. An individual is able to view what is known to self and others and what is not known to self and others, by observing how one presents and receives information through the panes. The Johari Window enables an individual to describe, evaluate, and predict the aspects of interpersonal communication in their own life by exploring what is seen in each window. The information is portrayed in many different forms including verbal and nonverbal, fact and opinion, feelings and thoughts, as well as perceptions. The model addresses a real life situation that enables an individual to improve communication skills, build trust within a group, and develop self-esteem. The framework of the Johari Window enables people to see themselves as others see them, and is a very unique way of looking at relationships and the communication process.

The first pane in the Johari Window is known as the Arena and represents the degree of self-disclosure in relationships. It contains personal information that is known to others and ourselves. Increasing self-disclosure implies trust in others, self-acceptance, and reduces the need for defensiveness. By revealing something about you encourages others to reveal something about themselves in return. Self-disclosure is beneficial because it leads to a more stable self-image increasing self-esteem. The Arena is that part of our conscious self such as our attitudes, behavior, motivation, values, and way of life of which we are aware and which is known to others. It is a window that might describe a relationship with a close friend. In a relationship with a manager, there are various limitations on self-disclosure, but the Arena can be increased if personally relevant information is shared that each party finds useful. My relationship with my manager is very honest and open and our environment at work is like a second home. There was a time when I needed to take a week off to finish my college papers, because there were a lot of personal family situations that had come up in our family that kept me from completing my papers. I had planned to finish my papers in December, but my only nephew was in the hospital and was very near death at the age of 5. Eventually, he was stabilized enough to go home but was diagnosed with a fatal disease and only given six months to one year to live. Even though I had only started my job in November, I explained the situation to my manager and she was very understanding. I was afraid that my manager would tell me that I couldn’t take that many days off from work, but she let me have a week off to finish up my homework, and appreciated my honesty. By sharing my personal experiences with my manager, my reason for taking off was entirely acceptable. It also relieved me from an enormous amount of stress and I was very thankful my manager was that considerate.

The second pane in the Johari Window is the Blind Spot that represents those aspects about myself that I am unaware of that may be communicated to others in the form of verbal cues, mannerisms, the tone of voice used, or the style of relating to others. Awareness of these behaviors is needed to avoid interpersonal conflicts. An individual needs to be more sensitive to what is being communicated to others. There was a time when my tone of voice used was mistaken for being unappreciative toward a research associate at work. Unfortunately, I had a headache and wasn’t feeling very well and I was taken by surprise when my coworker was offended. The situation was embarrassing and I had to apologize and explain why I sounded so irritated.

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The third pane in the Johari Window is the Fa├žade that represents characteristics known about ourselves but unwilling to reveal to others. It may be matters that we have sensitive feelings about and we may fear how others will react, or it may be that we feel like we do not have the necessary support to share the information. When I first started my job, I was working very fast and I was eager to learn everything that I could about my new job. Then the research associate that I mentioned about earlier, accused me of talking to the manager about a mistake that was made on a test and also of trying to make him look bad. My coworker also warned me not to bother the manager with this kind of problem. I assured my coworker that I never discussed any test results with anyone, but he was very skeptical. I thought about talking to the manager to clear the air, but didn’t want to be in any conflicts because I was new, and since someone did talk to the manager about the test results, I thought it would be best not to inflate the problem.

The last pane in the Johari window represents unknown information that neither the individual nor others are aware of regarding certain behaviors or motives. We can only assume they exist because some of these behaviors and motives influence relationships. Some of this information may never be known and may be latent potentialities learned during early childhood experiences. Unknown information may surface through an exchange of feedback in a supportive setting. There are many new things that I have learned about myself after going to college. One of the most important things I discovered about myself was how to take a new approach to life whether I was in a stable or unstable position. Reflecting on my past during a class exercise enabled me to move on to a new chapter in my life. Even though I was struggling with what I felt like were failures in my past, I was able to reorganize my priorities and found the future revitalizing after the decision to change my way of looking at my situation. I realized that by changing my goals that life itself had become an adventure and I no longer felt trapped or guiltridden. Moving on to a new chapter in my life put me in control of my own destiny.

The Johari Window can offer many insights to individuals about their own style of communicating. Self-disclosure involves taking risks and putting your trust in others and by doing so, you’ll get to know yourself. Getting feedback will help us increase our Arena that in return may help us gain insight to the potential within us represented by the unknown. Others cannot know our hidden areas unless we share it. The degree to which we share with others is the degree that others will know us.

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