At our most recent BLOC-O Networking event, I included two states of the JoHari window – one where the panes were crossing more closely to the upper left, and another where the panes crossed closer to the lower right – and stated my passion was helping people move their personal JoHari windows from the first to the second. So what does that really mean?
The JoHari window outlines what you know about yourself, and what others know about you, into 4 rectangles of different sizes – and suggests that they interrelate:
The Arena is known to you and others. The Façade is what you know about yourself, but hide from others by choice. The Blindspot is what others see about you, but you don’t see about yourself. And the Unknown are things about you that nobody, not even you, know.
Interesting concept – by why should you really care?
You’ve been going through life to this point, quite possibly without knowing anything about researchers Joseph Luft or Harrington Ingham or their apparent fascination with window panes and have likely survived just fine.
Well, there are a couple of things to unpack here – primarily around the Blindspot and the Façade. From a Blindspot standpoint, you may actually be damaging yourself and your relationships by not being aware of how others perceive you (if their perception is negative). In some cases you may learn of this (and move the vertical pane rightward) but react simply with “well, they just need to get used to it.” If it is customers that are seeing it, they might choose not to do business with you again in the future. You could even lose personal relationships if you really dig in.
From a Façade standpoint, where you’re keeping others from seeing things about you, you may be losing the opportunity to craft really strong relationships with others. There are always reasons to keep some things to yourself (That old adage “Don’t talk politics or religion at dinner” is usually good advice) – but if you’re actually bringing only part of yourself to the world, not only is the world losing out, but you are too.
Exposing the parts of yourself hidden behind your Façade is more challenging. It can be difficult to “put yourself out there” because while the result could be fantastic (“I never knew that about you – that’s inspiring!”), you could be met with complete indifference, or worse, rejection. While nobody can please everyone all of the time, we can all strive to be the best Human Being we can – and it takes conversations with others to make that happen, and authenticity, even when it’s scary.
Feedback is a gift!
Personally, I struggled with these for years. When presented with negative Blindspot feedback, my initial reaction was to throw up a wall and toss out “what you see is what you get.” I’d get mad, blame them, and ultimately bring less of myself to my interactions with that individual. Now when I say “what you see is what you get” it’s generally because we’re talking about my grey hair, but really as an example of my desire to be authentic with people. I can learn by shrinking my Blindspot, change and grow from the feedback, and still be authentically me – an even better version of me! I’ve realized over time that some of that feedback is truly a gift – and so I try to own it as part of myself, and if I recognize that the behavior or personality quirk is detrimental to my goals, I try to change it. If I trust the person who shared it with me, I may even ask them to become an accountability partner and help me recognize when that trait makes an appearance so that I can modify it.
In the end, I see the JoHari window as a way to help others think about themselves; what they share with others, why they hide some things. When you receive feedback, how do you respond? If it’s positive does it reinforce your behavior? In negative feedback, even if not presented constructively, can you find any truth in how you interact with others? Should you change it? If so, how?
You be you
Everyone should be self-aware as much as possible. Moving the panes in the JoHari window is only possible when you work at understanding yourself, and when you engage with others openly. While it can be frightening at times, in the long run it’s always beneficial. So, “You be you,” but be the best You that you can Be.