The Johari Window is a tool used in cognitive psychology and which serves to illustrate the processes that occur in human relationships.Its authors are Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in the 1950s. The names of the authors were used to name this instrument.
Johari Window’s main goal is to offer and receive feedback. Through this technique, especially in group sessions, people perform introspection exercises and, as a result of that process, shape the different areas that make it up. In addition, an environment will be encouraged in which peers will share what they think of the person and will serve to enrich this tool.
The Johari window is widely used in business psychology to strengthen group relationships. It is applicable to any type of group, such as educational ones. Furthermore, it can be used in psychotherapy on an individual level.
It is composed of four areas: free area, blind area, hidden area and unknown area. We will see them in more detail below.
Depending on who of the opinion or feedback, each idea will be noted in each box. Another factor that will be taken into consideration is a certain characteristic or circumstance known or not by themselves.
Different areas that make up the Johari window
It is located in the upper left corner. It is the part of ourselves that others know and that we are able to identify. This zone represents free trade between the people around me and who we know and myself. It is totally public and identifies the thoughts, feelings and emotions one publicly shares with others.
The size of this area varies according to the trust that exists between the people in the group. That is, if people know and trust each other; the free area increases its size. The greater the cohesion between group members, the greater this area will be.
An example would be a person who is outgoing and comfortable in dealing with their peers. He considers himself an open person and this characteristic is recognized by the rest.
According to the authors, people with a larger area are people who live more harmoniously and healthily. The reason for their greater well-being is because they show themselves as they are before others, without having fears that affect their relationship with others and how they develop.
This area is in the upper right corner. The main feature is that others know about ourselves and, personally, we are unable to identify them.
Primarily, it is our behaviors and attitudes towards a particular group that we are not really aware of and that other people are able to identify.
It is an area that is enormously enriched when it is discovered, as it is almost impossible for us to identify how we always act and how we are one hundred percent. Therefore, it is important to be supported by a group that posts with a desire to improve and in an assertive way. In this way, we have a lot to discover.
Importantly, it doesn’t have to be exclusively things to improve or flaws, it can be qualities or skills that we ourselves don’t know and until someone tells us, we don’t fix them. This is a great opportunity to improve and strengthen our skills.
We don’t have to close ourselves to know ourselves, we have to learn what impression we make on the rest. For this, we must ask others and we must be willing to listen to what they tell us.
Located in the lower left corner. It is also known as a private area. Contemplate the things that are known to oneself and are unknown to the rest. That is, what we keep for ourselves and / or privacy.
Those feelings, thoughts, and concerns found in this area are likely not wanting to share otherwise, perhaps, for fear of feeling rejected, attacked or how they might respond to them.
What is really true is that if we never dare to share what is in the hidden area, we can never know what is happening, what the reaction of others will be. Sometimes, we have to take certain risks and take action.
Other reasons or reasons why there is content in this area is because there is no supporting element in the group that can help in these circumstances. Also, another reason, according to the authors, is that by keeping this secret, we can manipulate or control the rest.
Fourth and final area to explore. It is in the lower right corner and alludes to what we know neither to ourselves nor to others. In this area you will find hidden skills and the one we will explore to learn about new things.
In reality, our unconscious motivations are found here, which are closely related to our interpersonal dynamics, those related to early childhood, as well as the potentials and resources that are latent and yet to be discovered.
In this area lies the ability and motivation to learn and grow.
How does the Johari window work?
What this tool tries to explain is how the differences between different areas of the subject’s personality intersect and coexist. The ideal, as we have seen before, is that the free area will be enlarged as the relationship progresses and there is a rich feedback process between the person and their environment or group.
As the free area increases in size, the unknown area will be reduced. To make this activity as profitable as possible, we need to emphasize feedback.
What relationships arise in Johari’s window?
Johari’s window model also talks about interpersonal relationships and describes 16 different types with their characteristics. Next, we’ll look at four of the most frequently occurring ones.
1- Free area relations
It occurs when in both people there is a predominance of free area over others. In these cases, one of the key elements is communication and it is clear and precise. Neither is hiding any information.
Empathy and acceptance among members also predominate. The other person becomes a partner, someone who understands the other’s needs and also feels understood.
On the negative side, there can be feelings of anger and rage due to the fact that, as there are no secrets, some of them may feel vulnerable. It is essential to address this aspect to promote a healthy relationship between its members.
2- Blind area relations
People who have these relationships are characterized by being interpersonal explorers. It could be said that through the relationship they explore each other. They leave the relationship strengthened, even on a personal level as this promotes greater self-knowledge.
They are people characterized by being very sociable and outgoing. They also tend to tip over and provide their partner with what they need.
On the other hand, prejudices and arguments between them can arise as a result of them. There are two main reasons, one of which is that they don’t correctly interpret who they say they are and another, that they twist the relationship too much and end up leaving aside.
3- Hidden area relationships
As the hidden area is larger, people hardly know each other. In this type of relationship, mistrust and insecurity predominate, as well as fear. As for fear, it refers to conflict and, therefore, they are silent and keep many things. In these circumstances, the real problem is when the conflict breaks out.
They could be characterized as those in which intimacy and personal space are given a lot of respect and importance.
4- Reports of the hidden blind area
They take place between people who are in the process of discovery, of themselves and of those around them. For this reason they are very stimulating relationships. Its main features are the ups and downs and surprises that occur during this process. Furthermore, intensity plays a key role.
We must be attentive to expectations as these will not always be met. Furthermore, these relationships are characterized by a high tendency to depend on them.
How can we use the Johari window?
As I said at the beginning, this tool can be used in different contexts where they want to promote and stimulate interpersonal relationships and self-knowledge. From school and educational groups to corporate settings.
First, you can provide some theoretical information about the tool and then ask the person to describe themselves. Also, colleagues should write down what they think. Gradually, the different paintings are completed.
For when information about other people is offered (the feedback) has to be done in a certain way.
How should feedback be given?
There are a number of principles that govern the effectiveness of feedback and which will contribute to a better understanding among colleagues, promoting a greater richness of the results obtained in the Johari window. Are the following:
That the feedback is applicable
That is, it is aimed at behavior that can be changed. To do this, the point where the error occurs must be recognized and, in addition, add a strategy to correct the deviation.
For example: “I don’t like the way you talk” is not applicable feedback and, moreover, it does not benefit communication by not offering any useful or applicable strategy to the interlocutor.
Therefore, we could do it in the following way: “You are talking (or have a habit of speaking) too loud and unpleasant”, in this way the message contains specific data that can be examined by the receiver and, therefore, will be able to apply the feedback.
The opinion must be offered in a neutral way
This means that the feedback must be more descriptive than evaluative. This criterion is contrary to some characteristics that are very common and that, as a rule, make the relationship problem and the feedback itself worse.
These are: the tone of censorship, disapproval or negative evaluation that can lead to feedback on certain occasions.
For example: “You have a habit of speaking aggressively” is feedback of personalized value. However, “this part of the work can be complicated, we have to look for a more direct language” is neutral feedback and, therefore, is not personalized.
When we avoid the use of evaluative language, we reduce the need for the other person to react defensively.
The other feature contrary to neutrality is what alludes to interpretation. It refers to the circumstances in which the person anticipates certain intentions or causes in the behavior of others. For example: “You are late, you will sleep until the last minute.” To do this in a neutral way, we could use a formula like the following: “I feel you tend to be late, do you have a problem at home?”
By this feature, we mean that feedback to produce positive results in the other person, opinions, interpretations, value judgments, etc., are to be avoided.
Feedback must be timely
That is, we have to choose the right time. Also, we need to consider whether it should be done in public or in private. As a general rule, feedback is much more effective when it is offered immediately after the fact or behavior that is troublesome or annoying to others.
In the case of the realization of the Johari window, it is not a moment chosen by the interlocutors nor, necessarily, it is done after a problematic circumstance. What can happen is that the person wants to speak privately with the partner to explain the opinion that was made of him.
Feedback, rather than taxes, must be sought. It will be much more useful and effective if the person himself has asked a question or requested information from his / her interlocutor (s). It can also be directly or indirectly.
As in the previous section, people usually don’t have the initiative to perform the technique, but they may require a greater degree of concretion and involvement from their peers.
Feedback must be objective
This quality refers to various characteristics. To be useful, the feedback must necessarily satisfy a series of conditions which are: clarity in the message, attention to the problem and use of examples.
It is important to avoid deviations or evasives. A concrete example would be this: “You make me feel uncomfortable”. In this way, the person does not know what behavior he needs to change or what problem the other person has.
Therefore, a more appropriate way to say that would be the following: “When I am with you I do not feel comfortable because I perceive that you are not listening to me while paying attention to me.” Therefore, we make sure that the person can understand the change we ask for in their behavior.
Feedback must be direct
It must be offered personally and not through other people. Also, it has to be offered in person better than other means.
Using the Johari window, the facilitator should choose whether the opinions provided by the partners should be anonymized or publicly. It is a circumstance that must be evaluated based on the performance of the group.
One possibility is that people write it anonymously and then, group discussion time is offered to evaluate the results and each participant has the opportunity to express themselves.
The message must be specific
This criterion is the opposite of generalized feedback, when the message is widespread and can be misinterpreted. For example, “you are a misfit person” is a message that does not clarify anything. In this case, we can use the following:
“I feel that you are not contributing everything you have to the group and I would like you to participate more in the meetings and free time.” This way, the receiver can review its performance and take steps to improve it.
Feedback must be checked to ensure good communication
One strategy is that the person, after receiving the opinion of the rest of the group, comments with the group so that, when expressing himself, the facilitator checks that there are no misunderstandings.