1. Open Area
The Open Area represents the things that you know about yourself and that others know about you. This includes your behavior, knowledge, skills, attitudes, and "public" history.
The ideal Johari Window (see figure 2, below) has a large Open Area. This is because, in general, the more that people know about themselves and one another, the more productive, cooperative and trusting they'll be when working together.
A large Open Area shows that you're aware of your abilities, feelings and behaviors, and that the people around you understand you well.
Small Open Areas can be a sign that someone is young, or new to his job, because he hasn't shared much information about himself or may not be very self-aware. But it can also reflect someone who is an introvert, uncommunicative or difficult to work with.
3. Hidden Area
The Hidden Area represents things that you know about yourself, but that you keep hidden from other people.
You don't need to share all of your private thoughts and feelings with Others. Naturally, you wouldn't want to reveal anything that would make you feel embarrassed or vulnerable. Withholding information is perfectly reasonable if it has no bearing on your work.
However, hiding information about yourself that is related to your work or your performance could lead to co-workers having less trust in you. So, if your Johari Window has a large Hidden Area, you could try to be more open with them.
2. Blind Area
The Blind Area represents things about yourself that you aren't aware of, but that others know about you. For example, you might not realize that you're a great listener until someone points it out to you.
It can also reveal deeper issues, such as feelings of incompetence or anger that you haven't faced up to, but that others sense in you.
A small Blind Area indicates that you're aware of how your behavior affects other people, whereas a large Blind Area suggests that you may be naive or even in denial about it. A large Blind Area could also mean that your colleagues are keeping what they know about you to themselves.
No one works at their best when they're "in the dark," so it's important to reduce the size of your Blind Area.
4. Unknown Area
The Unknown Area represents things that are unknown to you and by others. For example, you may have some dazzling untapped abilities that neither you nor anyone else knows about.
A large Unknown Area may just be a sign of youth or inexperience, but it can also mean that you need to work hard on discovering and releasing new information about yourself.
Building Self-Awareness and Trust
Have you ever been part of a team whose members were all open and honest with one another?
If so, then chances are you worked extremely effectively together. You and your colleagues likely knew everyone's strengths and weaknesses, and enjoyed high levels of trust. Such a positive working environment probably helped to create a top-performing, tight-knit unit.
Teams rely on a combination of self-awareness and trust to run like a finely tuned machine. But how do you build those qualities?
The Johari Window model provides a simple visual reference for examining your personality, and for improving understanding between individuals. Most people use it to develop self-awareness, but you can also use it as a personal development tool, and to build better workplace relationships.
There are two key ideas behind the tool:
You can build trust with others by disclosing information about yourself.
With the help of feedback from other people, you can learn about yourself and deal with personal issues.
Your ultimate goal in using the Johari Window is to enlarge your Open Area. Look at the filled-in Johari Window, and think about how you can increase your Open Area and reduce the other quadrants. For example, if you tend to be secretive, you may want to reduce the size of your Hidden Area. Or, if you're surprised by what your colleagues think about you, you might want to minimize your Blind Area.
To minimize your Hidden and Unknown areas, you need to reveal more about yourself. Self-disclosure is a give-and-take process of sharing information with other people. The more that you share your thoughts, feelings and opinions, the more your Open Area expands vertically and shrinks your Hidden Area, and the more people will likely trust you.
To reduce the size of your Blind or Unknown areas, you need to improve your self-awareness by seeking and accepting feedback.
This can be daunting, but finding out new things about yourself can also be empowering, and fun! When people provide feedback about you, and you are receptive to it, your Open Area expands horizontally and your Blind Area gets smaller.
If the size of your Unknown Area is a problem, look for ways to break out of your comfort zone. Taking on new challenges, testing your limits, and being open to new experiences can help you – and your colleagues – to learn more about your skills and abilities.
Feedback and disclosure can only flourish, and enable people to expand their Open Areas, in an environment with high levels of trust and a culture of honest, constructive communication.
Some individuals, organizations and cultures have an open and accepting approach to feedback, but others don't.
It's important to make sure that no one feels pressured to share confidential information, or to disclose anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
The more open we are in our relationships, the more others tend to understand us. Generally speaking this helps communicate effectively and build trust, among other things.
Discover Your Johari Window
Discovering what your Johari Window looks like requires some honesty, a group of peers and some trust. To complete the activity, you need to choose words that you think describe you from a set list and get your peers to do the same. You then explore at the differences between the words you and they chose. Once you understand where the differences are you can create a plan to help you bridge the gap. The following steps will help you do this:
Choose your peers: Identify people who you trust and who you think know you, or members of your team if you’re completing a team activity.
Select your words: Review the list of 56 words and circle 5-10 words that you think best describe you.
Get your feedback: Ask your chosen peers to complete the same exercise, choosing the 5-10 words they think best describe you.
Plot your words: Open Area: write the adjectives that both you and your colleagues chose.
Hidden Area: write the adjectives that only you chose.
Blind Area: write the adjectives that only your colleagues chose.
Unknown Area: write the adjectives that were not chosen by any of you, but that you are prompted to consider as your self-awareness increases.