Coaching and Mentoring
Coaching Models: Johari Window
Good coaching and feedback giving should help to facilitate the whole process of self-discovery. A useful model for better understanding some of the subtleties of interpersonal communication is the “Johari Window.” Named after the inventors, Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, the Johari Window describes the process of human interaction through a paned window visual diagram. The window divides personal awareness into four different quadrants, each of which represents a different type: Open, Blind, Hidden, and Unconscious.
In this quadrant, information exists that is both “known to others” and “known to self.” For example, a new employee might share basic information about him or herself on the first day of work, such as where he or she was previously employed, attended school, or currently lives. This data is then in the “open” area (also referred to as the “arena”). The more an individual shares, the larger the “open” zone becomes.
In the “hidden” quadrant exists information about an individual that has yet to be disclosed; communication that is “known to self”, but “unknown to others.” Over time, an employee would most likely progressively disclose more and more about his or her “hidden” self, thus expanding the “open” quadrant and shrinking the “hidden” quadrant. Naturally, the more comfortable one feels with a particular work contact, the more self-disclosure is likely to take place. Moving from the “hidden” zone is largely dependent upon mutual trust.
The “blind” area contains information that is “unknown to self”, but “known to others.” The only way to move communication from the “blind” zone to the “open” zone is through feedback. Everyone has “blind spots,” and one-to-one feedback is one way to learn more about them. Feedback need not always be gathered formally and anonymously, however. The extent to which someone asks for and welcomes feedback greatly influences how likely he or she is to get it.
Information in this last quadrant is that which exists, but has yet to be known either by self or others. For example, an employee may actually have considerable management talent that he or she has not become aware of. Given the right conditions, he or she may discover this truth about him or herself at some point, or may not. Others may see it in him or her and share that information, or they may not. The “unconscious” quadrant represents potentiality.
Common principles between the Johari Window and other behavioral models
It is often helpful to compare the Johari Window model to other four-quadrant grid type behavioral models, notably Bruce Tuckman’s Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing team development model or also Paul Hersey’s Situational Leadership® development and management styles model. The common principle is that as the individual or team matures and communications improve, so performance improves too, as less energy is spent on internal issues and clarifying understanding, and more effort is devoted to external aims and productive output.