Developed in 1955 by researchers Joseph Lust and Harrison Ingham, the Johari window is a psychological assessment tool designed to be used in a group setting for the purpose of identifying how individuals in a group perceive one another. The tool is used to answer the question, “How do we see ourselves, and is this different from how others see us?” Like many other psychological assessment tools, the Johari window is a stepping stone for developing leadership communications and improving the emotional intelligence within an organization.
Using the Johari window is simple. Individuals describe themselves from a list of adjectives and are in turn described by others. The presence of common adjectives and character traits, and the absence of others, creates opportunities for dialogue and change. Results are grouped into four different boxes:
1. Open. Adjectives that both participants have selected are placed into this box. For example, if the subject describes themselves as trustworthy and the group members also describe the subject as trustworthy, that is an openly held belief about an individual’s personality. He or she need not have to work terribly hard to convince others about their being trustworthy.
2. Hidden. Adjectives which are selected by the individual but not by any of his or her peers are placed into this category, aptly named because the traits which are known to the individual are seemingly hidden from the group. It is incumbent upon the individual to change the way in which he or she is perceived if he or she wishes to do so.
3. Blind Spot. The adjectives placed here are those which are only perceived by the group, and not by the individual. Again, this category is appropriately named because the individual is blind to how he or she is perceived by others.
4. Unknown. In this category, adjectives placed here are not selected by the individual or the group. This may be because the adjective in not appropriate to describe the individual, or else neither the individual nor the group has been made aware of the existence of these traits. The potential to be described by any adjective in the unknown category remains open.
Depending on the results of the Johari window, individuals may need to make adjustments in their communication styles and behavior choices in order to more effectively convey the things they want others to know about themselves, or the things they want to change outright. Consider the benefits of conducting the Johari window assessment at your next team retreat. It can be a fun and highly rewarding exercise from which all players can derive benefit.