Johari Window

The Johari window is a 4 part diagram which follows a technique that helps people better understand what they know about themselves and others.

It was created by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in 1955 and is used primarily in self-help groups and organisational settings as a reasonably quick activity exercise

Box 1:

This box is often referred to as “Open” or “Arena” as the knowledge is literally open in the arena.  The box represents the knowledge that is known to the individual and also to those around them. This information is shared happily at no emotional cost to the person sharing it (other than positive) and will probably have been shared through conversations and other communication, including social media, interviews, records, and possibly through third-party discussions about the person with others.

Box 2:

This box is usually called “Blind” or “Blind Spot”, as the person is quite literally blind to its contents. This box represents information about the person that is known by others but not by the individual. This could include both positive and negative things, such as their go-getter attitude, how they sometimes behave when they have been triggered by a negative emotion, how they treat others, their time keeping and so on. These things can be really important for feedback, future development and improvement.

In terms of EI, this is a critical box. We can only become self-aware with the help of others and their honest feedback to us.

If we, as colleagues, managers, or leaders, do not know how we are received, how on earth can we develop and improve? We need to give others our full permission to help us become more self-aware (hence the need for trust) so that we fully understand how our behaviours impact the behaviours of those around us. (This is true for home and social life).

Box 3:

This box is usually known as “Hidden” as we have purposely “hidden” these things from others.

These things may include private things that no one in work would normally be privy to, which is fine. But some of the things we hide are necessary for Social Awareness to work fully.

For example. If I am worried about a big presentation I have to give and I don’t tell anyone, how can I get support? We need to be emotionally intelligent and push past the emotion of worry (will I be thought of as weak or incapable)? When we share such things with others (putting them into box 1), we can receive help and understanding from this around us. “This” is why trust is critical!

In organisations, innovation is important, and some not only survive but prosper from it. If we feel that we can’t offer our honest thoughts and opinions and say what we believe needs to be said because of fear, we hold back that which is the very essence of innovation and change.

(See our thinking on ES² (Emotional Security & Emotional Safety) and why it is critical in helping with the contents of this box and Social Awareness too).

Click here to open our paper on ES² in a new window.

Box 4:

This box is usually known as “Unknown” as the contents are hidden from both the person and also to everybody else. And yes, this sparks the question, “So how does anything ever get in there”?

The answer is that lots of things are in there already, but as soon as they become known or realised, they move into another box. Here is an example:

Gurung is a superb golfer, and he is renowned for his extraordinary driving skills. He was asked to teach his skills to a group of willing apprentices who had been identified as potentially great golfers.

Gurung did this, and after a period of months, the apprentices became skilled, but none even come close to his driving abilities despite 3 of them being larger and stronger than he is. This became a conundrum for both Gurung, his friends and his now highly skilled apprentices.

One day a reporter, who was reporting on his great driving skills, asked Gurung if he could video him and use some of the stills from the video as pictures in his article. Gurung said yes, of course.

When the reporter was replaying the video, he noticed something which he couldn’t understand. The reporter played the recording in slow motion and saw that as Gurung came through the lower part of his driving swing, his body seemed to twist sharply and quickly, but just a tiny bit.

When the reporter asked Gurung about this, he said he had never noticed it before, so the reporter showed him the slow-motion clip. As it turned out, this sudden involuntary movement was due to a hip operation he had undergone a few years back. It was this sudden movement which added to the driving technique, but both Gurung and all others were unaware of it until now.

So all this time, this knowledge had existed, but only in Box 4, as no one knew of it. It was only when it was realised by the reporter that it became known, at which point it went into Box 2, as only the reporter knew of it. When the reporter told Gurung about it, then it went into Box 1, as both he and the reporter knew of it.   

The contents of Box 4 may also include things such as subconscious information that no one is aware of, such as early childhood memories, undiscovered talents and skills, which will only become known when the person has a go at them.

The arrow between Box 2 and Box 3 is to emphasise that we must give permission to others to inform us about things we are not yet aware of and that we must open up and share with others things which worry, concern, frustrate and prevent us from saying what we want to say. Only then will we become truly self-aware and help others to become self-aware too.

“Authenticity is when we are honest with ourselves and others”

(Mac Macdonald - 2020)

View as a pdf and download this document by clicking here.

A model of Johari Window.
A couple of people chatting.
A man with a mask which shows a smile, whilst his true face is not happy.
A box with a surprise gift.
Different coloured hands joining together as one.
An iceberg showing the upper half as conscious and the lower half as unconscious.