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What Is the Johari Window?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 05 September 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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The Johari Window is a tool used to help people understand mismatches between what they see about themselves and how others see them. It can also help subjects explore their self-expression and communication skills. Self-help organizations may facilitate exercises using a Johari Window for their members, and it is also used in business environments as part of workshops to build group communication skills and connections between staff members. The original concept was developed in the 1950s, building on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and the work of noted psychologist Carl Jung.

There are several ways to set up a Johari Window. One option is to have a participant pick a set number of terms from a list of adjectives that the person feels are self-descriptive. Other participants are asked to pick the same number of adjectives, looking for terms they think describe the person under evaluation. These are combined to provide insight into how people view themselves and how they are perceived by others.

They can be plotted on a grid that looks like a four-paned window. One pane represents adjectives picked by the participant and others, while another highlights adjectives people associate with themselves, but others do not. For example, someone may feel nervous, but others might not identify this trait. Another lists adjectives picked by others that a participant doesn’t see. The fourth pane represents unseen traits that are not visible to the participant or others.

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In addition to using a preset list, people can also be asked to generate adjectives and descriptors on their own as part of an exercise. This type of Johari Window can allow people to create a wider-ranging list of options that may more accurately describe themselves and each other. Over the course of the exercise, people solicit feedback by asking people to describe them honestly, and give it with their own assessments of other participants.

As a learning exercise, the Johari Window can help people identify areas where they may need to improve. A boss, for instance, could note that many participants use adjectives like “abrasive” or “cold,” indicating that some changes to communication style may be necessary. Conversely, someone with low self-esteem might find that other participants use positive adjectives, indicating a generally friendly and positive perception, which can help combat feelings of worthlessness or inadequacy. The process also facilitates clear communication between participants, which can be taken into the outside world to help them express themselves in interpersonal interactions.

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