Communication and Growth

The diagramJohari window to the right is called the Johari Window.  It was developed years ago by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingram for their programs in group dynamics education.  The Johari Window is a useful model for looking at both our individual communication style (interpersonal style) and the style of the particular work team of which we may be a part.

In applying the model to yourself, imagine that there are four parts to your internal or personal world.

I.  The Public Self (called the ARENA)

This is information that you know about yourself and that you easily share with other people.  This is your interpersonal “comfort zone” and is your area of mutual understanding.

II.  The Bad-Breath Area (called the BLINDSPOT)

This is information about yourself that others know about but you are unaware of. eg: “Did you know your fly was open?”

III. The Hidden Area (called the FACADE)

This is the information about yourself that you know about but keep hidden from others.  It's the interpersonal area of yourself where you have some discomfort:  “If people knew this about me (or knew that I had these thoughts and feelings), they might not accept me.”

IV.  The Growth Area (called the UNKNOWN)

Both you and others are unaware of this area within you.  It is your area of unknown potential or growth.  Of course many people find it is scary to venture into the unknown, and their potential is immediately limited.  If their potential is to do good for themselves and the planet, that's sad!

The information in all of these areas can be of any type which is relevant to the relationship.  These may be feelings, fact, assumptions, beliefs and prejudices.  The information is always changing.  In reality, your internal boxes are not equally divided, as they are in the Johari Window, nor are they always in the same proportion.  Just as you feel differently on different days, on some days you are more open than on others.

Personal Disclosure and Feedback
There are two dynamics that change and shift your internal boxes, Personal Disclosure and Feedback.  Personal Disclosure involves the open and candid expression of your feelings, factual information, guesses and the like, all delivered in a conscious attempt to share more of yourself.  This is the key interpersonal process for developing trust and inviting others to disclose more of themselves.  This is not a technique, rather it is a sincere attempt at communicating and increasing understanding.

The reason for getting feedback should be to learn more about yourself and to reduce your blind spots.  If you are open to feedback, and others are trusting enough to be candid, then personal awareness and learning can be rich.  Personal growth and development is the potential payoff as you increase your level of self-disclosure and begin to ask for feedback.   The person who keeps personal disclosure and feedback in balance, while using both to a great extent is usually interpersonally competent.  Others have called this way of being “authentic”, “self-actualising”, “congruent”, ‘non-defensive” or “trusting”.

If you cannot risk, you cannot grow.
If you cannot grow, you cannot become your best.
If you cannot become your best, you cannot be happy.
If you cannot be happy, what else matters?

-Dave Viscott

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