The New Johari Window: Exploring the Unconscious Processes of Interpersonal Relationships and the Coaching Engagement

William Bergquist October 4, 2011 0
The New Johari Window: Exploring the Unconscious Processes of Interpersonal Relationships and the Coaching Engagement

In this excerpt from an upcoming book that updates a widely known and used model of interpersonal relationships (the “Johari Window”) the author focuses on the fourth quadrant of the Window which deals with aspects of self and interpersonal relationships that are known neither to self or other. Bergquist extends the original concepts offered by the Johari Window co-author (Joseph Luft) by introducing other models of intrapersonal and interpersonal processes and recent research findings that reveal many of the most important dynamics operating in this “unconscious” realm of interpersonal relationship.

Most of us have heard of the Johari Window and assume that it somehow came out of the blue or from heaven if we happen to admire and use this insightful model of interpersonal relationships. There is an author and there is a book. The person is Joe Luft. The book is On Human Interaction.  Actually, Joe Luft isn’t the only author and On Human Interaction is not really the source of the Johari Window. The Johari Window was presented first at a human relations conference held in Ojai California during the 1950s.  As is typical of this type of high-level and high-powered conferences, senior staff members were asked by the conference dean to prepare brief presentations that relate specifically to the dynamic events emerging from the intense interpersonal experiences of the conference. At this particular Ojai conference, two of the senior staff members—Joe Luft and Harrington Ingram—were asked to prepare a presentation on interpersonal relationships that would be presented the following morning at a general session. Joe and Harrington sat down with a flip chart page and magic marker in hand to prepare this presentation. On a now-fabled tree stump they sketched out a four cell model of interpersonal relationships that focused on the degree to which two people are open with one another in sharing their thoughts and feelings (especially about one another).

Luft and Ingram presented their model the following morning and then went their own separate ways without much fanfare. One year later, Luft was attending another human relations conference and was approached by a conference participant who wanted Joe to make a presentation on the “Joe-Harry Window”. Luft had no idea what this person was talking about and remained bewildered until the participant began describing the four cell model that Joe had presented a year earlier with Ingram. Apparently, several of the Ojai participants found the four cell model to be insightful and began using this model in their own training. An informal authorship was assigned to the model (soon to be shortened to “Johari”). Since it had four cells and looked like a window, the model became known as the “Johari Window.”

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