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

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

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Step Three: Engaging

To the extent that we encourage our clients to actively engage material in their fourth quadrant, they are in some way moving backward—at least as viewed by the outside world. We are inviting our clients to venture back in time–to a previous point in their life. They are likely to spend time talking about their own childhood (as my sister, brother and I did in talking about our parents’ differing socio-economic backgrounds). The engagement of Quad Four material is likely to appear regressive because this material is usually primitive in nature. Simple, but powerful thoughts and feelings, such as envy and naïve hopefulness, that are usually neither expressed nor even acknowledged, can be brought to conscious awareness and discussed.

It is understandable that one would want to back away from this material, given it’s primitive and socially unacceptable nature. After all, that’s why it was stored in Quad Four in the first place. This regression, however, is quite healthy and enriching. Psychodynamic theorists and psychotherapists often use the term “regression-in-the-service-of-the-Ego” when speaking of this engagement of Quad Four material. As implied by this term, regression can be of great value to reality-based functions (the Ego) in that we now have greater access to our own fundamental beliefs and assumptions. We can more readily correct our own biases and can more effectively address the conflict-filled interpersonal relationships in which we find ourselves. Most importantly, we can live more comfortably with ourselves, having brought some of the “demons” to the surface and having discovered that these demons are not overwhelming. They are terrifying and powerful, but not impossible to confront. We can encourage our clients to assume an internal locus of control with regard to all four of our quadrants—at least that’s how it looks from the somewhat optimistic (and perhaps naïve) perspective of the organizational consulting and coaching school to which both Joe Luft and I belong.


Many books have been written about the use of unconscious (Quad Four) material—ranging from self-help books to manuals that tell us how to tap into our creative potential. There is no need to replicate the analyses or repeat the recommendations made in these books. Furthermore, neither Joe Luft’s original model nor the new model I have proposed are primarily about intrapsychic processes; rather both models are primarily concerned with interpersonal relationships—with the interplay between Quads One, Two and Three. Both Luft and I have focused on Quad Four not because this is where most interpersonal dynamics reside, but because Quad Four influences the dynamics operating in the other three quadrants. Both Luft and I hypothesize that Quad Four material tends to move into Quad Three and, in turn, leaks out into other people’s Quad Two or is brought intentionally or unintentionally into Quad One. It would seem, therefore, that no effective organizational coaching practice can ignore these unconscious Quad Four dynamics, for our client’s critical interpersonal relationships in an organization inevitably implicate the interwoven texture of conscious and unconscious processes.

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