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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The Original Johari Window

Joe Luft’s original model contained four quadrants that represented the total person in relation to other persons. These four quadrants also define the essential features of the New Johari Window. The following definitions and principles are substantially the same as those presented in both On Human Interaction (Luft, 1969) and his second major book, Group Processes (Luft, 1984):
Quadrant 1 (Q1): the open quadrant, refers to behavior, feelings, and motivation known to self and to others. [often called “public self”]
Quadrant 2 (Q2): the blind quadrant, refers to behavior, feelings. and motivation known to others but not to self. [often called “unaware self”]
Quadrant 3 (Q3): the hidden quadrant, refers to behavior, feelings, and motivation known to self but not to others. [often called the “private self”]
Quadrant 4 (Q4): the unknown quadrant, refers to behavior, feelings. and motivation known neither to self nor to others. [often called the “potential self”]

The original Johari awareness model was applied to questions of human interaction. These questions were brought into focus with the aid of the four quadrants. The model was then used by Joe Luft to engage in speculation. For example, what happens in a group when someone gives an unsolicited interpretation of another’s blind area? What happens to Quad 1 or Quad 3? The original model helped to clarify changes in awareness and openness as well as changes in tension, defensiveness, and hostility. Certain universal questions were addressed through the model—questions about the effect of unknowns on human interaction, trust, levels of miscommunication, ancient and primitive leadership patterns, and appropriate disclosure of self.

The New Johari Window

While the original Johari Window offers wisdom regarding human relationships that still holds true, I have modified and expanded on this Window in several ways, suggesting that wisdom contained in the original model can be expanded through additional analysis. First, I have sought to create an expanded model that is responsive to the profound shifts that are now occurring in 21st Century societies. Along with many other social analysts, I suggested in a book I wrote more than a decade ago (Bergquist, 1993) that we are moving into what might best be called a postmodern society. This shift from a modern to postmodern social system holds many implications for interpersonal relationships. In the new Johari Window model I spin out some of these implications. Second, there are important analyses and studies regarding interpersonal relationships that were offered or conducted after Luft presented his initial model. I believe it is important to incorporate these findings in the Johari model, if this model is to be truly integrative.

Third, I believe that the Johari Window will be more fully integrative if it also incorporates other major interpersonal models that fully compliment the ideas presented by Joe Luft. Some of these alternative interpersonal models can be traced back to sources from early in the 20th Century, while other models have been offered since the initial introduction of the Johari Window.  A more extended exposition of all four quadrants will be presented in a new book that I am authoring.  In this article, I focus on one of the four quadrants (Q4) and trace out its implications for organizational coaching.

The fourth quadrant is filled with paradox and enigma. It provokes convoluted questions similar to the one we all confronted in elementary school as junior philosophers: “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is present, then does it still make a sound?” In the case of our Johari Window, the question is: “How do we know Quad Four exists, if no one is aware of what’s in it?”  Even if we accept “on faith” that the tree does make a sound and that Quad Four material does exist, how do we discover what is in this quadrant and how do we appreciate the impact which Quad Four content has on the other three quadrants?

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