When I start talking to people about personal growth, I’m often aware of how nebulous that phrase sounds. What is personal growth? What does that actually mean? And how do we know when we’re doing it? I don’t like doing things for the sake of them so I’ve tried to get as clear as possible on what personal growth looks like and how I know when I’m “doing” it. In this post, I want to share a framework I’ve found helpful for this called The Johari Window. I hope it’s helpful for you too!
The Johari Window sounds exotic, but the name is a portmanteau of its creators: Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham. They created this framework in the 1950s and developed an exercise designed to deepen our awareness of the parts of ourselves we show, those we hide, and how we perceive ourselves compared to how others perceive us.
In the traditional exercises, subjects are given a list of 57 adjectives to choose from to describe themselves. Then, their peers are given the same list of adjectives and asked to choose those that best describe the subject:
- Adjectives selected by both parties go in the Open/Arena box.
- Adjectives selected just by the subject go in the Hidden/Facade box.
- Adjectives selected by peers and not by subjects go in the “Blind” box.
- Any remaining adjectives not chosen by either parts go into the “Unknown” box.
Exploring your Johari Window
1. Write down the aspects of yourself you believe are in the open area. Include adjectives you’d use to describe yourself, your values, passions, what’s important to you and anything else that feels relevant.
2. Ask 5 people who know you well to share their own list about you. Questions you can use include:
- What do you value about our relationship?
- What do you think my top 3 qualities are?
- What would you say I’m passionate about?
3. Compare the two lists. Write the adjectives other people used to describe you that you mentioned too in the open area. Write the adjectives others used to describe you that you didn’t mention yourself in the blind spot area. Finally, write everything you wrote about yourself that others didn’t mention in the “hidden” quadrant.
What do you notice about the distribution of your window? Is there anything in the hidden or blind spot window that is a surprise? How do you think you can embrace or show more of these aspects of yourself?
We can also use this tool for our personal reference, to get a sense of what personal growth is all about. Part of becoming who we are is expanding the open area in the direction of the arrows inside the box. It’s also about diminishing the blind area and unknown area through feedback and self-discovery. At the same time, reducing the size of our hidden area through unpacking feelings and beliefs around our shadow side and becoming more comfortable with self-disclosure also helps us nurture deeper intimacy and closeness within our personal relationships.
Have you tried using the Johari Window? What did you learn? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!
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