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Tools for discovery…

I’ve been working with a team recently and in one of our sessions, we used the Johari window to explore team interactions.

Essentially the Johari window is a tool to help better understand relationships. It was created by psychologists Joseph Luft (the Jo in Johari) and Harrington Ingham (the ‘hari’ in the name).

The hands of three women reach in and meet at a central point, piled one over the other. Brightly coloured objects can be seen below.

I took the group through the Johari window framework. The model works using four quadrants, with things that are known to you on one axis, and things that are known to others on the other. 

The four sections are:

  • Arena’ (or open – things that are known to you and to others)
  • Blind spot’ (things that are known to others, but not to you)
  • Hidden’ (things that are known to you, but not others) 
  • Unknown’ (those things that are not known to you or others)
A whiteboard drawing of the four johari sections - four squares with a section name in each.

The aim is to maximise the ‘arena’ (although balancing that with over-sharing everything about yourself).

We started the session with sharing, using questions cards from the School of Life to help prompt, such as:

  • When did you last cry with pain or sadness?
  • Is there an art to loading the dishwasher?
  • If you could only have one medium, which would you choose: art, film, literature, music?
  • When do you feel shy?
  • What’s the kindest thing anyone’s ever done for you?
  • When did you last throw your head back in laughter?

This activity helped to open up the ‘hidden’ section – the group learned about each others hobbies, networks and relationships, good and bad habits, personal goals, guilty pleasures, fears and some profound experiences. This involved some vulnerability and the group experimented with showing more of themselves in an environment of trust.

We then explored ‘blind spots’ and how we could help each other by – gently, positively and constructively – pointing out any blind spots. Some of the possible blind spots identified includes behaviours, body language, preconceptions or assumptions, strengths, coping mechanisms, confidence to do things, influence and boundaries.

To explore this further, we did use the ‘feed forward’ model – something I have written about previously.

The team then discussed how they could continue to build on some of these skills. They identified continuing to have conversations and listening to each other, as well as incorporating the feed forward into team meetings and role modelling being vulnerable with their teams.

At the end of the session, the team reflected that:

  • It was valuable to get perspective in a different way.
  • We’re a team and we should continue to come together as a team.
  • Sometimes we feel distant but there’s lots of wisdom and experience – we can all learn from each other.
  • I can be easier on myself – start prioritising, say no, press pause.

The key with the Johari window – just like any other tool – is to experiment with it. Work out some different ways you can share more about yourself with your colleagues, and, at the same time, how you can share feedback (or feed forward!) with them.

What are your favourite tools for self or team discovery? Are there some experiments you could use to grow your ‘arena’ at work or in your community? Or how you can provide feedback to others around you? I’d love to hear how you do it – let me know.

'Ideas to Action' is written in red fond and sits centred above a graphic of a quarter black circle on the bottom-left and a quarter circle of horizontal lines on the bottom-right.

Ideas to Action

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