We are constantly looking for ways to enhance the feedback that you’re able to collect through peer.haus. Through probing our network and collecting feedback of our own, I was recently introduced to The Johari Window. After seeing it in action, we knew that the Johari Window was exactly the kind of tool peer.haus users need at their disposal.

The Johari Window is a self-discovery mechanism that not only adds another tool to your toolbelt but it actively enhances the quality of feedback you’re able to collect in the future. It acts as a feedback investment vehicle because of it’s ability to unearth misconceptions you have about your communication skills while shedding light on personal qualities that you may not know you possess.

How it works

The Johari Window is a simple way of surveying peers on traits that they believe you possess and then comparing their perception with your own.

Everyone is shown the same list of adjectives, or traits, and given a subject, or peer. They are then tasked with looking at each adjective and determining whether or not it describes the subject. The subject is also shown the same list of adjectives and submits their own self-assessment.

The results are graphed using a two-by-two grid of four adjacent quadrants, or “window”, where each quadrant, or “pane”, represents a logical product of your answers compared with that of your peers. Each quadrant is assigned a category or meaning. Going clockwise starting from the top left, they are: Open area (or Arena), Blindspot, Unknown, and Façade (or Hidden).

Johari Window

The adjectives belonging to each quadrant tell a story about the peers’ perception of the subject at that point in time. Like a window (pun intended) into the working relationship of the subject and their peers, you can learn a lot about the way you are perceived and improve your efficacy within the group. Over time, with repeated exercises, the Johari Window can prove to be a great tool for self-discovery.

How to make sense of the results

Before I elaborate on each quadrant, a visualization that helped me understand the meaning of the quadrants is this one:

Johari Window labeled

Unknown Area

The Unknown quadrant contains all of the adjectives not chosen by the subject or their peers, making this area the “cutting room floor” of the exercise.

These traits could be unknown to the subject for many reasons that are difficult to speculate on. The goal of this area is to identify traits that you could benefit from picking up. Shrinking the Unknown area is a positive thing.

A tried and true method of shrinking this area is a combination of soliciting feedback, sharing your feelings and experiences with others, and learning from those around you.

Blindspot Area

In the Blindspot sit the adjectives that were chosen by peers but not chosen by the subject. These are aspects about the subject that they don’t see in themselves. This could be due to the subject having picked up traits that are subconsciously expressed or that are just second nature to them.

You want to understand yourself fully so your goal should be to decrease this quadrant by getting adjectives to move from the Blindspot to the Open area (more on this in the Open area section).

Façade Area

The Façade quadrant (also known as the Hidden area) harbors all of the adjectives chosen by the subject but not chosen by their peers. A large Façade quadrant indicates a reluctance to open up about what makes you tick.

It is always acceptable to be guarded about some aspects of your personality; there is nothing wrong with separating work from your personal life. However, there is such a thing as being too guarded. Your peers want to understand you and learn how best to communicate with you. Because of this, you should strive to shrink this quadrant by getting adjectives to move from the Façade quadrant to the Open area (more on this in the Open area section).

Open Area

The Open area quadrant (also known as the Arena) contains the adjectives chosen by both the subject and one or more of their peers. This is the comfortable, open air between you and your colleagues where there are no surprises. This quadrant reflects the behaviors most present in your day-to-day communications. As a result, the more populated this quadrant becomes the more effective you are at communicating your thoughts and ideas with the group.

Your first attempt at the Johari Window exercise will give you a baseline for the Open area you’ve established with your peers. Focusing on growing this quadrant by moving adjectives from the Blindspot and Façade areas is the goal.

Horizontal Growth: Shrinking Your Blindspot

Over the course of multiple exercises, seeing an adjective move out of your Blindspot and into the Open area is a positive result known as “horizontal growth”. Routinely requesting feedback from your peers is a great habit for this very reason: it allows you to learn more about yourself. The best way to see horizontal growth is to solicit feedback from your peers, either face-to-face or through a platform like peer.haus.

Vertical Growth: Breaking Down a Façade

If you see an adjective move out of the Façade quadrant and into the Open area, you have improved yourself in a manner known as “vertical growth”. Vertical growth takes place when you open up to your peers about your feelings & the things that you tend to closely guard. Sharing experiences with one another builds a bond that can’t easily be torn by minor unfortunate circumstances like a busted deadline or a project gone awry.

We believe that identifying your strengths and weakness shouldn’t be a challenging feat. With peer.haus, we aim to increase the open area within teams around the globe.

If you would like to give the Johari Window a try, we invite you to sign up for a free account at peer.haus/login.

Creating a Johari Window Question in peer.haus