How to Build More Self-Awareness & a Stronger Culture Using the Johari Window

Marissa Levin
Marissa Levin
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It’s no secret that emotional intelligence and self-awareness are two of the most important leadership characteristics. The ability to read verbal & non-verbal cues, control emotions, and compassionately empathize with others are necessities for building & sustaining any healthy relationship.

One of the most effective tools for developing self-awareness and opening up lines of communication with others is the Johari Window. I first learned about the Johari Window during an Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) retreat facilitated by Alana Winter, Founder & CEO of Transformative Forum.

Invented by Psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, the Johari Window help us to understand self-awareness and the human interaction that results from our personal self-awareness. We are often unaware of how others perceive us, how we present ourselves to others, and even how well we know ourselves. Luft and Ingham created this model because they believed that what happens in our life depends upon our own self-awareness, and the awareness others have of us.

The premise behind the window is that there are certain things which we know, and things we do not know about ourselves. Similarly, there are certain things others know and do not know. Thus, at any given point of time in life, we may see our total being as we understand it and as others know about it in a true sense through the 4-paned Johari window.

In the explanatory diagram, all panes look equal but in reality that is not the case. The openness of each pane will vary depending on your own personal level of:

  • How well you know yourself
  • How much you share about yourself with others
  • How well others know you

johari window












Here are two more realistic examples of Johari Windows.

Johari Window of Someone with High Self-Awareness and High Trust

The more self-aware you are, the bigger your windows on the left side of the pane will be.









Johari Window of Someone with Low Self-Awareness and Low Trust

The less self-aware, you are, the bigger your windows on the bottom, and on the right will be.









Applying the Johari Window to Teams

In my learning context, I’m a member of group of 7 business owners, known as a Forum. Our forum takes an annual retreat, where we hire a professional facilitator to conduct exercises that help us build greater trust and explore any known or unknown issues that may hold us back from our deepest and most impactful communication & connection.

By examining how open or closed our personal window panes are in the context of our forum, we are able to collectively work on opening our personal Open window panes, thereby closing our Hidden and Blind panes. When one pane opens more, the other panes automatically close more. The more intentional we are with our own self-awareness, and the more we trust our other team members, the more we can expand our Open windows.

The Open Frame

When using the Johari Window in your organizational teams, the goal should be to develop the Open area as much as possible for each team member. When we work in this area, we are operating in our most productive and effective space individually and as a group. Working in this area results in open, honest, & transparent communication, and minimizes miscommunication, mistrust, & confusion.

New team members often have smaller open areas than established team members. They need time to learn about others, and to share information about themselves.

The Johari Window can serve as an important instrument in establishing a culture of open communication. Encouraging continuous development of the ‘open area’ or ‘open self’ for everyone by making it safe for others to share information is an essential aspect of effective leadership.

The Blind Frame

The Blind frame represents information that is known about a person to others, but is not known to himself/herself. This is known as their “blind spot.” Everyone has blind spots. By soliciting feedback, and by being open to feedback by others, we become more aware of how others perceive us, and we shrink our blind spot. This leads to stronger communication and trust.

The Hidden Frame

The Hidden frame represents information that person intentionally hides from others. As a person’s trust grows, they will increasingly disclose greater information, thereby closing this window and opening the Open window.

The Unknown Frame

The Unknown frame represents information that neither the person nor the other group members know. This information may come to light through self-development and experiences. Organizations that promote cultures of self-discovery and learning create opportunities for employees to close this window as they develop greater self-awareness.

The Johari Window is an outstanding tool to use to open up communications and develop strong teams in your organizations. They support cultures of trust, safety, and transparency.

Please reach out to Successful Culture for more information on how to use the Johari Window, and assistance in implementing the model to strengthen your organization.

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About Successful Culture

We work with business owners, CEOs, and leadership teams that want to achieve their greatest personal & organizational potential. Through coaching, strategic consulting, retreat facilitation, and workshops, we equip leaders & emerging leaders with the mindset, tools, strategies, and processes they need to excel.

Connect with me on Instagram, Facebook, Linked In, and Twitter.

Please check out my Inc. Magazine columns on my Author Page too.

Learn about the 12 Habits of Horrible Leaders, and How to Break Them.

Wishing you joy and success on your journey!

In gratitude,

Marissa Levin
CEO, Successful Culture
“Taking Leaders from Triage to Transformation.”
[email protected]


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