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The Johari Window model: A feedback model of self-awareness


The Johari Window model is a psychological test that sets out to improve self-awareness and relations within a group – and between groups. Mike Cameron explains how it works – and how quarries could potentially implement it in their operations.

The Johari Window model was created in 1955 by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham as a non-intrusive and empirical method of self-discovery, during a group dynamics program in the University of California. Luft and Ingham named their model “Johari” using a combination of their first names but it is sometimes referred to as an information processing tool or disclosure/feedback model of self-awareness.

The model is based on two fundamental concepts:

1. Trust can be acquired by revealing information about yourself to others.

2.  You gain unknown, and perhaps, enlightening insights about yourselves from the feedback you receive from others.

The Johari Window Model is a widely used model for understanding and training self-awareness, personal development, improving communications, interpersonal relationships, group dynamics, team development and inter-group relationships.

I frequently utilise the Johari Window, in both my workshop and one-on-one coaching sessions to create an atmosphere of safety and trust. I start by sharing a fairly well known piece of information about myself and I check that everyone was already aware of those facts. I then tell the person or group something about myself that is unlikely to be known by them. Depending on the situation, this may be quite a revealing piece of information, and I then ask them to share, or reveal, something about myself that I either do not already know or do not believe is common knowledge, eg I may not be aware that I have a personal idiosyncrasy of playing with coins in my pocket when making a presentation. 

Through their willingness to share this quirk with me, I have learnt something about myself that was previously unknown and I can take appropriate action, if necessary. After duly thanking the person, or persons, you have the opportunity to go through the same process with them and improve your perceptions about them. It is an enlightening and simple technique to encourage open and congruent discussion.

In simple terms, the Johari Window model offers an opportunity for improved self-awareness and personal development among individuals when they are in a group – through better understanding of their relationship with themselves and others – while enhancing their perceptions on those others.

The model is represented as a common window with four panes (Figure 1). Two of these panes represent self and the other two panes represent the parts unknown to self but to others.

Information transfers from one pane to the other –  as shown by the arrows – is due to the open disclosure that results from the mutual trust which has been established, through joint feedback and socialising amongst other members of the group, prior to the exercise.


The model comprises the following panes:

Pane # 1. Open/self-area or free area. The information shared here is about the person, their attitudes, behaviour, emotions, feelings, skills and views. It will be known by the person as well as by others.

Since Pane # 1 represents the area where all communication occurs, the larger it becomes the more effectual and dynamic the relationship will be.

Actively seeking feedback from others, and listening for understanding is a key to decreasing your blind spots while increasing the open area for trustworthy communication. Through openly revealing more about oneself to the other person, the size of this pane can also be increased by moving it downwards into the hidden areas of Pane # 3 and across into the unknown areas of Pane # 4 .

Pane # 2. Blind/self-area or blind spot. This represents Information about you, that other people in that group may know, but of which you will be totally unaware. Others may see, interpret, read, feel or think differently about you than you expect. These blind spots in your self-awareness are reduced when you seek honest, and constructive feedback from others.

Pane # 3. Hidden area or façade. This represents the area that is kept for information that is known to you but that information will remain unknown to others unless you share it with them. This area usually holds personal information, including feelings, fears, secrets, past experiences, etc, which you feel reluctant to reveal. Sometimes feelings and personal information is considered too sensitive or strictly private, since its disclosure may have an impact on those relationships. However, in a trustworthy environment that seeks open communication, it is important to reduce this hidden area with open disclosure that move hidden facts into Pane # 1, the ever increasing open areas.

Pane # 4. Unknown area. This represents the area where information, about which neither you nor others are unaware, is stored. It includes the information, feelings, capabilities, talents, etc, which may be due to traumatic past experiences or events which can be unknown for a lifetime, or you may be totally unaware of these facts, or information, until at some stage you discover – or others recognise and/or observe –  hidden talents, innate qualities or untried capabilities.

Open communication is also an effective way to decrease the unknown area and thus open you and the group to move effective and rewarding communication. •

Mike Cameron is an IQA member and the principal of Strategically Yours. Visit

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