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Unlocking Self and Team Potential: A Guide to the Johari Window

The Johari Window, developed in 1955 by American psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham, is a tool designed to improve self-understanding and interpersonal relationships. Named after a combination of its creators' first names (Jo+Hari), this tool highlights their collaborative effort. It employs a comprehensive feedback process, known as a 360-degree evaluation, to compare an individual's self-view with perceptions from different people in their life. This straightforward yet impactful framework is widely utilized in personal growth, team development, and leadership training to bolster communication and enhance group dynamics (Saxena, 2015).

This article was originally published on Arete Coach and has been re-written and approved for placement by Arete Coach on ePraxis. Scroll to continue reading or click here to read the original article.

Context and Purpose

The Johari Window encourages transparency and openness, resulting in improved understanding and relationships within groups. It is particularly effective in settings where trust-building and effective communication are essential for teamwork and productivity. The model is based on two key ideas: first, that we have hidden aspects of ourselves unknown to others, and second, that there are unknown elements about ourselves that we aren't aware of but others are.

Professors Shreekumar Nair and Neelima Naik from the National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE) in Mumbai found that the majority of participants who completed the Johari Window exercise previously lacked exposure and feedback in their interactions with others, underscoring the Window's role in enhancing self-awareness for constructive interactions (Saxena, 2015).

The Four Quadrants

The Johari Window is divided into four quadrants, each representing different aspects of our personality based on what is known or unknown to us and others:

  • Open Area (Arena): Information about ourselves that both we and others know. This includes behaviors, skills, attitudes, and experiences that are openly communicated and observed.

  • Blind Area (Blind Spot): Information that is unknown to us but known to others. This can include habits, unspoken reactions, or hidden talents.

  • Hidden Area (Facade): Information that we are aware of but opt to keep hidden from others. This can include sensitive information, fears, hidden feelings, and secrets.

  • Unknown Area: Information that is unknown to both ourselves and others. This can include latent abilities, unconscious motives, or repressed experiences.(Saxena, 2015)

Running the Exercise

In a group setting, the Johari Window exercise can be facilitated through a process of feedback and disclosure. Here’s a simplified way to conduct it:

  • Self-Assessment: Individuals pick from a list of adjectives those that they feel describe their personality.

  • Peer Assessment: Group members then select adjectives that they believe describe the individual. In cases where peer group assessments are not possible, it is recommended that the individual asks up to five people including their partner, family members, colleagues, and friends to select adjectives that describe them.

  • Reveal and Discussion: The facilitator compares the selected adjectives, revealing them to the group. Adjectives known to both the individual and others fall into the Open Area, those chosen only by others into the Blind Spot, and those chosen only by the individual into the Hidden Area.

Application in Group Settings

Open Area

The main goal in a group setting is to expand the Open Area for each member. This is achieved through self-disclosure (sharing information about oneself) and feedback (learning how others see us). The Johari Window facilitates a safe environment for feedback and self-disclosure, encouraging individuals to explore their Blind Spots and reduce their Hidden Areas, thereby enhancing mutual understanding and collaboration.

Approaching the "Open Area" within the context of the Johari Window exercise is pivotal for enhancing communication, building trust, and fostering collaboration within a group. The Open Area, also known as the Arena, represents the information, behaviors, feelings, and motivations that are known both to the individual and to others in the group. Expanding this area is beneficial for personal development and effective team dynamics, as it leads to a more transparent and open environment.

Understanding the Open Area

  • Definition: The Open Area contains all the things about ourselves that we are aware of and are willing to share with others. This includes our knowledge, skills, attitudes, and past experiences that are visible to our peers.

  • Importance: Expanding the Open Area improves understanding and cooperation within a team. It reduces misunderstandings and conflicts, as more information is available to everyone, making interactions smoother and more effective.

Strategies for Expanding the Open Area

  • Encourage Self-Disclosure: One of the primary methods to enlarge the Open Area is through self-disclosure. This involves willingly sharing personal information, feelings, and experiences with others. Activities that facilitate sharing stories or personal insights can help individuals reveal more about themselves to the group.

  • Foster a Culture of Feedback: Constructive feedback is essential for personal and professional growth. Encouraging an environment where feedback is regularly given and received can help uncover blind spots and hidden talents, further expanding the Open Area.

  • Active Listening and Observation: Paying close attention to others’ verbal and non-verbal cues can enhance understanding and empathy within the group.

  • Participative Decision-Making: Involving team members in decision-making processes not only leverages the diverse perspectives within the group but also increases the Open Area by sharing reasoning, concerns, and aspirations openly.

  • Team-Building Activities: Engaging in exercises and games that require cooperation and open communication can break down barriers between team members, encouraging sharing and transparency.

Benefits of an Expanded Open Area

  • Improved Communication: With more information shared openly, communication becomes more straightforward and effective, reducing the chances of misinterpretation and conflict.

  • Increased Trust: Openness and vulnerability lead to deeper trust among team members, as individuals feel more comfortable sharing and relying on each other.

  • Enhanced Collaboration: A larger Open Area means that team members have a better understanding of each other’s skills, weaknesses, and working styles, leading to more effective collaboration.

  • Greater Cohesion and Morale: Teams with expanded Open Areas tend to have members who feel understood and valued.

Blind Spots

Addressing Blind Spots within the context of the Johari Window is essential for personal growth, improved communication, and stronger relationships within a team. Blind Spots refer to the aspects of our behavior, skills, and attitudes that we are not aware of, but which are apparent to others. Identifying and understanding these hidden facets can significantly contribute to an individual's self-awareness and effectiveness in both personal and professional spheres.

Understanding Blind Spots

  • Definition: Blind Spots are the things about us that we don't see, but others can. This can range from simple habits to complex behaviors and attitudes that might affect our interactions and performance.

  • Importance: Addressing Blind Spots is crucial for self-improvement. Recognizing and understanding these areas can lead to enhanced decision-making, leadership, and interpersonal relationships.

Strategies for Addressing Blind Spots

  • Seeking Feedback: Actively asking for and being open to feedback from peers, mentors, and supervisors is a direct way to uncover Blind Spots. Regular performance reviews, 360-degree feedback, and informal conversations can provide insights into areas for improvement.

  • Creating a Safe Environment for Feedback: Building a culture where giving and receiving constructive feedback is normalized and encouraged can help individuals feel more comfortable addressing their Blind Spots. This involves establishing trust and ensuring that feedback is given in a supportive and helpful manner.

  • Reflective Practice: Engaging in self-reflection and mindfulness can help individuals become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, including those they might not initially recognize. Journaling, meditation, and reflective exercises can aid in this process.

  • Professional Coaching: Working with a coach can provide an external, unbiased perspective on an individual's behaviors and attitudes. Coaches can help identify Blind Spots and develop strategies to address them effectively.

  • Leveraging Peer Support: Peers can be invaluable in helping to identify and understand Blind Spots. Establishing peer mentoring or support groups can facilitate open discussions about personal and professional development.

Benefits of Addressing Blind Spots

  • Enhanced Self-Awareness: Recognizing and understanding Blind Spots is a key component of self-awareness, leading to more informed choices and actions.

  • Improved Relationships: By addressing behaviors or attitudes that may affect others negatively, individuals can build stronger, more positive relationships with colleagues and peers.

  • Increased Effectiveness: Understanding and working on Blind Spots can lead to improved performance, as individuals adjust their behaviors to be more in line with their goals and the expectations of others.

  • Personal and Professional Growth: Addressing and overcoming Blind Spots is an ongoing process that contributes significantly to personal development and professional advancement.

Hidden Area

The "Hidden Area," also known as the "Facade," in the Johari Window, refers to the parts of ourselves that we know about but decide to keep confidential from others. This includes feelings, thoughts, fears, and past experiences that an individual may not feel comfortable or safe to share within a group setting. Addressing the Hidden Area is crucial for personal growth and enhancing group dynamics, as it involves balancing the need for privacy with the benefits of openness and vulnerability.

Understanding the Hidden Area

  • Definition: The Hidden Area comprises information, emotions, and motivations that an individual knows about themselves but does not disclose to others, often due to fear of judgment, vulnerability, or lack of trust.

  • Importance: Reducing the Hidden Area can lead to deeper connections and trust within a team, as it encourages a culture of openness and authenticity. Sharing more personal aspects can foster empathy, understanding, and stronger bonds among team members.

Strategies for Reducing the Hidden Area

  • Promote a Safe Environment: Creating a supportive and non-judgmental space is essential for individuals to feel comfortable sharing more personal or sensitive information. This includes establishing clear norms around confidentiality and respect.

  • Encourage Incremental Sharing: Encourage team members to share at their own pace, recognizing that comfort levels vary. Small steps toward openness can gradually build trust and confidence in the safety of the group.

  • Lead by Example: Leaders and team members who openly share their own vulnerabilities and personal stories can set a precedent, demonstrating the value and safety of sharing in the group.

  • Facilitate Private Conversations: Sometimes, individuals may be more willing to open up in one-on-one conversations rather than in a group setting. Providing opportunities for private discussions can help bridge the gap to wider group sharing.

  • Offer Support and Understanding: Responding with empathy, understanding, and support when individuals do choose to share can reinforce the safety and acceptance of the group environment, encouraging others to open up.

Benefits of Reducing the Hidden Area

  • Improved Trust and Authenticity: As individuals share more about themselves, trust deepens, and relationships become more authentic, enhancing group cohesion and support.

  • Increased Self-Awareness: The process of deciding what to share often involves reflection and self-examination, which can lead to greater self-awareness and personal growth.

  • Enhanced Group Dynamics: A reduced Hidden Area leads to a more open and honest communication style, improving problem-solving, creativity, and collaboration within the team.

  • Stronger Emotional Connections: Sharing personal experiences and vulnerabilities allows for deeper emotional connections and empathy among team members, contributing to a more supportive and cohesive group.


When executive coaches plan to implement the Johari Window in group settings, beyond the discussed considerations above, they should also account for the following critical factors to ensure the exercise's effectiveness and relevance for all participants:

Cultural Sensitivity and Diversity

  • Cultural Norms: Recognize that cultural backgrounds significantly influence individuals' willingness to share personal information and their perception of feedback. Coaches should tailor their approach to respect and accommodate these differences.

  • Diversity in Communication Styles: Be aware of the diverse communication styles that exist within a group, ensuring that the exercise respects and adapts to these differences rather than enforcing a one-size-fits-all approach.

Psychological Safety

  • Establishing Trust: Before diving into the exercise, it's crucial to establish a strong foundation of trust. Participants must feel safe to share and receive information without fear of negative repercussions.

  • Handling Sensitive Information: Coaches should have strategies in place to manage situations where sensitive or potentially harmful information is shared, ensuring it does not negatively impact the individual or the group dynamics.

Individual Readiness and Consent

  • Voluntary Participation: Make it clear that participation is voluntary, especially when it comes to self-disclosure. Participants should never feel coerced into sharing more than they are comfortable with.

  • Readiness Assessment: Assess each participant's readiness for the exercise, as not everyone may be at a point where such an activity would be beneficial. Tailoring interventions to the readiness and comfort levels of participants can prevent potential discomfort or harm.

Personal Boundaries and Privacy

  • Respecting Boundaries: Emphasize the importance of respecting personal boundaries. Not all information needs to be shared, and individuals should feel in control of what they choose to disclose.

  • Privacy Concerns: Ensure that any information shared during the exercise remains confidential within the group, reinforcing the trust and safety needed for the exercise to be effective.

Follow-Up and Support

  • Providing Resources: Offer resources and support for individuals who may uncover or share challenging aspects of themselves during the exercise. This could include professional counseling services or peer support groups.

  • Action Planning: Assist participants in developing action plans to address any discoveries made during the exercise, ensuring that insights lead to constructive personal and professional development.

Integration with Broader Development Programs

  • Alignment with Goals: Ensure that the Johari Window exercise aligns with the broader goals of the group or organization's development programs. It should be a complementary tool that supports overall objectives, not a standalone activity.

  • Continuous Learning: Encourage an ongoing process of self-discovery and mutual feedback beyond the exercise, fostering a culture of continuous learning and development.


Saxena, P. (2015). Johari window: An effective model for improving interpersonal communication and managerial effectiveness. SIT Journal of Management, 5(2), 134-146.

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