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The Johari Window Exercise - Increase self-awareness and team awareness

The Johari Window model is a tool for increasing self-awareness and team awareness. This exercise uncovers blind spots and promotes self discovery and personal growth.

By Gustavo Razzetti

April 29, 2019

Increase team feedback, trust, and self-awareness

In this activity, each team member will assess themselves and then each other using the Johari Window. Through this activity, each individual will learn more about themselves and how others perceive them too.

The goal of this activity is to facilitate a discussion on each team member’s strengths and blind spots, and how the team can better work together.

Our blind spots lie at the intersection of how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us. The Johari Window was developed by Psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham to help us become more self-aware.

What Is the Johari Window?

the johari window model explanation for each quadrant by gustavo razzetti from fearless culture

The Johari Window tool is ideal for increasing self-awareness. It focuses on understanding what’s visible (or not) to us and others.

It’s ideal for developing both self and team awareness.

Download your free copy of the Johari Window

ARENA: Traits and behaviors that both yourself and others are aware of. It includes anything about yourself that you are willing to share. This area drives clarity and builds trust.

MASK: Aspects about yourself that you are aware of but might not want others to know. It can also include traits that you are not sharing with others without you being aware of. What you show to others is a mask that hides your authentic self as I wrote here.

BLIND SPOTS: What others perceive, but you don’t. Important to note: not valuing your strengths can also be a blind spot. Feedback from others can make you more aware of your negative traits but also of the positive ones you are not appreciating.

UNCONSCIOUS: What’s unknown to both you and anyone else.

Though this matrix has four quadrants, the size of each is not necessarily equal. Each window pane will vary depending on:

  • How much you share with other people
  • How well others (try to) know you
  • How well you know yourself

You can expand your “Arena” area by:

  • Disclosing more about yourself, thus reducing the “Mask” area
  • Uncovering more about your “Unconscious” area
  • Becoming aware of your “Blind” area

To assess yourself and others, use 55 descriptors listed on the next section.

How to Facilitate the Johari Window Exercise

Preparation:

Download the template and share with your team members. You can also do it virtually in Mural or Miro, by simply copy/ pasting the downloaded template into a new Mural and then create as many versions as needed.

Self Assessment:

Using the following list choose 5 adjectives that best describe yourself. Be objective and honest. 

Assessing Teammates

Once everyone has finished their own self-assessment, the entire team will evaluate their colleagues. 

Assess your teammates with the same criteria you evaluated yourself. Remember to choose only 5 and to be both honest and objective. 

Fill In the Johari Window Panes

Compare this list with the list the individual generated about themselves.

  • Where an adjective appears on both lists, place it in the Arena Quadrant.
  • If an adjective appears on the individual’s list, but not on the group’s, place it in the Mask Quadrant.
  • When an adjective appears on the group’s list, but not on the individual’s, put it in the Blind Spots quadrant.
  • Any adjective that appeared on neither list can go in the Unconscious Quadrant.

Review & Analysis

Once everyone has finished, allow each participant to review their Johari Window assessment. Encourage them to compare notes between self and team assessment. 

Spend a few minutes discussing the adjectives that appear in the open quadrant.

Ask an individual to disclose by talking about one of the adjectives they selected for themselves, but the group did not.

Have the individual select one of the adjectives the group has identified, but the individual did not. The group now has the opportunity to give some feedback to the individual about this adjective.

Coaching Tips for Facilitating the Johari Window

Use the following questions to promote reflection and learnings:

  • How easy or difficult was it to select the adjectives to describe yourself? Why?
  • How easy or difficult was it to select the adjectives to describe your team members? Why?
  • After comparing feedback, what were you surprised by?
  • What can you do to reduce your Blind Spot and/or Facade, and move those traits into your Arena instead?
  • How can you apply what you learned about you and your teammates to improve collaboration?

Remind the team not to be judgmental. There are no right or wrong answers. The purpose of this exercise is not to provide a score but to help people uncover the areas that are not visible to them.

Additional Reading

How to Conquer Your Blind Spots

The Power of Self-Awareness: How to Build Successful Teams

15 Simple Exercises to Increase Your Self-Awareness

Why Culture Design?

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