Building feedback with the Johari window

All about this powerful management tool.

The Johari Window: an example of the Johari Window, which basically consists of 4 separate squares to collect feedback.

Communication and the exchange of information are key for any team to function. Part of this dynamic is the understanding of how interpersonal relationships help in this context, as well as in the acceptance of feedback, which is so important for one’s personal and professional growth.

Accepting feedback and evolving from it is essential if you want to achieve success. And in order for this to happen as best as possible, it’s a good idea to be able to rely on tools that assist in this process, such as the Johari window.

Have you heard of this concept? In this post, we explain what the Johari window is and how it can help you with feedback. Keep reading!

What is the Johari window?

Created in 1955 by American psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham, the Johari window is a self-awareness model that aims to demonstrate, in charts, the interaction between the perceptions we have of ourselves and how others see us.

This conceptual tool facilitates the understanding of interpersonal aspects and relationships among a group’s participants. 

Applicable in various situations, its name derives from the combination of its creators’ names: Jo(seph) + Hari(ngton).

The Johari window quadrants

The representation of the Johari window is based on the construction of two axes. 

Generally, the horizontal axis represents our self-awareness, being divided into two quadrants: what is known to the individual and what is unknown to the individual.

The vertical axis represents the knowledge others have about the individual. It is also divided into two quadrants, with one being what the group knows about the individual and what is unknown to the group.

The intersection of these concepts involve four different possibilities, which are:

  1. Open self: known by all, both by the group as well as by the person itself;
  2. Blind self: known by the group, but unknown by the person itself;
  3. Hidden self: known by the person itself, but unknown by the group;
  4. Known self: known by all, both the group and the individual.


Applying the Johari window

The application of the Johari window is based on an assumption of honesty. In other words, it’s essential that you be devoid of any form of judgment or subjective interpretation, in addition to avoiding being upset by the responses obtained through the group’s perception.

Self-awareness is also based on the acceptance of the perception others have about you. Therefore, filling out the Johari window is a great way to evaluate the image we project to others.

A good way of filling out the Window is by using a list of attributes. These attributes can be divided into those that are positive, considered as virtues, and those that are negative, considered as defects — or euphemistically speaking, points of improvement.

Your self-image

The first step is finding out what image you have of yourself. To do so, list the characteristics you know you have (or think you have). 

Devoid of prejudgments, observe the qualities and flaws that best define your personality.

To facilitate the analysis procedure, limit your choices to 10 virtues and 10 flaws, trying to pick those that best represent your personality.

Your image to others

After your self-analysis, it’s time for the most delicate step. 

Within your social group (personal or professional, depending on the objective of applying the tool), select about 5 people who are closer to you. It’s important that you trust these individuals and that they know you well.

Next, if you’re using the list of virtues and flaws, hand a copy to each of them and ask them to perform the same procedure you did in the first step, marking the characteristics that best represent your personality.

Remember to tell them that the answers are anonymous and must be limited to 10 positive and 10 negative points. 

If applicable, seal the answers in an envelope so that people feel more at ease about answering as honestly as possible.

Comparing answers

After collecting the impressions of those close to you, it’s time to compare each answer with your own. 

If you want to, insert the characteristics in a table to facilitate the tally.

The points in common between your answers and the answers of others will be part of the “open self”. 

What others have pointed out and you haven’t, will be part of your “blind self”. 

The characteristics that you have marked and that no one else marked are part of your “hidden self”. 

Your “unknown self” as you must have imagined, is not known, and can be analyzed by other tools.

How the Johari window helps you in the self-awareness process

After building your Johari window, it’s time to analyze the chart. 

The “open self” area is everything that is public about your personality. It consists of the characteristics that are known to you and to others.

The “blind self” represents the characteristics that are unknown to you but are known by others, albeit unintentionally revealed by you. It corresponds to what you do unknowingly or unconsciously. 

This is perhaps, one of the main points to be analyzed as feedback based on the Johari window, because the “blind self” is perceived by how you speak, how you express yourself verbally and non-verbally, how you communicate and react in different situations.

On the other hand, the “hidden self” corresponds to characteristics that you don’t want others to know, and in fact, remain secret. It can remain secret for fear of judgment and negative reactions, or simply because we cannot reveal such characteristics in a clear and objective manner.

It may also represent an incongruity of perceptions, as in people who view themselves as liberal but actually have conservative and stable attitudes.

Finally, the “unknown self” corresponds to the areas that still haven’t been explored. 

Although the Johari window isn’t exactly the best tool to analyze this area, you can search among the characteristics that were pointed out neither by you nor by the others, and try to find which abilities you can improve.

Ideally, you should seek specialized supervision to get in touch with your “unknown self”.

The Johari window and feedback

The application of the Johari window is, by itself, a great way of analyzing feedback. However, you can also ask several questions with the tool, such as:

  • What are the characteristics of each “self” in your window?
  • What image do you project that you’d like to change?
  • What would you like to project to others and isn’t being perceived?
  • How can you change the image others have of you?

The Johari window is a great tool to analyze how you perceive yourself and what image that people in your social or professional circle have of you. With it, we can motivate ourselves to pursue changes, always seeking continuous improvement.