Johari Window Coaching

Using the Johari Window as a Coaching Tool

If you turn around and look through the window, you’ll undoubtedly see the world. Windows are an essential part of any building with their double function of letting light inside while allowing us to observe outside. Did you know you can use a window as a coaching tool? Before you say “What?” - this is not an ordinary window. This coaching window is transparent and open, opaque, or closed at your choice of time and location. It can be reflective, or a two-way mirror with two-way insight, or it can be one-way only, blocking visibility from one side. Oh, and another thing about this window, while it may not be customary to name windows in the modern world, this one has a name. It is formally referred to as “The Johari Window,” or just “Johari” for short. Now, I hear you thinking, “Wait, does this have anything to do with the awareness tool developed in the 1950s by American psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham?” Yes, well done! Those who may not have picked up on it combined their first names resulting in “Johari,” thus identifying where the name originated.

Okay, now that we know more about this window, let’s look at how we will incorporate it into increasing awareness and developing effective communication skills in conjunction with DISC Profiling. Ultimately, plotting each personality style on this window is a visual depiction of our awareness levels and trust as they pertain to relationships.

The Johari Window is also called “The Trust Model.” When used in a group, it facilitates communication and the result is improved awareness of each other. The Trust Model is based on two premises:

(1) trust can be strengthened by disclosing hidden information about yourself to others, and

(2) learning about yourself from the feedback of others.

Johari WindowTo help those who prefer a visual reference, check out the graphic. The Trust Model is based on a grid with four panes (like a window) consisting of the Arena, Blind Spots, the Mask and the Potential. When a single person looks into the window, they see the Arena and the Mask, but they can't see their Blind Spots or the Potential. When others are looking into the window of that person, they see the Arena and the Blind Spots of the other person. The coaching goal is to open this window so every team member will be able to look through all four of the window panes. The more window panes you can see through with a person or a team, the greater the trust, love, and relationship. The person, or team and its members, can better prepare for things that could go wrong and handle success.

The Arena (Trust and Awareness Exists)

Do you know that feeling you get when you are having a two-way conversation with enough space to discuss differences, similarities, and thoughts while feeling both heard and understood? That feeling is a good indicator you are operating in the Arena. This level can be challenging to reach, but offers much growth and opportunity. The arena provides space for those feeling stuck in the other three quadrants to learn and grow by openly communicating to build trust and awareness.

The Blind Spots (Lack of Awareness)

Have you ever been in the middle of a discussion and attempted to offer some feedback or insight into observable behaviors, only for your observations to be met with confusion or denial? This is an indicator of an unknown Blind Spot, where the other person may lack self-awareness in that area. The Blind Spot is an opportunity for the individual to gain critical insight into behaviors that may help or hinder their ability to establish trust and effectively communicate with others. Some typical blind spots from the DISC styles are:

- “D” style: Dominant personalities can be perceived as lacking listening skills, argumentative, demanding, and abrupt.

- “I” style: Influential personalities are famous for their lack of attention to detail and being overly impulsive without following up.

- “S” style: Steady personalities are terrified of change and can be really stubborn and passive-aggressive if they feel things are happening too quickly.

- “C” style: Compliant personalities can be sarcastic and overly critical of others, and find it difficult to delegate tasks.

The Mask (Lack of Trust)

Perhaps you’ve experienced a moment during a conversation where you were asked why you responded poorly to a particular comment, and you avoided responding because you didn’t feel safe enough to share your thoughts. That would be known as the Mask, indicating you may be fearful of sharing information that may otherwise help others gain a better understanding. Much like Blind Spots, the Mask can be a barrier to establishing trust, building relationships, and entering the effective communication Arena. DISC styles normally hide their dominant fears behind the Mask:

- “D” personalities fear being taken advantage of and loss of control;

- “I” personalities fear social or peer rejection;

- “S” personalities are afraid of sudden changes or loss of security;

- “C” personalities fear criticism or correction by others.

The Potential (No Trust, No Awareness)

Consider this as the “clean slate” moment when you meet someone new, shake hands, sit down, and begin a conversation. This is the first opportunity you have to establish trust, openly share ideas and feedback, and work your way through any Masks or Blind Spots to get to the optimal communication Arena. Things that exist will remain unknown and unseen until both parties intentionally bring it into the other person’s awareness. Some may fear the Arena and struggle to move beyond the Potential state; this is where good leadership and relationship building is paramount.

Any DISC style can find themselves operating within any of the Trust Model quadrants as they transition through life; learning and understanding others’ behavioral styles can help master the “window” and open doors for greater opportunities and experiences. Are you ready to learn more about using DISC and the Trust Model in your business? 

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Written by: Lindy Lamielle

Lindy is a Certified Behavioral Life Coach and DISC Consultant who enjoys speaking and writing about personal growth and professional development. She has a MA in Executive Leadership from Liberty University, and 20 years of experience in areas of leadership, management, and communication as a United States Air Force veteran. Personality Style: S/I

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