The Way We See Ourselves & How Others See Us Are Often Very Different Things

it is a diagram known as the Johari window. There are four boxes. Along the top are the labels "known to self" and "not known to self". Along the left side are the labels "known to others" and "not known to others." The box that is known to self and known to others is labeled "arena." The box that is known to others but not known to self is labeled "blind spot." The box that is not known to others and known to self is "facade." the box that is not known to self and not known to others is labeled "unknown."
Image by Simon Shek / CC 0

How we see ourselves and how others see us are often very different things.

Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingraham created an exercise called the Johari Window (named by combining part of both of their first names, Jo + Harri/Hari) that can help bridge that gap.

In the Johari Window exercise, participants pick words from a list of adjectives that they feel describe their personality. Other folks who know them then get to pick an equal number adjectives from the same list to describe them.

All of these adjectives are plotted into a grid based on whether they were selected by the person to describe themselves, by others to describe them, both, or neither:

it is a diagram known as the Johari window. There are four boxes. Along the top are the labels "known to self" and "not known to self". Along the left side are the labels "known to others" and "not known to others." The box that is known to self and known to others is labeled "arena." The box that is known to others but not known to self is labeled "blind spot." The box that is not known to others and known to self is "facade." the box that is not known to self and not known to others is labeled "unknown."

As you can see by the way the grid is laid out, these qualities are given different names depending on who identified them.

Adjectives that both the participant and others identified go into a quadrant called “arena.”

Ones that the participant chose but that others didn’t is known as either “hidden” or “fa├žade”

A person’s “blind spot” in this exercise is predictably made up of adjectives that others selected but that they did not. Some of the most interesting self-insights can come from this quadrant.

And the final quadrant is called “unknown.” The adjectives that no one selected go here. While it could mean that the person doesn’t possess those qualities, that’s not necessarily the case. It’s also possible that they have those qualities but they’re both hidden to the person and those who know them.

The List of Traits Typically Used

So… adjectives… that’s kind of vague. What exactly are we talking about? Well, here’s the list of adjectives that are typically used in the test (in alphabetical order):

  1. able
  2. accepting
  3. adaptable
  4. bold
  5. brave
  6. calm
  7. caring
  8. cheerful
  9. clever
  10. complex
  11. confident
  12. dependable
  13. dignified
  14. empathetic
  15. energetic
  16. extroverted
  17. friendly
  18. giving
  19. happy
  20. helpful
  21. idealistic
  22. independent
  23. ingenious
  24. intelligent
  25. introverted
  26. kind
  27. knowledgeable
  28. logical
  29. loving
  30. mature
  31. modest
  32. nervous
  33. observant
  34. organized
  35. patient
  36. powerful
  37. proud
  38. quiet
  39. reflective
  40. relaxed
  41. religious
  42. responsive
  43. searching
  44. self-assertive
  45. self-conscious
  46. sensible
  47. sentimental
  48. shy
  49. silly
  50. spontaneous
  51. sympathetic
  52. tense
  53. trustworthy
  54. warm
  55. wise
  56. witty

Whew, that’s a lot. But then again, it’s helpful to have some breadth in order to really dig into people’s personalities.

Where You Can Do the Johari Window Exercise Online

If you’re interested in making your own Johari Window, thankfully it’s pretty easy. There’s even a convenient way to do it online (here, click this link). You can select your qualities under a name of your choosing, and then you can send it to your friends and/or partners with your own unique link by posting it on social media or directly (texting, emailing, etc.), and they can select qualities for you — and set up one of their own (that you can also complete).

My friends group did this a while back, and it was a lot of fun… and yielded a lot of interesting information.

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This post is part of an ongoing Poly Land feature called Psyched for the Weekend, in which I geek out with brief takes about some of my favorite psychological studies and concepts. For the entire series, please see this link.

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