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  • Writer's pictureDr. Pamela Davis

Johari's Window - The Trust Model

Updated: Mar 28, 2021


If you have not heard of Johari's Window, lean in closer as I share the power in this model.


Johari's Window is a psychological model created by two psychologists - Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955. This model provides a framework that builds trust through communication. It does this by guiding you through a view of four window panes. In viewing the description of each window pane, the ultimate goal is for you to increase your self-awareness about the way you communicate.


Quite often we go about our routine and we are unconsciously aware of how our response or lack of response impacts the people around us. By examining the four areas of Johari's window, it provides us with deeper insights on how the way we communicate affects those around us. The model is intended for the analysis with the select groups we interact with. The depth of communication and trust will vary from group to group (i.e. workplace, home, friends, community...).


The Four Areas:

Each of the four window panes represent a viewpoint.

The arena - I know, you know.

This window pane represents information about you that is known to you and others. The size of this pane will be contingent on how open and transparent you are in communicating and sharing information about yourself with the select group of people.


The blind spot - I don't know, you know.

The pane representing the blind spot is when the select group of people are aware of behavior(s) that you are unaware of. Ideally, you want to minimize your blind spots so that you are communicating with a keen awareness. While you may not completely eradicate your blind spot, you may be able to self-correct without negatively impacting the people you are communicating with.


The mask - I know, you don't know.

In this pane, there is information you are withholding about yourself. You are aware of it, but it is not shared with others in the select group. This area of the pane represents information such as secrets and feelings that people are not comfortable with sharing. While there is a reluctance to share, withholding information can also impede trust.


The unknown - I don't know, you don't know.

This pane represents the information that no one is aware of. However, we prepare for the unknown so that we can be in a good position to respond to it. The unknown can vary from pleasant events to tragic events. As you become more self-aware, you are able to plan and communicate more effectively to decrease the impact of the unknown.


When I was first introduced to the Johari's Window, I immediately began to consider the size of my window panes in all 4 areas. Admittedly, I am a private person. Because of this, my arena was quite small and my blind spot and mask panes were rather sizeable. In thinking about the various groups I interact with - workplace, home, church, friends, and the community, my window pane varies with each one of those groups. My arena is much larger with my family. I am most comfortable with them and able to be more vulnerable. Even with my friends, there is quite a bit of transparency.


I am more comfortable now than I was prior to understanding Johari's Window about discussing my blind spots. The right conditions need to be in place for this exchange to be productive. This model is about increasing self-awareness, communication, and trust. Asking for feedback about your blind spots is the optimal lead-in. If this is not the case, approaching someone to share feedback with them about their blind spots should be handled delicately.


The mask pane is another fragile topic. It is probably the most challenging pane to share - your feelings, emotions, and experiences. The model suggests increasing your arena (the upper left) is accomplished by receiving feedback about your blind spots (upper right) and sharing feedback about your mask (lower left). The level of trust you share within your select groups will determine how willing you are to disclose information.


This model represents your comfort level of communicating and engaging in mutual trust interactions. Where you fall may change over time as you become more aware of yourself and as you get to know the people that you are interacting with. Increasing the size of your arena, you creates the space for effective communication and interaction.


For more on Johari's Window, tune in here. I will dig deeper into each of the four areas n upcoming posts. You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram: @thepdexperience.


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