Interpersonal Communication Handout The Johari Window One model of interpersonal communication attempts to describe and explain dialogue

in terms of who knows what in relationships. Although this model typically is displayed focusing on two-person relationships, the ideas here can, with a little creativity, be applied to groups or organizations as well. As we all know and have experienced, not everyone in relationships know the same about themselves, about others, or about the relationship itself. This imbalance of awareness can and often does stimulate discomfort and awkwardness. The Johari Window model focuses on what we are unaware of [users need to remain aware of the implicit background focus on what is known]. The adage of “knowledge is power” applies here. The underlying value priciple in this model is the increasing awareness by relationship partners of that which is known to each other and to have geater sharing among relational participants. The model is composed of four panes labeled: open pane, blind pane, hidden pane, and unknown pane. It is the relative dimensions of these panes – the hopeful decreasing of the secret, hidden, and unknown panes and the increasing of the open pane – that is the focus of the model. The open pane represents those facts, observations, experiences, states, conditions, emotions, advantages, limitations, and barriers that are present or sought after that both parties in relationships are aware of. When all parties to relationships are equally aware of matters, they are less likely to assume imbalanced power positions; are less likely to become dependent; are better able to contribute to the nourishment of the relationship; are more capable of relational repair when called for; and are less likely to be resentful, suspicious, confused, or overwhelmed by the partner’s actions, requests, or demands. To increase the open pane, one must be open to greater and new experiences, be receptive to honest feedback, and be amenable to offering feedback to the partner. The secret pane refers to those matters in which on partner is privy to but who refuses or is unable to share openly with others. Secrecy may be stimulated/caused by many factors including: desire for privacy, embarrassment, fear of exposure, ridicule, punishment, or isolation. Secrecy can be problematic in close/intimate relationships as one major underpinning of such relationships is openness. Secrecy can be often interpreted as distrust of the other. Relationships without trust is endangered. New or maturing relationships inherently are somewhat distrustful since trust is defined as “the taking of risks in which some or all of the outcome of such risks are in the control of the other. Until the other is well known and trusted, high level sharing is tentative. When one shrinks one’s own secret pane, the partner’s open pane is thus increased. The hidden pane involves those matters that the other person is aware of but which you are not. Examples of this include various verbal and non-verbal mannerisms, a number of personality factors such as: punctuality, friendliness, honesty, introversion, humor, etc. The hidden pane, like the secret pane, involves openness through disclosure. The hidden pane and the secret pane can, on occasion, be used manipulatively and thus be a destructive relationship strategy. When one shrinks one’s own hidden pane by sharing with the partner what we know, the partner’s open pane is expanded.

The unknown pane consists of those matters unknown – or unknowable – by both partners in a relationship. How we or others will react to surprise or emergency; what the future holds; what successes or failures await us; etc. are examples of this pane. We can make attempts to shrink the unknown pane by allowing ourselves to be exposed to new experiences – called increased selective exposure – and to think ahead about potential reactions to new phenomena. Imagined interactions also allow the unknown pane to decrease. Self reflection also stimulates greater self awareness which decreases the unknown pane. While decreasing the secret pane, the hidden pane, and the unknown pane is expressed as the ideal, careless, reckless, or unthought-of sharing can be dangerous and unproductive. No one is nor should strive to be a completely “open book.” Discretion, prudence, taste, and self protection dictate that some matters not be openly shared in total.