Equipped with both self-awareness and awareness of others emotionally intelligent leaders will take steps to develop their relationship with the people they lead. They will recognize them as individuals and seek to relate to each person on that basis. “One size fits all” is not a concept that fits with Emotional Intelligence.

Empathy and Relationship

As leaders we are inherently involved in relationships with other people including those we are charged with leading, our peers and fellow team members.  As we have seen, Emotional Intelligence includes developing really good relationships so that we don’t simply get on better, but both we and those we lead are able to achieve our full potential. This is a primary goal of servant leadership. Both self-awareness and empathy are crucial to this end.

Empathy can only exist in the context of a relationship and, because it is based on the sharing of information, it requires that we engage in effective communications with the other person.

Whilst we have been considering empathy from one perspective, ours, in a collaborative environment built on the principles of Christ-centred servant leadership, empathy is a two-way thing.  It is of mutual advantage that both parties in a relationship have empathy with each other.

When we get to look at team relationships later in the course, we will see that “solid relationships” are so important. In this case developing empathy is not a spectator sport but a multi-lateral pursuit as each team member seeks to understand all of his colleagues.  This pursuit will include both self-disclosure, as we help others get to know us, and feedback, as we help others get to know themselves.

Developing Effective Relationships – The JoHari Window Model

Now, imagine a window allowing you to see absolutely everything there is to know about you. Plainly, only God has that view.

From your own perspective this separates into all those things that you know about yourself and all those things about yourself which remain unknown to you. In Psalm 19, David wrote about hidden faults but the list of things we don’t know about ourselves is not simply a negative thing.

From the perspective of another person, those with whom we have some kind of relationship, everything there is to know about you splits into all that they know about you and all that they don’t know about you.

Overlaying these two perspectives forms quadrants or panes which describe four types of knowledge about you.

This is the JoHari (pronounced Joe-Harry) Window Model. The clue is in the pronunciation: It’s named after two people Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham. It is a simple model that helps us visualise our relationship with one other person at a time.  Once we can visualise our JoHari Window we can take steps to develop the relationship and gain the other’s assistance in improving our self-awareness and awareness of them. It helps us model our level of self-disclosure and receptivity to feedback from that one other person in that relationship.

Both people in a relationship have their own JoHari Window. A separate JoHari window would model my relationship with each member of my team or each of my friends and so on. The shape of the window can be different for each person and can change over time, representing the development of the relationship it describes.

The four quadrants are:

  • The Open Pane

Things about you known to both you and to the other person

Consider the relationship with a family member, say your spouse. They will know a lot about you: simple facts such as height and weight but also likes and dislikes, political views and so on. This pane will be large. They know a lot about you because they have observed you and also because you have told them – self-disclosure.

  • Hidden Pane

Things about you known to you and NOT to the other person.

What might be here?  Well, you may have a “skeleton in the closet”, something embarrassing, or even criminal, that you don’t want anyone to know.  It may be you are simply shy and don’t talk much about yourself. Either way you know it and the other person doesn’t.

  • The Blind Spot

Things about you known by the other person and NOT by you.

You might find it hard to identify things that you don’t know about yourself because if you could do that  you would know them. So just think about another person for a moment. You will likely be able to identify some things that you know about them that they probably don’t know about themselves.

Whilst you might know lots about yourself, this model is situational. In other words as you move from one situation to another, as you meet new people,  you will find yourself in new situations and relationships and so there will be new things that you don’t know about yourself, in that situation, and lots that they don’t know about you.

  • The Unknown Pane

Things about you NOT known by either you or the other person

This is even harder to imagine because by definition only God knows it. It could be your tolerance to high stress or how you cope with sudden wealth, redundancy, or family bereavement; simply because none of those things have happened to you yet.

There are also  three processes at work in the JoHari Window model:

  • Self-Disclosure

This is the process of you disclosing information about you to the other person. You help them get to know you – you may tell them or allow them to observe you. This will reduce the size of the panes that represent the things the other person doesn’t know about you. Plainly, in most relationships time is also a factor here. Usually, the longer that you know someone the more you know about them.

  • Feedback

This is the process whereby the other person tells you things about yourself that you didn’t know. This can obviously be a sensitive but necessary process to negotiate. This occurs when you ask for feedback or listen to what others have to share.

  • Self-Discovery

Self-discovery is the means by which you can reduce the size of the Unknown pane. Because it’s unknown neither self-disclosure nor feedback can illuminate it, although feedback may trigger a process of self-discovery. Self-discovery is about broadening your experience; about trying new things, going to new places, meeting new people and so forth.

 The purpose of this simple model is to assist us to gain an understanding for and appreciation of how effective feedback and self-disclosure can improve communication skills. It supports the development of both self-awareness and empathy.

Because of the place that feedback and self-disclosure has in the model it is helpful in understanding and developing our inter and  intra -personal intelligence. You will recall that is was an element we discussed earlier when considering Goleman’s model of Emotional Intelligence.

Relationship development as seen through the JoHari Window

The shape of the four panes in the JoHari window varies dependent upon how much you know about yourself and how much the other person knows. So:

  • Imagine you have just met someone on a team that you have just joined, then your JoHari window would look like the New Team Member.

    The Open Pane is small because the person knows very little about you.  They will have had no opportunity to give you any feedback about yourself (the things they know that you don’t) so the Blind Spot will be quite wide. Similarly you have had no opportunity to disclose things about yourself so the Hidden pane (that which you know about yourself and they don’t) will be tall and thin.

  • As you have the opportunity to get to know this person you will tell them things (self-disclosure) and you will expand the Open pane as they get to know more about you.

  • As they get to know you they have opportunity to provide feedback to you, so increasing the area that you know about yourself.

  • When you become an established team member the Open Pane will be large because both you and the other person will know a good deal about you.

There are some classic/extreme JoHari Window profiles, which will help you to be able to analyse what is going on. These represent extreme behaviours.

  • The Turtle
    This is an extreme form of the New Team Member. It means that you and the other person don’t know each other well. That is OK if you’ve just met but if you’ve known each other for a long time it may not be so good.

  • The Interviewer
    This is a relationship where lots of feedback is provided but there is little self-disclosure. The interviewer is always seeking information and feedback but shares nothing of themselves. Thus the Blind Spot is small but the hidden area is very large.

  • The Bull-in-the-China-Shop
    The classic image is of the bull rampaging through the shop knocking shelves over and smashing the expensive china.What has happened is that the “Bull” has disclosed lots about themselves and solicited no feedback or has ignored whatever feedback might have been given. The result is this huge blind spot that causes them to ignore correction and guidance and continue to behave in a way that is insensitive to others.

  • The Ideal
    Here the Open Pane is as large as possible because much has been disclosed about self and lots of feedback has been obtained. Consequently there is little that is hidden from either person and the unknown area is very small. Recalling the nursery story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Goldilocks was happy when she found the chair, the bed and the porridge that was “just right”. The Ideal model is “just right”.

Monitoring and Managing Yourself and Your Relationships

By considering what your JoHari Window looks like in your relationship with someone, and comparing it to their JoHari Window from your perspective, you can assess the state of the relationship. You can then decide what strategies to take to develop the relationship.  The goal is to close in on the Ideal model which represents a healthy bi-directional relationship.

The JoHari Window will enable you to manage yourself in the relationship in focus, as well as identify how to encourage the other person to grow the relationship from their side.  The following strategies can help you change the various panes in your window:

  • Increasing the size of the OPEN pane
    You can do this by giving and soliciting feedback and by self-disclosure. The giving of feedback can be seen as a form of self-disclosure as it gives insight into how you think, what is important to you, your manner and so forth.

  • Reducing the size of the BLIND SPOT
    Soliciting and being receptive to feedback will reduce the size of this pane. When feedback comes you have to take notice, it’s not enough just to allow people to share things; feedback must have an impact. The weight you give to the feedback will depend upon the credibility of the person giving it and how many people give the same feedback.

  • Reducing the size of the HIDDEN Pane
    Giving feedback and self-disclosure reduces the size of the Hidden pane but self-disclosure is the main mechanism.

  • Reducing the size of the UNKNOWN pane
    Reducing the size of the Unknown pane is by definition difficult. However there are some general strategies you can employ so: Avail yourself of and be receptive to sharing the experiences of others; learning vicariously, i.e. from others as they grow; explore new things and opportunities. Deliberately explore new activities, places and interests.

Later in the course, when we look at team development and leadership practices, we will see how vital effective communications are in building the trust, collaboration and solid relationships that are essential to individuals achieving their full potential. The JoHari Window model will be an important tool.

  • Take a Moment: For the same relationships that you identified in the earlier“Take a Moment” exercise:
    • Sketch out what you think the JoHari Window looks like for each.
      • From your perspective
      • From their perspective
    •  Why do you think they are similar or different in each relationship?
      • Are they what you expected or not, why?
    • What specific things could you do to move each relationship towards the ideal?

  • Take a Moment:  What personal development strategies could you use to reduce the size of the Unknown area in your JoHari Window?
    • What subject areas would you like to explore?
    • How might you go about that?
    • Make a plan…..