Self-Coaching Module: Blindspots and Feedback – Finding out the Real You

Daily Quote:”Oh, what a great gift we would have if we could only see ourselves as others see us .” – Robert Burns

Psychologists have all sorts of models to explain us to ourselves. One of the more interesting ones is a simple four-pane grid known as the Johari Window (named after two real characters, Joe and Harry). It divides our self-awareness into four parts, based on what is known and unknown about us to other people and what is known and unknown about us to ourselves.

Turns out that Johari Windows were created by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham back in 1955 to help people better understand their interpersonal communication and relationships. The window is divided into four panes — or rooms — as follows: See more at

The Johari Window model is a simple and useful tool for illustrating and improving self-awareness, and mutual understanding between individuals within a group by using feedback and self-disclosure. The Johari Window model can also be used to assess and improve a group’s relationship with other groups. The Johari Window model was devised by American psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955, while researching group dynamics at the University of California Los Angeles. The model was first published in the Proceedings of the Western Training Laboratory in Group Development by UCLA Extension Office in 1955, and was later expanded by Joseph Luft. Today the Johari Window model is especially relevant due to modern emphasis on, and influence of, ‘soft’ skills, team development, empathy, cooperation, and interpersonal development.

Over the years, alternative Johari Window terminology has been developed and adapted by other people – particularly leading to different descriptions of the four regions, hence the use of different terms in this explanation. Don’t let it all confuse you – the Johari Window model is really very straight forward:

johari window four regions

  1. What is known by the person about him/herself and is also known by others, called the – open area and free arena 
  2. What is unknown by the person about him/herself but which others know – blindspot
  3. What the person knows about him/herself that others do not know – hidden area, hidden self, or ‘facade’
  4. what is unknown by the person about him/herself and is also unknown by others – unknown area or unknown self–How would you react in a car accident or a kid-napping 

Johari Window is like a window with four ‘panes’. Here’s how the Johari Window is normally shown, with its four regions.

Johari region 2 the blindspot is what is known about a person by others in the group, but is unknown by the person him/herself. By seeking or soliciting feedback from others, the aim should be to reduce this area and thereby to increase the open area and increase self-awareness.

This blind area is not an effective or productive space for individuals or groups. This blind area could also be referred to as ignorance about oneself, or issues in which one is deluded. A blind area could also include issues that others are deliberately withholding from a person. We all know how difficult it is to work well when kept in the dark. No-one works well when subject to ‘mushroom management’. People who are ‘thick-skinned’ tend to have a large ‘blind area’.

Group members and managers can take some responsibility for helping an individual to reduce their blind area – in turn increasing the open area – by giving sensitive feedback and encouraging disclosure. Managers should promote a climate of non-judgmental feedback, and group response to individual disclosure, which reduces fear and therefore encourages both processes to happen. The extent to which an individual seeks feedback, and the issues on which feedback is sought, must always be at the individual’s own discretion. Some people are more resilient than others – care needs to be taken to avoid causing emotional upset. The process of soliciting serious and deep feedback relates to the process of ‘self-development and growth as a leader.

Sometimes people describe blind spots as perception disconnects – when the people around us don’t perceive our words and behaviors in the way we intended. We might believe that our calm, composed demeanor is a serious advantage in a high-stress workplace. Unfortunately, our co-workers perceive us as robotic and uncaring. Our goal might be to appear decisive and candid, but others actually think we’re abrupt and insensitive. Are we energetic and driven? Or relentless and annoying?  Are we methodical and systematic? Or inflexible and overly cautious? Sometimes there’s a very fine line there. But, at the end of the day, perceptions trump intentions. Despite our goals and the impressions we intend to make, our business success is determined by our reputations and the perceptions of us held by our supervisors and colleagues.

What causes these blind spots? Many times, these inadvertent behaviors stem from the way we are naturally “wired” or from limiting beliefs that we formed during childhood. If I have always been rewarded for my enthusiasm, I might think that adding more is always the secret to success. Like blind spots in the car, we simply don’t have the perspective to see when that once-positive trait morphs into an irritating idiosyncrasy. No wonder we’re confused when a less-qualified co-worker gets tapped for the corner office.

Another thing I have learned about blind spots:  no one is immune.  We all have them. However, highly successful people recognize these blind spots and develop strategies to overcome them. First of all, top leaders work hard to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Through self-awareness, they can strike the right balance of confidence and humility in their professional relationships. Second, they perfect the art of “reputation management” by monitoring the way others see them. They actively seek feedback from the people around them to determine if they are being perceived as they intended. And if they uncover any disconnects, they quickly take action to make behavioral improvements.

For those who feel like their careers are stuck or simply not progressing as quickly as they expected, these strategies can have an enormously positive impact. Are you reaching your full career potential? Take the steps to improve your professional reputation by identifying and correcting the blinds spots that could be undermining your progress. Once you harness the power of knowing and managing your reputation, you’ll have the key to accelerating your career in exciting new ways.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Take time to observe and seek feedback on your blind spots–

Have you ever sought to uncover your blind spots?

How do you react when people try to provide feedback on areas for improvement?

What methods do you use to correct or eliminate these blind spots?



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