Shine A Light On Blind Spots

We all have blind spots, things we don’t know about ourselves. As this topic popped into my head, I was reminded of the JoHari Window.

The JoHari Window is a communication model identified in 1955 by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingram. The model, a 4 Quadrants Illustration, suggests that we all have four windows into our awareness.

The Open Area represents things we and others know about us. The larger the Open Area becomes  the stronger the communication and relationships. Think of a friend you are close too. The Open Area is likely large and you are willing and able to enjoy deep conversations. You might even know what the other person is going to say before they say it.

The Hidden/Facade Area illustrated in the lower left quadrant, represents things we know about ourselves but do not share with others. Each of us has things that we want to keep private, but the more hidden we are, it is safe to say, the less connected our relationships will be. Can you think of a person you spend time with but with whom you are unwilling or guarded in sharing about yourself? How would you describe this relationship?

The third quadrant, bottom right, is the Unknown Area. This represents all that exists about you that you and others are not aware of.  You haven’t yet discovered these aspects of yourself. There is likely some interesting things to uncover and learn about yourself.

The quadrant that is the most influenceable is the Blind Area. Blind spots are things about us that others know or see but we are unaware of. We all have them. For a leader, their blind spots may impact their effectiveness to lead others and be successful at their job. Can you think of a time when a leader coached or counseled you to behave in a way that directly contradicted the way they behave and you knew they were unaware of their own behavior? How did you feel about that leader? I would assert that their message lacked congruence and that they likely lost credibility with you.

Feedback and coaching are antidotes to blind spots. Coaching is also a powerful way to uncover the unknown.

Feedback enables the sharing of observations and information. Through receiving feedback a person is able to learn about their blind spots and make a conscious choice whether to change their behavior.

Coaches help clients open up to their blind spots and uncover aspects of themselves they didn’t know.  This is done through asking powerful questions, deep listening, witnessing, sharing what they hear. The coach also acts as a catalyst for action learning.  The client is able to reflect and consider their actions, uncover assumptions, beliefs and behaviors that are not serving them.  Once we gain our “sight”, the Open area expands, resulting in the potential for improvement in communications, relationships, leadership and other areas within our work and personal life.

Make a commitment today to seek to uncover blind spots and shrink the unknown. Create an environment where you can learn about yourself through the eyes and experiences of others. This choice models for others openness and the gift of feedback. If you uncover areas for growth and concentrated development, seek out a coach who can help you identify steps to take to modify behavior, expand perspective, improve relationships and increase communication effectiveness.

What might you learn if you expose some of your blind spots?