The holidays are so close we can smell them! The turkey, parsnips, string bean casserole and pumpkin pie, pernil, arroz con gandules, pasteles and my mother's caramel cheesecake-flan all wafting in the air from Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve.
It's such a fun time gathering with family and friends and enjoying each other in conversation that we may lose sight that it can also turn stressful quickly if we don't create the heart and headspace beforehand to breathe our way through it.
When was the last time you checked your holiday toolkit, and if your Johari Window is open? More on Johari in a bit.
If things heat up in the kitchen, do you have what it takes to mind your peas and carrots and pass the potatoes?
Do you scowl even when you smile? Frown when your happy, laugh when you're sad, or say there is nothing wrong when that's clearly not the case?
Ever wonder why, when you're speaking with someone in person, their expression suddenly changes or remains fixed no matter the ebb and flow of your conversation?
Or their tone of voice suddenly changes and what you're saying doesn't seem to match their intonation?
Or it's a one-sided conversation that starts, continues and ends without ever asking how you're doing?
Or does the person lead you down a rabbit hole of self-interest, without any regard for the energy they may be sucking out of you in the interaction or listening to anything you're saying?
These are all blind spots we may have and don't necessarily notice, but others do, and our blind spots may be a trigger for them.
Just the other day, I was interacting with someone who had a permanent scowl on their face even when they smiled. Their mouth was saying one thing and the scrunch between their eyes another. Our conversation was light and superficial, nothing in-depth, but their disposition remained the same throughout its entirety.
It was baffling to me, to say the least. So it made me think of the Johari Window and if mine was open or closed at that moment.
The Johari Window is a model, a discovery tool of self-awareness developed in 1955 by psychologists Joesph Luft and Harry Ingram. An amalgamation of both their first names. An oldie-but-goodie. Different iterations can be found all around the Web, so I'll give you the cliffs notes here.
Understanding how we show up in the world and how we are perceived is important in building and maintaining better, deeper relationships with ourselves and others.
Now that the holidays are near and we will be interacting with others much more than in the past—some for the first time since the craziness began—it's wise to reevaluate our blindspots using this simple yet powerful tool that can help us understand how we continue showing up in the world and are perceived by others.
I came across this model during my graduate studies in organizational change management. This model is a tool to increase trust between individuals or within groups by expanding our self-awareness. It can help us begin by being open to disclosing more about ourselves—as much as we feel comfortable—in an effort to engage and create deeper human connections.
Trust is the link that binds us together. Trust turns superficial chatter into rich and full conversations with depth and substance, and existing relationships into more meaningful and everlasting experiences.
Ultimately it's in the mindfulness of our emotional relationship with ourselves and in enhancing our self-awareness and understanding—of how we are perceived by others—that we can improve individual, group and team interactions.
The model is a self-awareness feedback/disclosure tool designed in a quadrant window pane:
Each pane is described as:
Open area (Known to self and to others) e.g. Good communicator.
Blind area (Not known to self but known to others) greatest opportunity for growth e.g. Poor listener.
Hidden area (Known to self and not known to others) e.g. Fear of public speaking.
Unknown (Not known to self and to others) e.g. Discovering that taking micro-steps and speaking with 2 people at a time can begin diminishing this over time.
According to this model we all have open, hidden, blind and unknown areas in relation to self and our relationships with others. The key is for us to understand what our blind spots and hidden unknown areas are, so that we can move them closer into the open area (the arena) where we all can see, hear, acknowledge, and help one another thrive.
Here's a fun, quick and easy exercise to assess how you see yourself and engage with 5-6 people asking their feedback on how they see you. Using this list of 55 adjectives, here's how the exercise works:
Choose 5-6 people that you believe are impartial and honest in their opinions for this exercise.
Make enough copies of the above 55 list of adjectives for you and the people you're engaging with.
From the list of adjectives, you choose 5 words from the list that best describes you as you see yourself.
Have the other 5-6 people choose 5 words each that best describe you as they see you.
Combine both yours and their answers and place them in windowpane #1 above, labeled Open Area.
Place only their answers in windowpane #2 above, labeled Blind Area.
Place only your own answers in windowpane #3 above, labeled Hidden Area.
Place all other adjectives not selected by either you or them in pane #4 labeled Unknown.
You can now begin seeing what your Open, Blind, Hidden, and Unknown areas are and can begin making strides to moving more of your blind, hidden and unknown areas into the Open Arena where we can all see.
This map illustrates 4 self-awareness archetypes within each window pane from the point of view of how you see yourself vs. how others see you.
Do you see yourself reflected in any?
The intention of this model is to provide an understanding of how self-aware we are and begin expanding the size of our open area through increasing our self-awareness and shared discovery, without disclosing too much of ourselves contracting the size of the blind spots and being open to exploring what is not yet known.
Are you aware of your blindspots? We all have them, some larger or smaller than others but the good news is that we can close the gap if we choose to become more open.
Candid and constructive criticism is the key to how well this feedback is accepted.
Although I've been through this model several times. I find it helpful to revisit it when new people come into my life, and/or when I'll be interacting in groups like over this holiday season.
So while you're getting ready to mind your peas and carrots in the open arena this Holiday Season, check your Johari window.
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