The Johari Window: A Strategy for Improving Team Communication

Healthy communication among team members heavily contributes to the culture, organization and performance of the workplace. So, when communication breaks down or becomes uncomfortable among team members, the productivity of everyone in the workplace will likely suffer.

However, this isn't an inevitable outcome that employers and employees alike have to accept. Instead, there are ways to prevent either a lack of communication or the deterioration of it.

In fact, psychologists have dedicated a lot of time to the creation of various communication models over the years. Today, we're taking a close look at the Johari Window. Let's get started.

Background on the Johari Window

In 1955, American psychologists Harry Ingham and Joseph Luft developed the Johari Window. Ever since then, it has been used to improve personal relationships and communication skills among people operating within the same group.

According to, "The idea was derived as the upshot of the group dynamics [at the]… University of California and was later improved by Joseph Luft." In fact, the name of this group communication model, Johari, is a combination of the names Joseph and Harry.

The Johari Window now utilizes a literal window frame that contains four panes. It is designed to allow each group member to get a more well-rounded understanding of themselves as well as one another. Let's take a look at a breakdown of each pane and its role in a Johari Window group communication exercise.

Pane No. 1: Known to you, known to others

This quadrant is open, meaning information you know about yourself and that others also know about you. These qualities can be based on your behaviors in social settings, attitudes in stressful situations, emotions in general, skills in the workplace, perceptions of the world and other traits or general factual information about you.

For instance, if you believe yourself to be a punctual person and your fellow team members also view you that way, then that quality belongs in the open quadrant. When you start the Johari Window communication exercise, the open quadrant is the ideal place to begin the process.

This is because none of the information in this pane should surprise anyone in the group. When you begin with information everyone can relate to and bond over, you'll establish a foundation of familiarity and camaraderie among team members. This makes more difficult communication later on in the exercise a lot easier.

Pane No. 2: Unknown to you, known to others

This area is blind, meaning characteristics others see in you, yet you do not see them in yourself. The second pane is quite literally all about blind spots. They can be positive strengths or negative weaknesses.

For instance, let's say you don't realize that you accidentally interrupt your co-workers when they are speaking. However, other people on your team notice this, so they should bring this insight to your attention during this stage of the exercise.

You can reduce your blind spots by seeking feedback from others and applying objectivity upon receiving the feedback.

Pane No. 3: Known to you, unknown to others

This section is hidden, meaning qualities you embody, yet they go undetected by everyone but you. By addressing your hidden qualities, you can let people get to know you and better understand your motivations.

The hidden area requires you to be more vulnerable as these are often characteristics that you either don't want other people to know about or that you hide for a reason. That said, respecting personal boundaries is crucial here, and refraining from judging people for what they open up about in this part of the exercise is key.

Pane No. 4: Not known to anyone

Last but not least, the fourth quadrant is an unknown area. It contains characteristics you do not recognize in yourself, and the group won't recognize them in you either. To make this area smaller, prioritize self-improvement so that you can reach your potential and let your unrecognized talents emerge for everyone to see.

In summary

All in all, the four panes of the Johari Window can help everyone who's part of the team. Each member can strive to improve their self-awareness while bettering how everyone communicates as a whole by focusing on the open, blind, hidden and unknown panes of the Johari Window.