The Johari Window

Some recent work and the page on Does this make sense, reminded me of many visuals that can help therapy along.

One of them is the Johari Window – around since the 1950’s – and developed and adapted by others over the years. It is helpful because it can offer insight into how individuals, relationships and organisations might change.

It was created by two psychologists, Joseph Luft (1916–2014) and Harrington Ingham (1916–1995). Luft and Ingham named their model “Johari” using a combination of their first names.

How might it help?


What the visual makes explicit is that I do not know all there is to know about me; you do not know all there is to know about me and both of us are in the dark about some aspects of me and you!

The journey to better understanding is not a straight line although it will require, roughly speaking, a move from top left to bottom right. The ‘safe experiment’ guidance advises that the journey is best taken in small ‘bites’.

The ‘feedback’ referred to relates to the results you obtain from safe experiments and from those around you. This information may help you push out the boundaries of our self-awareness.

This illustration fits well with the Window of Tolerance (WOT), in my view. The WoT emphasises personal growth by encouraging us to expand our ‘window’. The Johari Window encourages us to achieve this by moving from top left to bottom right; to become aware of the unknowns – things we do not grasp about ourselves and others as we mix with people in our lives.

The diagram offers one of a number of specific ways to do this – by asking others for information and by disclosing things, bit-by-bit, in a safe manner.

Can you do that? If so, then you’ve designed a small safe experiment, as long as you know what results were obtained (best done in writing unless your memory is better than mine!). 

The tricky thing is to ask for just enough; other people may wonder what you are getting at; they may see it as unusual for you and that might be unsettling. That’s another reason for keeping the safe experiment ‘small’ – it might just slide by and still be useful!

Be prepared for a quizzical look, all the same; maybe, just explain.

If it helps, there is another rather exotic view of this trip from the known – into the unknown, even if it sounds like The Pilgrim’s Progress or  Lord of the Rings:


See the source image


It’s possible to look beyond the fantasy elements in the drawing if I  include the more sober view of Thomas Kuhn, an American philosopher of science. He wrote an influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1962. It is possible to translate Kuhn’s ideas on Scientific changes into the everyday experience of moving from Today’s Normal, toward the New Normal. 


See the source image

Think of 1. Normal Science as Today’s Normal and 2. Model Drift as the everyday experiences I do not always notice until there is a crisis in my life. At that point, I arrive at: 3. The Model Crisis or a crisis in Today’s Normal.

At that point my idea of current reality is threatened, even to breaking point. Events are likely to impose some change on me, unless I have the grace to meet the pressures in a different way, Either way, I enter a ‘revolution’ in my thinking and actions. That revolution motivates me to initiate change. 

Many of the presentations of change contain similarities:  most refer to a struggle, or an abyss’, into which we will fall as we adapt, get scared yet soldier on!!

Use a safe experiment to identify where you are – today – in these different cycles of change. If you are content with your location, then that’s all there is to say about it. If you are not so sure, then note some of the pressures you are under – and your current responses to those pressures. Are there are other ways ro react? Are there people you need to talk to or other people to engage to help the picture become clearer. 

What something can you imagine to make change in your life, now.? Can you take a next step from  ‘imagining’ to small action?

Can you design an experience that is just that little bit different?


Return to:

what is a nudge

 the welcome page.

does this make sense?

the scenic route to change