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The Importance of Feedback: Johari's Window

6 September 2016

Autumn is usually the time of year for performance appraisals – so whether you are a manager or an employee you will probably be thinking about how you both give, and receive feedback.

Johari’s Window is a great tool to use for this. The idea is that each of the four panes in the window represent an aspect of openness -  with the first being an open area known as the Arena.  This is the part where we share openly with others – creating an open environment which promotes trust. Ideally this pane should be as big as possible, and the best way to do this is to narrow some of the other panes.

One of these panes is known as Blindness – this is what others see, but we don’t know ourselves, for example particular habits or mannerisms. The other is Hidden and this is the information that you know and keep from others around you. While there will always be some things in the hidden pane, as there should be, it is best to make both of these as small as possible. The final pane is what we don’t know about ourselves, and what others don’t know either – things which can be learnt through shared discovery.

 

And the best way to do this? Giving and receiving feedback. The more you give to colleagues, both about yourself and about them, the smaller the Hidden pane will be. Equally, if you actively seek feedback, for example by asking how you are doing, the smaller the Blindness pane becomes.  

While it is great to do this to improve your own Arena, it is also important to remember that giving and receiving feedback can help others to increase their Arena too. Sometimes not all feedback is welcome, however if we try to listen to and consider the feedback we receive from others, this can help us to develop those things we didn’t know about ourselves, and maintain a free and open environment. 

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