The New Johari Window #2: Models of Interpersonal Awareness
Opaque Rather Than Blind
I will be using the word “opaque” rather than “blind” to label the second quadrant (Q2). While Joe Luft occasionally used the word “opaque” to describe Quad Two, I would like to use this word instead of the word “blind” in most instances. The Q2 dynamics of opaque knowledge of self is an important theme that appears throughout these essays and is a key concept in the new Johari Window. I suggest that we are usually not “blind” to how other people see us; rather, this knowledge about other people’s perceptions of us is opaque—we can see the faint outline or shadow but not the clear detail. At some level we are very much aware of the potential—if not real—image that other people hold about us. That is why we get “defensive” when we are about to receive feedback. That’s why we brace ourselves. At some level, we believe that other people really do know us and know our secrets, our mistakes and our weaknesses (they also know our strengths, but this is rarely acknowledged). There is an old saying that goes something like this: “Which one of us if told that ‘everything has been revealed; you have been found out’ wouldn’t pack his/her bag and catch the first train out of town!”
At some level, all is known by us. Furthermore, every salient feature about us is repeated again and again in our psyche. There is no way we can hide it, not can we be totally oblivious to the fact that other people see these features in us every day—in our behavior, in our expressed feelings, and in the decisions we make about interpersonal relationships. All of this relates, fundamentally, to a concept offered many years ago by Sigmund Freud—signal anxiety. While this concept was replaced years later by Freud in his own evolving concepts of anxiety, the original notion about signal anxiety remains relevant today—especially as we analyze the dynamics of Q2.