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The New Johari Window #21: Quadrant Two: Original and New Johari Window

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As the Continental School and other postmodern schools so often note, we actively construct our realities. We don’t just passively receive this reality. This is particularly the case with regard to interpersonal relationships: “We tend to pigeonhole each other very quickly and then to search for confirmation of our own stereotyping. Part of the delight in small group exploration is the way we come to modify our impressions of each other. Rarely do we know what moves another to change his impression of us.”

This is a critical point. Given that interpersonal relationships are dynamic and always changing, it is particularly challenging to track changes in the way other people perceive use, for these changes are frequent and often unpredictable (especially early in a relationship). Even when we get a solid purchase regarding another person’s “character” or “personality,” [attribution theory] this perception will shift. That is why our sense of another person’s perception of us is often opaque—not wholly blind. We may have a fairly clear and accurate sense of their perception of us at an early stage in our relationship; however, this “old” perception is now outdated and tends to remain present (though opaque) and to distract us from more recent data.

Interacting Alone

Luft notes that “we carry each other around in our heads and continue interaction even after the other person is not present. An important aspect of human interaction is this interaction before or after being in the physical presence of the other. Anticipatory interaction with the other in our minds serves to prepare us for the exchange, and in certain important occasions may be crucial.”

For instance, Joseph—the man I coached—was preparing for co-workers who saw him as tough and ruthlessly oriented toward the interests of the company. Up to a point, this preparatory work is valuable. It keeps Joseph from feeling hurt when someone gets upset with his resounding “no.” Yet, these preconceptions can also serve as barriers to effective human interaction. They can be self-fulfilling. Joseph assumes that other people with whom he works will see him as tough, so he protects himself and withdraws from an authentic relationship. As a result, co-workers do see him as uncaring and the preconceptions of both parties to the interaction are confirmed.

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