The New Johari Window #22: Quadrant Two: The Locus of Control

The New Johari Window #22: Quadrant Two: The Locus of Control

It makes a big difference with regard to feedback when a person has power over me or when they represent, in some manner, the formal authority in an organization of which I am a member. “Neutral” feedback provides information about me that I can either accept or reject. “Power-based” feedback provides command as well as information. “Neutral” feedback might contain a hidden agenda. I can usually either seek out this hidden agenda or ignore it. “Power-based” feedback inevitably contains a hidden agenda.

As the potential recipient of this feedback, I had better seek out this hidden agenda for my own welfare. If nothing else, I had better gain an appreciation of the biases, assumptions, perspectives of the feedback-giver, if this person is in a position of power over me. No wonder I don’t want to receive “power-based” feedback: it requires careful listening, interpretation, analysis and “mind-reading.”

There are two other important differences between “neutral” and “power-based” feedback. First, my own reactions to these two forms of feedback are likely to be quite different. If the feedback comes from a “neutral” source, then my affective reactions are more likely to be “neutral” or at least moderate in magnitude. I might not like to receive negative feedback from a neutral source; however, if I have requested the feedback or trust the intentions of the feedback-giver (see fifth factor), then I am likely to be able to listen to the feedback (even if negative), absorb it, and even do something about it (under my own free will). If the feedback comes from a “power-based” source, then I am much more likely to react to the feedback in a highly emotional and “irrational” manner, even if the feedback is positive. This, in turn, means that I am more likely to distort what I have heard. I might generalize what I hear (I become all good or all bad), shift the focus of the feedback (“Is he really talking about my team or is he talking about his own problems?”), or deny the feedback all-together (“Who is he to complain!” “She doesn’t know what’s she’s talking about!”).


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William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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