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The New Johari Window #23: Quadrant Two: Interpersonal Needs

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Our analysis of Quad Two is concerned with what other people observe in our behavior that leads them to assume (rightly or wrongly) that we have certain needs. If we are proactive (internal locus of control) is our expression of interpersonal needs, than the manifestation of our needs is to be found in Quadrant One. If we are reactive (external locus of control) than our needs must be discovered by other people—and their assessment of our needs may often be wrong, given that we have not articulated these needs ourselves. Other people must fill in the blanks and will often do so with untested assumptions about what we want and need.

The distinction between proactive and reactive expression of interpersonal needs becomes particularly important when we examine the dynamics of Quad Two. Will Schutz made a distinctive and important contribution to the study of interpersonal relationships when he identified not only the overt expression of an interpersonal need, but also the presence of unexpressed needs. When we are proactive, it is not only the case that our needs can be readily identified by other people, it is also the case that our behavior as motivated by these needs is less likely to be a surprise. Conversely, a reactive stance tends to encourage an expanding Q2. Other people must guess not only which interpersonal needs we wish to meet, but also which behaviors are likely to emanate from these needs.

Interpersonal needs are often difficult to fulfill through Q2, because we can’t directly determine —though usually can influence—the actions taken by other people. We hope that they will say something to us about our actions that will make us feel welcomed (inclusion), more powerful (control) or more trusted (openness), but this isn’t in our hands. Thus, people with a strong internal locus of control tend not to rely on this quadrant (Q2) or on reactive need fulfillment strategies.

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