The New Johari Window #23: Quadrant Two: Interpersonal Needs
The fourth strategy is the most controversial and often the most powerful. It concerns the exploration and discussion of underlying and often unacknowledged interpersonal needs through the use of projective techniques and analyses. Underlying this strategy is the assumptions that we often do not recognize our own interpersonal needs and that we often project these needs out into the group or onto other members of the group (the British School’s perspective). The Group Relations Conferences conducted by the Tavistock Institute in England, as well as by the A.K. Rice Institute (Washington D.C.) and GREX organization (San Francisco), focus in particular on these unacknowledged interpersonal needs and ways in which these needs are displayed indirectly and through collusion in a group.
Often the group facilitator is a recipient of these projected needs (as is the case with psychodynamic-oriented psychotherapists). The group’s task is to identify and analyze the nature of these projections. At a somewhat more basic level, one can use motion pictures as effective devices for identifying projected interpersonal needs. A colleague of mine, for instance, asks workshop participants to bring their favorite movie about leadership to the workshop and to identify a specific scene in that movie that demonstrates effective leadership. Each participant presents her segment from the movie and indicates why she thinks it exemplifies effective leadership.
The group members then discuss the interpersonal needs that seem to be manifest in this segment of the movie. From this point, more in-depth discussions take place among the workshop participants (usually in two or three person groups) about how the activities and needs manifest in the movie relate to their own work and needs as leaders in their own organizations. Whether participating in a formal Tavistock workshop or exploring one’s own projected interpersonal needs through an “action flick” or a highly romantic film, the value of such experiences is great. These exercises are especially valuable when engaged by men and women who operate in formal leadership roles—given that they are likely to be vulnerable to the interpersonal need projections of other members of the organization, as well as being inclined to project their own interpersonal needs on to other members of the organization or outside the organization.