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The New Johari Window #27: Quadrant Three: The Locus of Control

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Genuine disclosure often involves meta-communication about what we do and do not want to disclose—the kind of meta-communication in which Kevin and Sheila might engage. These conversations are rarely boring. They may be threatening and even disturbing, but they rarely evoke either irritation or guilt.

When does movement from a false self to a more genuine disclosure occur? Will Schutz suggests that we must first address the interpersonal issues of inclusion and control in our relationships before we can honestly disclose. We must first establish that we really want to interact with one another (inclusion) and establish ways in which we will each contribute to and influence the nature of our relationship (control), before our disclosures will cease to be superficial and distant from the immediate situation and interpersonal dynamics. In a parallel manner, I suggested in an earlier essay that shared trust in intentions, competence and perspective is a prerequisite to genuine disclosure. I will have much more to say about these elements of disclosure in latter essays.

Discrete Self

What about the person who refuses to engage a false self—who would rather say nothing than “chat” about unimportant matters? What about the person who is reticent to talk about much of anything with strangers or recent acquaintances? These people have strong external barriers (like our Chinese colleagues) and are quite discrete in what they say and who they talk to about personal and interpersonal matters. When they do disclose, the material that is moved from Quad Three to Quad One tends to be important. It is rarely boring for other people.

The discrete self is commonly found among older men and women. As I noted previously, adult development research reveals that older adults tend to nurture fewer relationships than they did at a younger age. The relationships that they do nourish, however, tend to be deeper and longer-lasting. There is more genuine and sustained disclosure of important Quad Three material and less wide-spread (indiscrete) disclosure of superficial or well-rehearsed and distant material from Quad Three. We may find that the discrete self (as well as the selective self I described in an earlier essay) is being exhibited more often during the coming years given the “graying” of America (and many other countries in the Western world).

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