Home Interpersonal & Group Psychology Disclosure / Feedback The New Johari Window #29: Quadrant Three: The Three Schools of Thought

The New Johari Window #29: Quadrant Three: The Three Schools of Thought

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The response of Peter and Ellen to the reactions of other people regarding their disclosure would reinforce the stereotype or personal assumption. If another person essentially denies Peter’s declaration that he doesn’t feel particularly emotion, then Peter is likely to get more emotional—frustrated and even angry because his declaration is not being accepted. The prophecy is self-fulfilled: “See, Peter does get easily upset and is emotional, just like every other Italian man.” Similarly, the group would probably take the traditional feminine role away from Ellen and assign it to another person—often a person whom the group has assigned the role of “friendly [and non-protesting] helper” or even “martyr.”

Ellen would be viewed as a “troublemaker” and, in her own withdrawal (as she tries to figure out what to do next with this group), Ellen is likely to be seen as “sullen,” or “hurt.” This could easily lead other members of the group to reinforce their stereotype that Ellen is (or perhaps all women in their group) is/are “too sensitive” or “vulnerable”—hence must be handled with “kid gloves.” This is likely to make Ellen even more frustrated and perhaps angry. We now have reinforcement for the assumption that Ellen is (and perhaps all women in the group are) “uptight and angry.” The self-fulfillment loop is closed once again with regard to both Peter and Ellen. No new learning has occurred in either the relationship with Peter or the group’s relationship with Ellen.

There is no way in which either Peter or Ellen can get out of this “rule suction” without the assistance of someone else. Any further comments that either Peter or Ellen might make will only reinforce the stereotype or assumptions held (in Quad Two) by others in the relationship or group about the reasons for and “true meaning” of these disclosures. If either Peter or Ellen were allowed to speak up and disclose these concerns at a later point—especially after Peter and Ellen had already offered a variety of other verbal comments (not about themselves) and had displayed a wide range of behaviors—the stereotyping and self-fulfilling assumptions would be less likely to be sustained. The big risk, therefore, for the first discloser in a relationship or group concerns establishing an interpersonal “rut” in which the discloser’s personality and behavior is placed, never to be re-established in a more accurate and liberating framework.

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