The New Johari Window #30: Quadrant Four: The Unknown Area

The New Johari Window #30: Quadrant Four: The Unknown Area

The fourth quadrant is filled with paradox and enigma. It provokes convoluted questions similar to the one we all confronted in elementary school as junior philosophers: “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is present, then does it still make a sound?” In the case of our Johari Window, the question is: “How do we know Quad Four exists, if no one is aware of what’s in it?”  Even if we accept “on faith” that the tree does make a sound and that Quad Four material does exist, how do we discover what is in this quadrant and how do we appreciate the impact which Quad Four content has on the other three quadrants?

Inference and Reflection

Joe Luft suggests that we know what is in Quad Four through the processes of inference and reflection. First, let’s examine what Luft said about inference:[i]

Understanding Q4 functions in the total picture is important because in everyday life there is obviously the same kind of problem. Relationships within organization are often so complex and intense and so resistant to rational, logical approaches that they clearly suggest the presence of deeply hidden and unknown areas of behavior.

Thus, we can infer something about the content of our own Quad Four by noticing what is unusual about our relationships with other people.


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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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