The New Johari Window #7: Complexity and the Postmodern Condition
This is what Quad Four is all about—the surprising truths about ourselves that are waiting to be revealed by ourselves or by other people. It’s not that other people know what’s in our fourth quadrant. Rather, it is an inadvertent comment that provokes or evokes the insight (sight inward) within us. Alternatively, it is feedback (Quad Two) about one aspects of our behavior that provokes or evokes something else in us. It might instead be the act of revealing something about ourselves (Quad Three) (such as Polanyi’s definition of “truth”) that solicits a comment or observation by someone else—which, in turn, leads to our own internal-sighting from Quad Four (such as one of Polanyi’s sources in his definition of truth). I would suggest that this is the fundamental reason for exploration of Quad Four in the midst of a complex and demanding postmodern life. It is in this quadrant that we are most likely to gain access to something that might in some way be mysterious, surprising and “true.” Quad Four contains information about our self that is unvarnished, de-constructed, minimally-manipulated and compelling. It is certainly worth a glance.
When we do, finally, turn to our open quadrant (Quad One), we are faced with the prospects of a saturated or overwhelmed self. We become obsessed with self and must decide whether to diminish our sense of self or become more selective about it. We withdraw from other people in order to reflect on self and figure out what we want to do next. This retreat is quite understandable—and essential in our complex, unpredictable and turbulent world. Yet, the Johari Window points us to an even more important truth about self—and in particular it points differently to the self in each of the four quadrants. We ultimately find out more about all four quadrants by interacting with other people—not by withdrawing from them. We get out of an obsession with an increasingly isolated and diminished self by returning to the wisdom of Harry Stack Sullivan—a psychiatrist who courageously sought to interact with and relate to the most challenging of people—the schizophrenic. Sullivan suggests that “self” is always defined in relationship to other people—to interpersonal context. He proposes that “personality is the relatively enduring pattern of recurrent interpersonal situations which characterize a human life.”