The New Johari Window: #8 Unpredictability

The New Johari Window: #8 Unpredictability

Uncertainty and the Johari Window

What does this unpredictability mean?  First, it means that relationships are not subject to control by any one participant in this relationship. People interact in dynamic ways. There is never one Johari Window. There are always at least two—often three or four. Unfortunately, at times, the Johari Window has been portrayed as a static system: “I have a large Q2” or “I have a small Q3.” “My Q4 is shrinking.” This is not an accurate use of the Window. Our four quadrants expand or contract in relation to the person(s) with whom we are interacting—and the panes of their window are themselves large or small as a function of their relationship with us.

With regard to internal and external control, we are not sure what we can control, hence are not sure what we can predict. The reverse is also true: we are not sure what we can predict, hence we are not sure what we can control. We can influence a relationship, but not control it. Equally as important, we can seek to understand the complex nature of a relationship—but can’t predict precisely what will happen in the future with regard to this relationship or even what will happen one minute from now. If we can predict and control the relationship, then there is nothing but the external panes in both sets of windows. An external locus of control is dominating the interaction. The setting (rules, roles, scripts, social expectations) is dictating everything. There is no personal authenticity. The participants are all “actors.” No, this is not accurate, for actors are allowed some spontaneity and they add their own character to their part). Rather, the participants might as well be robots or computer programs in this type of relationship.


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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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