The New Johari Window: #8 Unpredictability

The New Johari Window: #8 Unpredictability

As I noted in an earlier essay in this series, the postmodern condition combines complexity and unpredictability. There is a level of cognitive and emotional challenge that can be overwhelming. I’ve already spoken of the over-whelmed self.  It’s more than just the cognitive dimensions described by Kegan—there is also (as I mentioned) the emotional element. We diminish ourselves, we become selective—and we look for sanctuaries. These sanctuaries can be exceptionally valuable times and places for reflection, learning and renewal. They can also, in some sense, be “false sanctuaries”—places and times in which we meet with people of like mind. We move into life style enclaves where there is greater predictability and less complexity with regard to self-definition and identity.  We attempt to find false sanctuary by dulling our own senses (through use of mind-altering drugs or rituals) to avoid or diminish the challenges of the complex senses of postmodern self.  We either reduce the domain of exploration in false sanctuaries (Lasch’s minimal self) or engage in an obsessive focusing on the discovery of some “authentic” self (Lasch’s culture of narcissism). We retreat from full engagement in the world and the intricacies of interpersonal relationships.

There is another way in which we can address the challenges of postmodern complexity and unpredictability. We can look for some way in which to order the seemingly chaotic intrapersonal and interpersonal world in which we dwell. The Johari Window provides order—a way of sorting out, categorizing and thinking about human interactions. It is a “simple” model that doesn’t neglect the complexity and unpredictability of postmodern interpersonal relationships. We can use the Window as a guide not only for our own personal reflection (in a true sanctuary), but also as a guide for interpersonal dialogue about the specific relationships in which we are engaged. This dialogue hopefully takes place, itself, in a true sanctuary that provides both safety and encouragement of appropriate disclosure and feedback.


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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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