The New Johari Window: #9 Turbulence

The New Johari Window: #9 Turbulence

In essence, our emerging postmodern world of interpersonal relationships is filled with a set of these interacting subsystems. Each of these subsystems is internally consistent, coherent, self-regulating and self-fulfilling. Furthermore, subsystems in the whirlpool, stagnant pool and rapid flowing segments of the stream tend to replicate or mirror each other as well as the overall system. One part of the stagnant pool closely resembles all other parts of the pool, just as each of the dynamic elements of the whirlpool or moving water is replicated in all other parts of the subsystem. In the stream, however, there is also abundant disorder and turbulence as represented in the fourth type of subsystem. Turbulence, unpredictability, and complexity are found in those areas of the stream where more orderly subsystems are interacting.

As in the case of the postmodern relationship, streams that have many subsystems in interaction tend to create more turbulent subsystems than do streams with few subsystems. Streams will have many subsystems if there are many submerged rocks or trees (creating whirlpools and stagnant pools). At an even more profound level, it is interesting to note that any stream will tend to become more turbulent the more rapidly the water in it is moving. Any system will tend to become turbulent as the movement of subsystems within the system is increased. This acceleration of movement produces an increasing amount of interaction among the subsystems. Since there are not only an increasing number of people in our world who differ from one another, but also an acceleration in the change within and among these people, there is an increasing amount of turbulent, unpredictable and fragmented space in which people are interacting. Thus, we find, as in the mountain stream, a rich interplay between elements of order and elements of chaos, all intertwined in complex and turbulent subsystems of contemporary interpersonal life.

Thus, in relationships as in streams there are eddies, swirls and pools as well as very quiet but powerful flows of water. Sensible systems and subsystems meet one another and form turbulent and unpredictable white water conditions. We must somehow navigate these white water conditions as friends, lovers, parents, spouses, leaders, visionaries and co-workers. What are the interpersonal skills needed to navigate the white water? Whereas one can travel on a river by canoe or boat, the white water conditions of a mountain stream requires a kayak. Associates who are conversant with outdoor sports tell me that canoeing and kayaking require quite different skills and that kayaking in particular requires a clear sense of balance and the capacity to make quick decisions. I will be identifying many of these interpersonal (“kayak”) skills throughout this series of essays.


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About the Author

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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