We must repeatedly answer these questions, for the answers will vary from one relationship to another and from one interpersonal setting to another. For us to successful answer these questions, we must know something about the way in which we disclose information to other people and the way in which we receive feedback from these people. The first four of these questions primarily concern interpersonal feedback, whereas the final four questions are primarily about interpersonal disclosure. There are a couple of other perplexing questions that up the ante a bit regarding interpersonal intelligence:
9. To what extent in this relationship do either of us have much control over how we relate to one another or is it determined primarily by the roles we play?
10. What is preventing the two of us from forming a relationship that is more open with regard to both interpersonal disclosure and feedback?
Both questions concern the context within which interpersonal relationships take place and the ways in which we interpret our own behavior and the behavior of the other person within this context.
How do we go about answering these questions? What can we learn about interpersonal disclosure and feedback that will make us wiser in forming and sustaining relationships with other people? If we are in a helping role (as therapist, manager, minister, nurse, etc.), what should we know about the dynamics of interpersonal relationships that will enable us to be more insightful and hopefully more effective in being of assistance to other people? I propose that a model of interpersonal relationship has been available for many years that can help us address these questions and can help us be interpersonally smarter. This model is called the Johari Window.
No other model of interpersonal disclosure and feedback has been as often used as a teaching and coaching tool as this Johari Window (named after its two inventors, Joe Luft and Harrington Ingram). While many people know of this model of interpersonal relationships, it is sometimes dismissed as “old fashion” or “too simplistic.” These essays are dedicated to showing how the Johari Window is still quite relevant. In addition, I offer an expanded and revised version of the Johari Window, introducing several late 20th Century and early 21st Century concepts that provide even more insightful perspectives regarding these fundamental interpersonal questions and, more generally, the complex and dynamic dance of human interaction.