The New Johari Window #3: Interpersonal Relationships and the Locus of Control

The New Johari Window #3: Interpersonal Relationships and the Locus of Control

The gap between internal and external panes creates yet another problem. The gap often leads to cognitive dissonance. The person with the gap finds that his sense of self is filled with contradictions. The person he wants to be and has some control over is not very closely aligned with the person that he is as a result of external events and forces. This dissonance, in turn, encourages distortion in either his internal panes or his external panes. For example, I have consulted to a man (I will call him Daniel) who is quite careful about what he says to other people with whom he works (Quad 1-I). Yet, the people with whom Daniel works have given him feedback that they can “read him like an open book.” (Quad 1-E) They can predict how he will react in a specific situation, once they read his nonverbals. Daniel is faced with cognitive dissonance. He holds the self-image of someone who is able to “hold his cards close to his vest,” (Quad 3-I) yet apparently does not have a very good “poker face.” (Quad 1-E)

Given that Daniel is often negotiating with leaders from other organizations about purchases for his company, this discrepancy is a source of great concern. Sometimes, Daniel tends to over-estimate the power of his ignorant self (Quad 2-E), indicating that he is never able to hold a secret (Quad 1-E) and doesn’t even realize that he is giving everything aware through his nonverbal communication (Quad 2-E). Daniel often concludes that he can’t be trusted with information about his company’s financial status when discussing prices and terms with a vendor. He believes that he always “gives away the store,” when in fact he often is able to negotiate a fair price for products he purchases for his company.

At other times, Daniel distorts in the opposite direction. He believes that he is being a clever negotiator (Quad 1-I), when, in fact, the furrowing of his brow indicates to vendors that he is holding back financial information and is not yet at the lowest possible price (Quad I-E). Daniel needs a performance coach to help him modulate his sense of self or at least he needs a colleague to join him in the field and give him supportive feedback when he is being effective as a negotiator. This process of distortion based on the effort to resolve cognitive dissonance is an important, and often overlooked, aspect of human relationships. I will examine this distorting process in several different ways throughout this series of essays.


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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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