The New Johari Window #4: Three Perspectives on Human Relationships

The New Johari Window #4: Three Perspectives on Human Relationships

What then is the essence of American society and how has it influenced construction of the American school of interpersonal relationships? As represented in American homes and communities, American society is about high visibility and accessibility (what you see is what you get). Ironically, it is also about privacy and the desire to be seen only when we want to be seen. It is also about superficiality and image management (what you see is what I want you to see) and about attention to a few people (family) rather than a large community. These aspects of American society have profoundly influenced the goals and purposes of the American school—which represents both an acceptance and critique of American society. The superficiality and isolation are to be overcome with intentional interpersonal interactions that are replete with disclosure and feedback. Yet, the focus is still on the individual, not the community. Furthermore, there is still a somewhat uncritical embracing of the visibility and accessibility of the ranch house, Noitra home and modular office furniture. What you see is still what you get and what you get is still focused on the individual, not the collective.

There are specific challenges facing the American school as it addresses the emerging 21st Century version of American society. The suburbs are in retreat. New intentional communities are being formed—what Robert Bellah and his colleagues (1985) call “life-style enclaves.” Office space is now more user-friendly and build to encourage and sustain both the right of privacy and the joy of colleagueship. Furthermore, the complexity of human interactions—which is large in the original Johari Window—is even greater in our emerging postmodern world. The American School provides two responses to the new challenges of the 21st Century and this emerging postmodern condition of human interaction.

The first response concerns task-focus. Some members of the American school want to forget about complexity of interpersonal relationships and focus on the task. They have bought in the focus on individual achievement. Effective interpersonal relationships are geared exclusively to “bottom-line” results. We all become members of a Survivor cast who are getting along with other people only so that we can be the last ones on the island and can claim the million bucks. The alternative response is to be very sensitive to human interactions and to focus on the group process rather than the task. Primary attention is being directed to one-on-one relationships.


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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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