The New Johari Window VI:  The Postmodern Self

The New Johari Window VI: The Postmodern Self

We live in a world of complexity, uncertainty and turbulence that continues to call into question our sense of a coherent self and our sense of a consistent set of interpersonal relationships. The interplay between Quad 1 and Quad 2 is even more challenging, for we are likely to be interacting with an increasingly diverse set of people, hence are likely to receive increasingly diverse—even contradictory—feedback.

We are faced, furthermore, with the daunting task of repeatedly deciding each day what we want to reveal about ourselves to other people (Quad 3) whom we have just met and people whom we must work with in short-term relationships (what Bennis and Slater years ago prophetically described as the “temporary society”). This Q1/Q3 challenge is exacerbated by our inability to even know what is truly “us.” How can we share something about our self when we can’t decide what actually is our “self”?

What about Quad 4? I would suggest that our world of complexity, unpredictability and turbulence inevitably barrages us with multiple experiences, emotion-evoking images, and fleeting impressions that are never consciously processed. Rather they are stored in ways that are not easily accessed by our “executive brain”—yet have continuing impact on what is brought to consciousness by this sector of our brain. Recent neuro-science research suggests that our brain is involved in substantial activity about which we are not aware. Furthermore, this neural activity has profound impact on what we perceive, feel and think about. Our Q4 is very large, very influential and an increasingly important domain for research in all fields of psychology. The Johari Window is quite relevant as we begin to trace out the implications of these unknown parts of ourselves, especially as these parts influence human interactions.

There is much more to be said about the postmodern condition and its impact on our sense of self. The complexity, unpredictability and turbulence of our postmodern condition leads to the creation of four different senses of self (and a fifth sense—the appreciative self—to which we turn in a later essay).


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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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