Do You Really Know What Others Are Experiencing?

When was the last time you looked at someone else’s life and thought they had it all? As far as you’re concerned, they have a great job, take great vacations, and are always surrounded by a fun group of people. It looks perfect, but did you ever consider what they might not be revealing?

Welcome to Johari’s Window. Created in 1955 by American psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrison Ingram, the window is a model for understanding and training self-awareness, personal development, improving communications, interpersonal relationships, group dynamics, team development and inter-group relationships. There are four quadrants of this model to understand:

  • Information that I know about myself, and others know about me, too: This area is known as being open or free because you admit things about yourself, and you’re willing to share this information with others. For example, you know you over-react in certain situations; you admit it and others recognize this about you. It is possible that you’re all involved in strategies to improve this tendency, or maybe you all accept it as reality and there are no plans to change, or attempt to change, anything.
  • What I know about myself, but keep others from knowing: This is the quadrant where you may tend to keep information to yourself; you’re not willing to share this. Are you afraid of something, but don’t want anyone else to know? Are you dealing with a difficulty in your life, but others are unaware?
  • What others know about me, but I am oblivious: Here, others realize information about me, yet I do not have a clue. It could be that I don’t know about an upcoming change in my personal or professional life, or something about someone else in my life. It could even be what others see as my response to certain situations, and I don’t even realize how I am reacting.
  • What is known to no one, neither myself, nor others: In this final quadrant, we’re all uninformed. This could be a natural ability or aptitude of which everyone is unaware, a repressed or subconscious feeling, or an illness of which no one is yet aware.

It seems so easy to give a surface glance in someone else’s direction, and presume to know their reality. But, in truth, we cannot understand someone else’s situation, and how they feel about it, if it is not our personal experience. We can, however, have empathy and compassion. For what they are experiencing. For the difficulties they are facing. For the decisions they are being forced to make.

It has been said many times and in many ways,

You never know what other people are going through.

For Johari’s Window, this would be quadrant two: What I know about myself, but keep others from knowing. Whether in the personal or professional sphere, having the “inside skinny” is certainly going to impact decisions and outcomes. But, at least being aware that there might be another reason for what is taking place is well worth considering.

What else could be true?

What could be impacting this decision?

If I were the root of whatever is happening, how would I like others to respond to me?

Maybe, just maybe, giving consideration to other possibilities will offer you needed relief.

Dr W



Follow Dr Wolbe on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.

Read her books and learn about her bracelets.

Photo by Daniel H. Tong on Unsplash

Leave a Comment