The Johari Window

Using Self-Discovery and Communication to Build Trust

Learn how to build good relationships with the
Johari Window.

Have you ever been part of a team where everyone was completely open with one another?

If so, then the chances are that you worked extremely effectively together. You knew your co-workers very well, and there was a solid foundation of trust between you. As a result of this positive working environment, you probably accomplished a great deal with this group.

Most of us realize that teams rely on trust in order to function productively, but how do you go about building that trust?

The Johari Window is a model that helps you do this, and it helps you learn important things about yourself, and so develop as a human being.

In this article we'll look at how the Johari Window works, and we'll see how you can use it with your team to improve communication and trust.

About the Model

The Johari Window is a communication model that is used to improve understanding between individuals. The word "Johari" is taken from the names of Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, who developed the model in 1955.

There are two key ideas behind the tool:

  1. That you can build trust with others by disclosing information about yourself.
  2. That, with the help of feedback from others, you can learn about yourself and come to terms with personal issues.

By explaining the idea of the Johari Window, you can help team members to understand the value of self-disclosure, and you can encourage them to give, and accept, constructive feedback.

Done sensitively, this can help people build better, more trusting relationships with one another, solve issues, and work more effectively as a team.

Explaining the Johari Window

The Johari Window is shown as a four-quadrant grid, which you can see in the diagram below.

Johari Window Diagram

From "Of Human Interaction," by Joseph Luft. © 1969. Reproduced with permission from McGraw-Hill Education.

The four quadrants are:

1. Open Area (Quadrant 1)

This quadrant represents the things that you know about yourself, and the things that others know about you. This includes your behavior, knowledge, skills, attitudes, and "public" history.

2. Blind Area (Quadrant 2)

This quadrant represents things about you that you aren't aware of, but that are known by others.

This can include simple information that you do not know, or it can involve deep issues (for example, feelings of inadequacy, incompetence, unworthiness, or rejection), which are often difficult for individuals to face directly, and yet can be seen by others.

3. Hidden Area (Quadrant 3)

This quadrant represents things that you know about yourself, but that others don't know.

4. Unknown Area (Quadrant 4)

This last quadrant represents things that are unknown by you, and are unknown by others.

The End Goal

The ultimate goal of the Johari Window is to enlarge the Open Area, without disclosing information that is too personal. The Open Area is the most important quadrant, as, generally, the more your people know about each other, the more productive, cooperative, and effective they'll be when working together.

The process of enlarging the Open Area quadrant is called "self-disclosure," and it's a give-and-take process that takes place between yourself and the people that you're interacting with.

As you share information, your Open Area expands vertically and your Hidden Area gets smaller. As people on your team provide feedback   to you about what they know or see about you, your Open Area expands horizontally, and your Blind Area gets smaller.

Done well, the process of give and take, sharing, and open communication builds trust within the group.

At first glance, the Johari Window may look like a complex tool, but it's actually very easy to understand with just a little effort. As such, it provides a visual reference that people can use to look at their own character, and it illustrates the importance of sharing, being open, and accepting feedback from others.

People who have a large Open Area are usually very easy to talk to, they communicate honestly and openly with others, and they get along well with a group. People who have a very small Open Area are difficult to talk to, they seem closed off and uncommunicative, and they often don't work well with others, because they're not trusted.

Other people might have a large Blind Area, with many issues that they haven't identified or dealt with yet. However, others can see these issues clearly. These people might have low self-esteem, or they may even have anger issues when working with others.

Using the Tool

The process of enlarging your Open Area involves self-disclosure. Put simply, the more you (sensibly) open up and disclose your thoughts, feelings, dreams, and goals, the more you're going to build trust   with your team.


Try to avoid "over-sharing" in your self-disclosure. Disclosing small, harmless items builds trust, however, avoid disclosing personal information which could damage people's respect for you.

Another important aspect of enlarging your Open Area is accepting feedback from others on your team. This feedback helps you learn things about yourself that others can see, but that you can't. This is important for personal growth.


Be careful in the way you give feedback  . Some cultures have a very open and accepting approach to feedback, but others don't.

You can cause incredible offense if you offer personal feedback to someone who's not used to it, so be sensitive, and start gradually.

If someone is interested in learning more about you, they can reciprocate by disclosing information in their hidden quadrant.

For example, imagine that you tell someone on your team that you're interested in going to business school to get your MBA. She responds by telling you that she enrolled just a few months ago, and then she tells you all about the MBA program that she's involved with. You reciprocate by opening up about your career goals, and you discuss how an MBA will help you achieve them.

As a person's level of confidence and self-esteem rises, it becomes easier to invite others to comment on their blind spots. Obviously, active   and empathic
  skills are useful in this exercise.

The Johari Window in a Team Context

Keep in mind that established team members will have larger open areas than new team members. New team members start with smaller open areas, because they haven't yet had the opportunity to share much information about themselves.


The importance of feedback in this process can't be overstated. It's only by receiving feedback from others that your Blind Area will be reduced, and your Open Area will be expanded.

Group members should strive to help other team members to expand their Open Area by offering constructive feedback. The size of the Open Area can also be expanded vertically downwards into the Hidden Area, as people disclose information and feelings to the group.

Also, group members can help a person expand their Open Area into the Hidden Area by asking personal questions. Managers and team leaders play a key role here, by teaching team members how to give constructive feedback   to individuals about their own Blind Areas.


The Johari Window is often used with a list of 56 adjectives such as "kind," "clever," or "idealistic." These adjectives can be used with the group to describe the person that everyone is focused on. You can see a list of adjectives to use here.

Key Points

Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham developed the Johari Window in 1955. The tool is a useful visual representation of a person's character, and is represented with a four-quadrant grid.

The goal of the Johari Window is to demonstrate the importance of open communication, and to explain its effect on group trust. The model also teaches you the importance of self-disclosure, and shows how group feedback can help you grow, both personally and professionally.

Your Open Area is expanded vertically with self-disclosure, and horizontally with feedback from others on your team. By encouraging healthy self-disclosure and sensitive feedback, you can build a stronger and more effective team.

This site teaches you the skills you need for a happy and successful career; and this is just one of many tools and resources that you'll find here at Mind Tools. Subscribe to our free newsletter, or join the Mind Tools Club and really supercharge your career!

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Comments (30)
  • Michele wrote This month
    Hi LiamD,

    Thank you for your comment.

    When I read this tip, my understanding of what the writer is saying is different. The key word for me is "over-sharing". In work situations, it is possible to share too much information. For example, disclosing the details of a relationship with a teammate or manager may reflect poorly on the individual sharing that information.

    Mind Tools Team
  • LiamD wrote This month
    One tip reads, "Try to avoid "over-sharing" in your self-disclosure. Disclosing small, harmless items builds trust, however, avoid disclosing personal information which could damage people's respect for you."

    In other words, don't really share who you are -- except for the most trivial pieces of yourself (I like long walks on the beach; I watched the first four seasons of Game of Thrones in a marathon session).

    That's going to build a lot of trust.
  • Michele wrote This month
    Hi Yasmine,

    Here is the link to our Permissions Help Desk.

    You will see a link regarding the Permission to Cite an article. The citation instructions are located here.

    Mind Tools Team
  • Yasmine wrote This month

    Thank you for your response. I have checked the referencing format my institution uses. Would it be possible to find out the author of this article?

    Kind regards,

  • Michele wrote Over a month ago
    Hi Yasmine,

    Our articles and tools are not published with a date. It is acceptable to cite and provide a reference for an article where there is no date associated with it. Some citation formats use n.d. for no date. Check the citation manual/guide your education institution uses to determine the acceptable format.

    Mind Tools Team
  • Yasmine wrote Over a month ago

    Could you please tell me when this was published. I would like to reference it in one of my assignments, but I can't seem to find a date of publication anywhere.

    Thank you for your time,

    Kind regards,

  • Yolande wrote Over a month ago
    Hi Gemma

    Thanks for your question. I'm not 100% sure what you mean, but I'm going to try and help.
    If you wanted to know whether we (Mind Tools) have a formal course incorporating the Johari Window, the answer is unfortunately no.
    The Johari Window as a concept though, is often used in training to explain how we see ourselves vs. how others see/experience us.
    If you'd like to use our material in a course, please be sure to contact our permissions centre to get the necessary permission from them to do so, as our content is copyrighted. The link to the permissions centre is here:

    If you have more questions (or if I interpreted your question incorrectly), please feel free to ask more.

    Mind Tools Team
  • GemmaC wrote Over a month ago
    Do you implement training with this concept?

  • Yolande wrote Over a month ago
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Johanna. I believe it's the skill of listening to understand instead of listening to respond that's so important...

    Mind Tools Team
  • Johanna wrote Over a month ago
    'That you can build trust with others by disclosing information about yourself.
    That, with the help of feedback from others, you can learn about yourself and come to terms with personal issues.'

    I understand the tool, but I'm uncertain of the technique to get people to open up.

    What I believe is missing is the importance of deep listening, allowing a person space to disclose with out interruption.
Show all comments

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