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  • Writer's pictureLisa Jones

How do other people see me?

It’s easy to imagine that we are who we think we are to ourselves as well as other people, but is this really the case? Have you ever been told something about yourself that seems just plain ridiculous? You think; “They must be confusing me with someone else, that’s not me!”

But sometimes, it might be useful to listen to the feedback and really think about it, maybe you do reveal parts of yourself that other people can see but you can’t. If we flip it around and consider how you see other people in your life – it might be easier to understand. If you know someone who acts a certain way but just can’t see it themselves, you don’t think you have it wrong do you? You just know they can’t see that side of them.

By listening to feedback that is delivered in a gentle, caring way, we can expand our self-knowledge. In the same way, we can choose to share more of ourselves with other people, so they know us better.

The model, Johari’s Window (Joseph Luft (1916–2014) and Harrington Ingham (1916–1995), shows us these sides in a really simple way. It also tells us that however much we share or listen to feedback, there will always been hidden parts of ourselves (that only we know) and our “blind side” that we are unaware of, but other people can see. So, it becomes an ongoing process and a movement through to self-awareness.

As you can see from the diagram below, there is a fourth quadrant that neither we or other people can see, our subconscious. But as we explore and make realisations about ourselves, these move through to consciousness as well and continue the cycle. Again, there will always be 4 quadrants, so don’t imagine your window will ever be one wide-open self.

As an exercise, you can start to identify qualities you have in each of these areas. You can do this in a group or with one other person. Be careful though, the conditions need to be right in order to aid disclosure and feedback in a respectful and gentle way. After all, you will be sharing parts of yourself that you choose to keep hidden and you will be providing feedback to someone else who may not recognise what you are saying about them. Its also important to note that whilst people can provide feedback to you, you get to choose if you accept it or not. This can be tricky as it’s called our “blind spot” – but if you don’t agree with the feedback, believe it to be wrong or don’t feel ready to accept it – you can reject it.

This exercise is best done with the 55 adjectives listed below. If you choose 5 for each of the left-hand quadrants for yourself, ask someone else to choose 5 for the top right quadrant. Once a word is used it cannot be reused. The remaining words all go in the Unknown area. Hopefully, it will promote some good conversation and some self-reflection.

  1. able

  2. accepting

  3. adaptable

  4. bold

  5. brave

  6. calm

  7. caring

  8. cheerful

  9. clever

  10. complex

  11. confident

  12. dependable

  13. dignified

  14. energetic

  15. extroverted

  16. friendly

  17. giving

  18. happy

  19. helpful

  20. idealistic

  21. independent

  22. ingenious

  23. intelligent

  24. introverted

  25. kind

  26. knowledgeable

  27. logical

  28. loving

  29. mature

  30. modest

  31. nervous

  32. observant

  33. organized

  34. patient

  35. powerful

  36. proud

  37. quiet

  38. reflective

  39. relaxed

  40. religious

  41. responsive

  42. searching

  43. self-assertive

  44. self-conscious

  45. sensible

  46. sentimental

  47. shy

  48. silly

  49. spontaneous

  50. sympathetic

  51. tense

  52. trustworthy

  53. warm

  54. wise

  55. witty

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