A theory that explains the way we usually approach our interpersonal relationships.
One difficulty in interpersonal relationships is the different impressions that each makes of the other. So much so that many times they lead to conflict, since they can treat us in a different way than we feel. However, others can be an ease, since we can discover, thanks to the other, parts of our personality and character that we did not know.
Types of relationships according to the Johari Window
A simple and straightforward explanatory model of how the known and unknown parts of oneself are mediated is the Johari Window, proposed by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham. In it, the “I”, the person himself, are distinguished on a horizontal axis; while on the vertical axis “the other” or “the others”.
This is how 4 quadrants are formed that distinguish four areas of self-knowledge in relationships :
Free area : it is the quadrant of what is known by oneself and by others. This quadrant includes everything that is communicated verbally and that becomes a mutual knowledge of people. It indicates the degree to which we make ourselves known to the world, we open ourselves up and make our experiences, thoughts, intentions and emotions known.
Hidden area : the hidden area comes from what is known by oneself, but not by others. This includes all the information that the person keeps for himself and does not expose; hides it from the eyes of the rest. This quadrant includes those personality traits that one is most reluctant to show or that one keeps to oneself.
Blind area : in this quadrant those features that we do not know about ourselves stand out , but that others do. From time to time we have been amazed and discovered parts of who we are thanks to what others have told us. This is when the blind area comes out; that by not being able to control everything we do, there is always something that hides from us and that only from the outside can we discover.
Unknown area : the unknown area includes everything that we do not know about ourselves and that the rest also do not know. It may well be seen as the area that both parties overlook; however at the same time it can be the area of growth and potential. Here is the ability to learn and grow, to learn new things about oneself and to discover them.
Explaining the picture
These four quadrants are dynamic, so they increase and decrease according to our vital moment, the type of relationship in which we are or the environment where we find ourselves. But at the same time they are dependent, that is, a change in one of the areas has the consequence that the others are mobilized. Thus, by making known part of who we are, we are reducing the hidden area and increasing the free area. This fact also implies that there are different ways to reach the same end, for example, the free area also widens as the other lets us know how he sees us, reducing the blind area.
The 16 different types of interpersonal relationships
Likewise, this model focuses on relationships with other people, in which self-knowledge is not only achieved through introspection, but also through information from the outside. In the same way, also when relating, the other has his own model of his Johari window. In this way, a total of 16 different types of relationships can be given. In order not to spread, only some of them will be addressed.
Free area relationships
In both people the free area predominates. In this way, the relationship is characterized by clear and precise communication, since there are no hidden sides and you have the necessary knowledge to be understood and understood. They are relationships in which empathy and acceptance, which allow us to understand the congruence that regulates how the other person does, thinks and feels. They are people between whom communication flows and they show reciprocal honesty. The keyword for free area relationships is understanding.
The other person becomes a companion, someone who understands your needs, and you understand theirs; a person who knows what looks and gestures mean and who, despite the differences, knowing them makes you tune in. However, on the negative side, there are no reservations and one can feel vulnerable. With a large free area, beware of anger and rage, which sometimes we function impulsively and if the free area is large, we know well where to hurt. In the same way, against clarity the mystery is lost; by making everything so clear there are not many questions to ask of the other and the interaction can be bland. Well that with so much understanding it is well known how to ask for forgiveness; or how to provide spontaneity, but the question in these cases is is there really intention?
Hidden area relationships
In this case, the largest quadrant is that of the hidden area, therefore, the other is hardly known. They are relationships that prioritize safety, staying safe and moving forward little by little so as not to be harmed. They could be characterized as highly respectful relationships towards intimacy, while keeping one’s own area hidden implies paying special attention to the limits and borders where one’s own and that of others begin. Therefore, the focus of the relationship is how to receive, and the key word for this type of relationship would be care.
However, they are relationships with fear as the main emotion, in which the fear of being hurt or of judgments may predominate. That can cause it to be difficult to take steps and to advance slowly for the whole way to go. There is also fear of conflict, so that it is most likely that things will tend to silence things, until one day it explodes, of course. In the same way, if the tendency to hide is greater than to discover the other, communication can be tangential, not at all clear, so that people never meet.
Blind area relationships
These are relationships in which people have a greater impact on their blind zone. Unlike those in the hidden area, each day is a discovery, but of what one is like as a person. They are relationships based on giving, characterized by being very sociable; we could say extroverted and impetuous. The main axis is communication, specifically in expressing how the other person is perceived; interpersonal explorers.
Therefore, they are a source of personal learning that promote greater self-knowledge, in which you see yourself in the eyes of the other. This is how your keyword is to grow. But be careful, sometimes they don’t grow for the better. On the other hand, the appearance of prejudices is likely and in discussions the other person can be crossed out of what he is not and, what is worse, that he believes it. Likewise, impetuosity more easily leads to conflicts, since we are not always satisfied with how they tell us we are; and focusing on giving can also be bad at those times.
Blind-hidden area relationships
They are stimulating relationships, since for the blind area explorer, there is a whole huge hidden area to bring to light in the other person. It is a challenge to discover it and a mystery to know how the other person understands the world. Likewise, for the careful concealment another challenge is also added, to continue to remain safe, not to be discovered. They are relationships that motivate like a game: discover and hide. Seen as a game, they are characterized by having many ups and downs and surprises for not having a stable rhythm; Today on the die it touches a 1, tomorrow a 6, the next time I go back to the first square! Because of this, his keyword is intensity.
On the contrary, be careful that the expectations that are created may not be fulfilled and, what’s more, if you dig a lot in the other, rejection can occur. They are relationships that may have a tendency to toxicity due to dependence and counterdependence ; one for obsessing over unraveling secrets and the other for the comfort of having a person constantly for him. Then there can be imbalances in the rhythm of each one of the relationship; While the blind takes steps without looking, the hidden watches each one. Also, their instability could turn them into fragile relationships, where both people can easily damage and hurt each other.
Some nuances and questions on the air
Relationships with strangers may be missed, but in those cases, how can one speak of relationship? At the end of the day it is the beginning of all, meeting a person and not knowing what he is like, as well as not knowing how you will be when you interact with him. Because if the Johari Window is dynamic, so are all the typologies that are derived from it. After being strangers, who knows if knowing the other will motivate us and we will be blind; or we will have cracks from past experiences and prefer to remain hidden.
Who knows if after taking shelter we gain enough confidence and go on to discover the other, let in the light and blind ourselves. Who knows if in our exploration of the mysteries we get hurt and we hide, we take shelter. But if the way is not well known, if the end is known, a free area in which you simply are, in which it simply is, because as its name says, free .