How to See Your Blind Spot

The dilemma:

We never really know how we appear to others, nor do we know if they truly understand what we are trying to say. This is a universal challenge of communication. The writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery summarized it perfectly: “Language is the source of misunderstandings”.

The gap betweenour intentions and how others perceive us is a ‘blind spot”. It is a major obstacle to effective communication. Fortunately, there are ways of shrinking the ‘blind spot’.  Let’s look at one of those methods:

Johari Window:

Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham built the Johari Window (Joe and Harry) in 1955.  The model differentiates between our own perception, and the perception of others. The Johari is built on a four-paned window (see below).

The two columns show the ‘Self”, including things ‘Known to self’ and things ‘Not known to self’. The two rows represent the perception of ‘Others’. This contains things ‘Known to others” and things ‘Not known to others’.  The intersection of the columns and rows creates four quadrants; namely: Shared, Blind, Hidden, and Unknown.  Let’s look at those zones:

The ‘Shared’ zone contains information that I know about myself, which is shared with people in my group.  This zone is increases as people share information about themselves in trusting work places. The more personal information is shared, the bigger the shared zone.

The ‘Blind” zone includes information known by others, but not known by me. Over half human communication is non-verbal, so this zone includes the messages I communicate with my body language, habits, mannerism, voice, tone and style.

My ‘Hidden Area’ holds information known to me but not shared with others.  Included in this quadrant are feelings, opinions, prejudices, and even past history.  Everyone has secrets.  Why?  Because people fear full disclosure will provoke rejection or ridicule.  Others withhold information so that they can manipulate people, in the future. Or, people are simply modest about their accomplishments and talent.

The ‘Unknown’ is the ultimate blind spot.  It includes stuff unknown to me, and unknown to others.  Some of this information is deeply embedded in what Freud called the ‘unconscious’. It is only accessible through hypnosis, or psychoanalytic study.  Nevertheless, some unknown data is discovered when we work with others to make sense of our individual feelings and behavior. (more…)

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Feedback – How to do it and why it matters

“O wad some Power the giftie gie us, To see oursels as others see us! (Scottish dialect)” — Robert Burns

“Oh would some Power the gift give us, To see ourselves as others see us. (Modern English)” — Robert Burns


Feedback is not merely someone’s opinion. Rather, feedback tells you how you are doing.  It is the cornerstone of leadership because it steers improvement. True, most of us dislike unfavorable feedback, especially if it is unjustified.  Nevertheless, if we treat feedback as information, rather than judgement, it is the foundation of our own transformation. The goal is learning. And improvement means adjusting our behavior, and techniques, based on performance.


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Presencing – a way to connect the dots, going forward

“In the 21st century, organizations have to achieve peak performance by creating conditions that allow them to unleash the power of their people – not leading them, not managing them, but co-inspiring them. ” — Kevin Roberts, Saatchi and Saatchi

Theory-U and Prescencing

Otto Scharmer’s book, Theory U, outlines a perceptual model for boosting creativity in individuals and teams.  Graphically, the model is presented as a U-shape:

How does this work, in practice?

At the outset, we must suspend our assumptions (upper left-hand) part of the “U”. Even if we are entering a situation, where we have experience, we give ourselves permission to look at the scenario with totally fresh eyes.  By suspending our assumptions, we avoid projecting any personal bias on the situation.  This is opening the mind. (more…)

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