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Lately, I had another look at the Johari’s Window. I looked long and hard and realized that we actually control two windows and that only these two are crucial to all relationships; be they personal or professional.
The classical window looks like this.
|I know – You know (IK-YK)
Open areas: mostly external & very few internal; appearances, habits, traits one is consciously aware of
|I don’t know – You know (IDK-YK)
Partly open: mostly external & some internal; appearances, habits, traits one him/herself is not conscious about but others can see
|I know – You don’t know (IK-YDK)
Partly open: mostly external & some internal; appearances, habits, traits one can see in others but they are not conscious about)
|I don’t know – You don’t know (IDK-YDK)
Almost entirely internal; unresolved conflicts, thinking patterns, personal orientations
With due deference to the authors of the above concept, I wish to put interpretive labels on these sub-windows.
I know – You know (IK-YK) ——————————————— TRUST
I know – You don’t know (IK-YDK) ———————————– TEST
I don’t know – You know (IDK-YK) ———————————– IGNORANCE
I don’t know – You don’t know (IDK-YDK) ————————- OBLIVION
We are in control of Trust and Test windows. Ignorance and Oblivion take their due course as determined
Our relationships proceed in the following manner.
As we move deeper into the relation, Trust grows. It works both ways. As Trust grows, we move deeper into relation. During this development, Ignorance and Oblivion keep getting smaller.
What is the key thing happening that leads to all these changes? The only key thing happening is ‘SHARING’.
Sharing builds trust, reduces need to test, replaces ignorance and even helps in exploring the unknown.
The ‘I know-You know’ space increases only when we share. If we refuse to share or restrict ourselves, the Trust window shall remain small even if we are several years into a relationship.
The ‘I know-You don’t know’ or Test space correspondingly reduces as the Trust expands.
Ignorance is converted into knowledge through sharing and gives way to Trust.
And sharing helps us to discover hitherto unknown aspects of personality and thinking.
Sharing therefore is the key, the mainstay, the foundation and the building block.
When it is so clear and straightforward, why don’t we share? Why do our relationships keep suffering? Why do our relationships remain stunted? Unable to grow? What is the much touted ‘understanding’ that everyone is desperately looking for? Let us look at some relationships and see what actually is happening in real life.
Sharing is poorly understood at work place. We try to share our person where we need to share our expertise and vice versa. What we should share is our understanding of the place, people and task. It should preferably be statement of facts rather than a spicy commentary.
- You join your first or a new job. Everyone looks at you suspiciously first, trying to assess what brought you there, who recommended you and whether or not you are spying for some boss. No one is willing to talk to you. You have zero trust and are subjected to high level of test. There is no relation. If you make a conscious effort to prove that you are not too bad in the first days and weeks, then some sharing starts, tentatively at first. If you continue proving yourself worthy of sharing, Trust window keeps expanding. It looks quite natural but it wastes precious time and causes unnecessary stress.
- Bosses have the habit of putting new hires in the jungle without giving them a clue to survival. They refuse to share (brief) even the most basic elements. Then they watch the person falter, wander and coming out or not coming out live. After this, the real work starts. I have found multiple motives behind this and all of them are not nefarious. For example, it is held that new entrants should be left alone to make their own views rather than feeding them pre-formed, biased views. It is also said that it gives the new hires opportunity to examine everything from a fresh point of view which may help everyone else. It is at times purely sadistic and at other times vengeance through re-enactment of their own newness. Whatever the motive, the whole exercise is a big time-and-energy-waster.
- One of the questions among 12 questions used by Gallup for assessment of employee engagement is quite interesting. It asks, “Do I have a best friend at work?” Why is this question important? From my point of view, Simple. Friendship denotes presence of trust which is the direct result of sharing. People who share are the ones who are true team players. They will work together, help each other to succeed and in turn will bring success to the projects they are working on. It is a pity therefore that many senior managers spend huge amounts of time, resources and energy to make sure that staff remains divided and cause incalculable loss, apparent or not.
It is heartbreaking to see how much we suffer due to non-sharing. Why then we not prefer to share? What stops us? I believe three things prevent us, singly or in any combination. These are our internal fears, our life experiences and myths we hear all along life.
- Internal fears may or may not have any relation to personal experience. We carry these from unknown times and places. Fear of loss, of getting hurt, of getting ridiculed, of losing respect, of loneliness, of us against this huge world, of death, of becoming destitute, and above all, of the undefined unknown. We do not share, not because we do not trust the other person; rather, we do not trust ourselves mostly. Fears make us incapable of building and sustaining relations, fussing on small petty things, suspecting even after long standing association, and finally disabling us to love and be loved. Since we do not share, we do not build relationships. Period.
- Granted that our life experiences teach us. The quality of teaching however varies greatly. In a whole life of deliberately interacting with people, I have found that life experiences teach us only what we wish to learn. We have innate strong ability to misconstrue and misinterpret what an experience is trying to teach us. We learn, but mostly the wrong kind. Since it happens to be our very own experience, our wrong belief is beyond doubt. We usually internalize or externalize personal experiences but it is quite rare to meet someone who universalizes her/his experiences. Philosophers, spiritual leaders, men of true wisdom have the ability to extrapolate their personal feelings at a universal level. It is how they are able to draw meanings and offer teachings that other cannot. Due to strength of their ability to share, they are also able to build relation with everyone who crosses their way. Ordinary mortals like us are so engrossed in ourselves that we forget to share. A poor or non-existent relationship naturally happens.
- Myths rule our lives. We hear one thousand myths and believe them without bothering to analyze. Or we find ten out of them to be correct and believe all the others. Most myths are hearsay and feed on uneducated guesses and unintelligent reasoning. Some are outrightly stupid and outrageously senseless. We prefer to believe in them all the same, rather than challenging them as we consider it safe. Husbands have certain myths about handling wives while wives have their own set for handling husbands. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, lovers, even friends carry their own sets of myths about handling their relations. I have yet to find a myth that encourages to share; they all stop from doing it. The net result is the suffering we face, feel, cause and create. All this would change if we start sharing.
Do you have arguments against sharing? Please examine them before putting them up. Are they real? Are they well founded? Are they logical? If not, why insist on old ways? Why not change? Why not start sharing now?