The way to understanding oneself and others

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Do you wish to better understand your relationship with yourself and others? The Johari Window may be a good place to start! If you are in a leadership role, self-understanding, as well as understanding the stakeholders around you, is of paramount importance.

‘knowing others is intelligence, knowing yourself if true wisdom’ – Lao Tzu

The Johari window is a model which was created by psychologists Joseph Luft (1916–2014) and Harrington Ingham (1916–1995). Luft and Ingham named their model “Johari” using a combination of their first names. The model has four rooms or quadrants:

Open area or Arena

This quadrant contains information that you know about yourself and others know about you too. For example, you know you are tall, and so do others around you. Usually, the larger the area, the more easily people can build bridges and trust, and also find things in common. When someone is very quiet and reserved, you often cannot read them and feel that they are a mystery.

Blind Spot

‘To know yourself, you must sacrifice the illusion that you already do’ – Vironika Tugaleva

In this quadrant, there is information that others know about you, but that you may not know or realize about yourself. For example, others may know that you are likely to interrupt them during a conversation, but you do not realise that about yourself.
The more you are open to feedback, the more your blind spot can be minimized. By asking for feedback, aspects which are in the blind spot move into the arena. They become known not only to others, but to yourself as well.

Coaching can also help people reduce their blind spot. When our blind spot is minimized, we can be more effective as people, as our self-awareness is enhanced. We also become much more likely to better understand our impact on others.

Hidden area or Façade

Here, you will find the information that you know about yourself but have not shared or disclosed to others. For example, you know that you find maths or another subject challenging, but you do not reveal this about yourself.
While most of us like to keep certain things to ourselves, sometimes sharing things in the hidden area, can enable us to receive help, support or even empathy. When you are going through a rough time, but you do not share it, people may not be as tolerant with your mood swings, for example.


In this final quadrant, there is information that you do not know about yourself and others do not know as well. For example, if you have never spoken on the radio, you do not know how well you would perform, and others do not know this information either.

The more we expose ourself to new experiences and opportunities, the better we can explore ourselves, and the richer and broader our experiences can be.

At the very beginning of my career, I was invited to travel to Rabat, Morocco to provide learning and development support and participate in the re-branding of a luxury property in the capital. Back then, I had never delivered work outside of my native country. It was unknown to me and to others how I would perform or what the impact would be.

Having accepted this challenge and taken on this short assignment, I was able to go beyond my comfort zone – my native country. I was able to move working in a foreign country from the ‘unknown’ to the ‘arena’. This has helped open countless doors along the years for me. Having dared to explore the unknown and gone beyond my comfort zone, I was able to then take more and more assignments in South Africa, Seychelles, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Austria, Sudan, Turkiye and other countries!

When we restrict ourselves or when others put us in a box and create barriers in our way so we stick only to what we already know and master, we live lives that are far narrower than the ones we could have otherwise explored.

‘Outside of the comfort zone is where the magic happens’

Ayman Madkour’s motto is ‘Be inspired, Be inspiring’. He is a graduate of the American University in Cairo (AUC) and holds a holds a certificate in HR Business Partnership from Cornell University. His travels have taken him to 37 countries on five continents. A regular contributor to AUC Business Forward addressing a wide range of topics including: leadership, business, corporate governance, gender, coaching, talent, people and culture, learning and development, thriving, transformation and leading change, ESG, personal effectiveness, management and organizational excellence.

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