Imagine a typical conference room setting — a few colleagues with a task at hand and lots of conflicting opinions on how to do it. I found myself in a similar situation a while back, while consulting with a major retail clothing company from Dubai.
After several hours of discussions, the meeting had reached a stalemate with two colleagues stuck in a heated argument. I could observe that their disagreement had moved from objective rebuttals to subjective reactions. One was unwittingly invalidating the other at every turn. And as often happens in such cases, the people involved were not even aware of it.
According to this model, there are four windows to our mind, built around two concepts — how much we know about ourselves and how much others know about us.
- The “Open” window consists of our conscious self that is known to both us and others, including our feelings, views, attitudes etc. This is the area where most of our interactions take place. Think of it as the quadrant where you and the outside world meet, interact and build relationships.
- Those parts of us that we keep to ourselves are housed in the “Hidden” window. These are the facets of ourselves that we are aware of, but rather not disclose to others, such as our fears, insecurities and secrets.
- Sometimes, there are facets to us that others are conscious of, but we ourselves are not. That’s why they are called our “Blind spots”.
- And ultimately, there is that dark window that consists of the things neither we or others are aware of. It is called the “Unknown” area and may consist of hidden talents, abilities, suppressed feelings and emotions. These may be unknown due to a past trauma or simply because they never came up.
The Johari Window Model relies heavily on disclosure and feedback i.e. communicating with others about what we know of them, and what they know of us. Disclosing our feelings, thoughts and perceptions of others is as necessary as accepting feedback about ourselves. This two-way channel of communication helps expands the “open” area where most of our interactions with the outside world take place. But while this may help us identify some of our blind spots, how can we deal better with our hidden truths and indeed, how do we tap into the unknown at all? Enter graphology.
Handwriting can Throw a Light on all These Four Areas
Our Signatures can Decode How People Perceive Us
Most of us attempt to present a pleasant and positive persona but are we always sure of how we are perceived or what signals we may be sending out? Our signatures can help identify behavioural patterns like competitiveness, aggression, jealousy and even insecurity, which may be acting as our blind spots.
The Mystery of the Unknown
Many of us have innate abilities or challenges, which we may not be aware of. In one of my feedback sessions, an executive told me that he was surprised to learn that he had a different and more productive learning style than he was used to. In another, the participant was able to realize that her resentment towards a situation was caused in part due to her own sensitivity. Such revelations are able to bring relief and transformation at the same time. Just tweaking the approach can help us understand ourselves better.
Proof of the Pudding
Once we are aware of these four quadrants, we still need the tools to explore them. This is where handwriting analysis steps in to offer specific insights to help identify our characteristics and work with them in a focused manner.
In building our abilities to succeed, we often miss out on one crucial life skill – empathy. I believe this model offers a golden opportunity to build empathy by recognizing our own blind spots. As we understand others’ perceptions of us, we are able to open our minds to their points of view. This ability has helped many leaders to approach their teams with more tolerance, openness and acceptance.
As a graphologist, I have always been intrigued by the parallels between such psychological models and the art of handwriting analysis. In the case of Johari Window Model, I believe graphology has a strong role to play as a tool to open our windows and explore its contents further. Indeed, our handwritings inadvertently act as the fifth window to our minds. A huge chunk of our personality, including our talents, quirks, values, outlooks etc., both known and unknown, are write in the palms (and fingers) of our hands. All we need is for someone to open the window and let us in.