Trust is an integral part of any relationship. If we communicate in a way that undermines this trust, we have little hope of maintaining a relationship, whether that is a personal relationship or a working relationship with a fellow team member.
I have worked with couples and groups who refuse to communicate in an open way. Whether it is through fear or a lack of awareness, they continuously provoke mistrust in the other party to that relationship, expecting trust to simply materialise without any work on their behalf. The Johari Window is a useful tool to help with the hard work that is needed to establish trust. It helps us to develop self-awareness and encourage open communication and feedback, and it has been used with individuals, couples and groups.
In short, the Johari Window comprises the following elements –
As a result, the aim of any work on a relationship, any work to improve one’s communication skills, and any work on team building, should include an attempt to increase the amount of knowledge within the open area (to the extent that you feel comfortable with this level of disclosure).
There are numerous exercises to develop trust in a relationship, and I have set out below just one. I have used the example of a couple, but this could equally apply to a group of people, including a team in a working environment. What is important is that you approach this with an open heart and mind, remembering that humour can help grease many a cog!
Exercise – How you see me, how you don’t
Set aside a quiet time when you will not be disturbed. It does not have to be a very long period of time (perhaps 30 minutes at the maximum), but during that time you agree that no one takes calls or checks emails.
Agree with each other the following –
Divide up the allocated time (for example, 30 minutes) as follows –
1. 10 minutes - One member of the couple (Person A) offers answers to the following questions about the other member of the couple (Person B) –
2. 10 minutes – The other member of the couple (Person B) offers answers to the same questions about the other member of the couple (Person A) –
3. 10 minutes - Spend this remaining time discussing the answers each person gave to the other. During this discussion you may wish to –
Try not to act in a defensive manner, and try not to apologise. One person’s perception of you is as valid as your perception of the other person. And you may also have had valid reasons for acting in a certain way. But that is not the point. The point is to listen with an open heart and mind, because this will offer you the opportunity to learn about how you are perceived by others.
In closing, remember the assumptions underpinning the Johari Window –
For more information on relationships, and more information on work issues, please see links below.
Chris Warren-Dickins BACP Registered Counsellor
Counselling and coaching blog