Use the Johari Window Model to help you create and maintain relationships, explains Lindsay Taylor

There’s a lot of AI hype now, isn’t there? I hope, like me, you think it’s exciting that there’s so much technology to assist you in your roles. My belief is that human connection is at the beating heart of all we do as business support professionals. That emotional element will never be replaced by AI.

We must not lose sight of this as we continue to create and maintain relationships. That is my focus for this article as I invite you to “open the window”.

How Do You Create and Maintain the Best Relationships?

It all comes down to communication. Cue one of my favourite learning models, the Johari Window Model.

Attributed to American psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, who put their heads and names together in the 1950s, the model explains the stages of awareness that exist when communication occurs.

The open window

When information is in the OPEN window (known to yourself and known to others), there is a transparency of “what’s what.” A mutual understanding of each other’s preferences and values will set the foundation for a deeper connection.

We should be striving to fill the OPEN window so we can create these great relationships and build our knowledge and awareness. 

The hidden window

Consider the HIDDEN window. Whilst there will be information that you don’t want to disclose to others (“self-disclosure”), consider whether communicating information will better a situation or relationship. Of course, some information you may want to keep HIDDEN because it will give you an advantage over your competitors (“competitive advantage”) or it’s private to you and not relevant to share.

Ask: What information would it be useful to communicate to the other person(s)? Will this contribute to a better working relationship between us? Will sharing this information help me and/or the other person(s) achieve what we need and want to achieve? Does sharing information about myself advocate transparency and authenticity?

A degree of self-confessed vulnerability will promote empathy and a deeper, more emotional connection with others.

The blind window

To get information into the OPEN window that is BLIND (not known to yourself but known to others), become adept at asking questions. What information would it be useful for you to know from the other person(s)? What is their expertise/knowledge? How can the things they know be useful to you? Ask for feedback from others and use this as a development opportunity.

The unknown window

Consider the UNKNOWN window. Often, you’re the “go-to” person in your organisation when someone wants information. One of your team members may ask you a question that you don’t fully know the answer to. A professional response would be:

“Great question! Honestly, I don’t know the full answer to that. I will find out for you and get back to you!” 

Once you’ve found the answer and shared it with your team member, that information then goes into the OPEN window for you both.

Collaborating with another person to discover unknown information will also create a deeper connection. I have a lovely memory with my daughter, Lottie. At age 4, Lottie wanted to be set homework or “prep” from school – she saw how much homework her older brother, Josh, was getting and considered it a “grown-up” and exciting thing to be able to do!

Lottie bounced out of school one Friday waving the class penguin, Adelie, at me (the soft toy variety, of course!). In a tumble of excited words, she announced she was tasked with looking after Adelie for the weekend and had been set some “prep” to find out as much as she could about penguins.

“What do you know, Mummy?” she asked, to which I frowned and replied, “Not much, darling!” Lottie’s favourite phrase at this age was, “If you don’t know something, Mummy, Google it!” and she excitedly piped up with this.

We spent the most gorgeous Sunday afternoon Googling penguins and discovered all sorts of facts (David Attenborough would be impressed!). To this day, the memory makes me smile!

Study the Johari Window Model. How will you use this to create and maintain the best working relationships? Human connection is at the beating heart of all we do as business support professionals, and that emotional element will never be replaced by AI.

Lindsay Taylor is the Director of Your Excellency Limited. A former EA herself, she appreciates the challenges and diversities of the role. Lindsay is a preferred training provider with The Institute of Administrative Management (IAM), one of the oldest ... (Read More)

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