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Negotiators: Know Thyself via the Johari Window

“He’s like an upside down iceberg. You see most of it and that’s not spin: there’s just not a lot of mystery to Joe Biden.”

- Pulitizer prize-winning Historian Jon Meachum.

“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”

- Socrates

“Who looks outside, dreams; Who looks inside, awakes.”

- Carl Jung.

“Don’t get too close. It’s dark inside. It’s where my demons hide.”

- Imagine Dragons, "Demons".

Negotiators are more effective when they are self-aware. Remember Socrates advises, know thyself.

Johari Window (JW) is a great instrument or exercise to accomplish self-awareness and professional development. JW is a mapping personality awareness instrument. JW contains a fixed list of adjectives to which one describes themselves and others describe them. Trust can be acquired by revealing information.

Characteristics of an Effective Negotiator

Kelly Robertson, in his article Characteristics of Great Sale Negotiators, outlines several key skills: Listening, creativity, patience, willingness to experiment, focus on win-win, understanding the negotiation process, and confidence:

“Confidence. Great negotiators are confident when they enter a negotiation. They aren't arrogant or rude or cocky-they are simply confident. They have developed a high belief in their ability to reach an win-win agreement. They are confident that they can handle anything that comes their way in a negotiation and this confidence is developed through experience. Great negotiators evaluate themselves regularly. They learn from their mistakes and victories. They focus on improving their skill. They develop an internal confidence that is unshakable.”

Dr. Don MacRae, in his article Ten Characteristics of an Effective Negotiator, outlines the following: Leave little to chance, listen, pay attention to nonverbal cues, Be innovative and creative, stay flexible, learn from mistakes, adopt a results-oriented approach, and show empathy:

“What is empathy? It’s an attempt to understand, be aware of and sensitive to the feelings, thoughts, experiences, frame of reference, interests (needs/priorities) and positions of your counterpart. Successful/Effective negotiators understand that in order to manage conflicting points of view and achieve a win/win result, you must provide your counterpart with convincing reasons to exchange their ideas for the ones you suggest. “

Shapiro Negotiations, in their article What Makes a Good Negotiator, asserts a variety of skills including anticipating others, intelligence, quick thinking, knowledge, confidence and compassion:

“Compassion and people skills. Negotiating is a social skill. The ability to connect with others is essential to being a good negotiator. Knowing what others are likely to want and how they will react to things means a good negotiator can easily manage an interaction.”

So, how does an effective negotiator gain confidence, compassion and empathy? Know thyself.

What is the Johari Window?

The Johari Window is a technique that helps people better understand their relationship with themselves and others. It was created by psychologists Joseph Luft (1916–2014) and Harrington Ingham (1916–1995) in 1955, and is used primarily in self-help groups and corporate settings as a heuristic exercise. Luft and Ingham named their model "Johari" using a combination of their first names.

In the exercise, someone picks a number of adjectives from a list, choosing ones they feel describe their own personality. The subject's peers then get the same list, and each picks an equal number of adjectives that describe the subject. These adjectives are then inserted into a two-by-two grid of four cells.

The philosopher Charles Handy calls this concept the Johari House with four rooms. Room one is the part of ourselves that we and others see. Room two contains aspects that others see but we are unaware of. Room three is the private space we know but hide from others. Room four is the unconscious part of us that neither ourselves nor others see.

What Are the Four Windows?

Each quadrant or pane represents motivation, feelings, personal information and whether information is known or unknown.

Open or Arena

Adjectives that both the subject and peers select go in this cell (or quadrant) of the grid. These are traits that subject and peers perceive.


Adjectives not selected by subjects, but only by their peers go here. These represent what others perceive but the subject does not.


Adjectives selected by the subject, but not by any of their peers, go in this quadrant. These are things the peers are either unaware of, or that are untrue but for the subject's claim.


Adjectives that neither subject nor peers selected go here. They represent subject's behaviors or motives that no one participating recognizes—either because they do not apply or because of collective ignorance of these traits.

What Are the Adjective Choices?

Among the sixty (60) choices are the following:

· able

· accepting

· adaptable

· bold

· brave

· calm

· caring

· cheerful

· clever

· complex

· confident

· dependable

· dignified

· empathetic

· energetic

· extroverted

· friendly

· giving

· happy

· helpful

· idealistic

What is the Ideal Window for an Effective Negotiator?

One therapeutic target may be the expansion of the Open (Arena) square at the expense of both the Unknown square and the Blind Spot square, resulting in greater knowledge of oneself, while voluntary disclosure of Private (Hidden or Facade) squares may result in greater interpersonal intimacy and friendship.

Some might say that for an effective negotiator, the open or arena window may be 80% of the entire window.

How Does an Effective Negotiator Expand the “Arena” Window?

There are a variety of ways for an effective negotiator to achieve the 80% open or arena window.

Sharing information: Of course, there is some information that a professional would not want to share. There is lots of information that could be shared so that others will feel more comfortable and will feel as if the negotiator is open. Many people subscribe to the sing-song: Open and Honest; thus, the more open one is, the more some folks believe one is being honest.

Seeking Feedback: At every opportunity an effective negotiator should seek feedback. They can seek feedback from their friends, colleagues and other negotiators.

Feedback should be sought instead of criticism. A great feedback model is the “plus/delta” approach. Step one: What went well? Step two: What could be improved.

Often one reacts better to feedback than criticism and thus is more likely to change if needed.

Self Examination and Reflection: Also, taking the time to examine one’s self and reflecting on one’s behavior assists in expanding the Arena window.

Affects of Pandemic Work at Home.

Some contend that one of the affects of the Pandemic Work at Home has been the expansion of the Arena Quadrant. They note that first, other workers per Virtual Meetings are able to see a part of the worker’s home. In many cases, other workers were able to see children, cats and dogs of their co-workers.

Some contend that workers working from home are more comfortable feeling freer to share additional information about their lives than they might in the traditional office.

Instrument Example:

Everyone can create their own Johari Window by going to

On that site, one selects five adjectives that best describes them. These adjectives are then placed in the arena window pane. Then one invites others to do the same. If they select adjectives that one has not, these adjectives add to the blind spot window pane. The adjectives that are not chosen by anyone are placed in the unknown window pane.

Information can be transferred among panes by mutual trust, socializing and giving feedback.

One can expand the arena pane or quadrant by:

-Asking for feedback and thereby reducing the Blind Spot Pane;

-Disclosing information or giving feedback and thereby reducing the Façade Panel.

Concept is Solid but Instrument Doubts

Most experts think the Johari concept is solid, but doubt the instrument.

Learning and evaluation expert (educational management) Patricio Sanchez noted possible concerns with the methodology. The contributors are handpicked; they may be small in number; and they lack anonymity. If so, there is potential that the results will be skewed to mirror or favor the biases of the selector. If the contributors are anonymous, randomly selected, and large in number, the results may have more validity.

Global business development expert James Crawford termed the instrument as “a thought puzzle. I am reminded of the difference between a resume (curriculum vitae) and an obituary. Both can describe the very same person but from entirely different perspectives. There is the public self that one hopes to present to the world. There is a more private self that one presents to friends and family in an unguarded fashion. And there is another self known to only a few. All are true but all cannot be summed up in one five word mix. Conclusion: I don't think much of the Johari Window Exercise.”

Both Sanchez and Crawford contributed to the above instrument example.


The concept of the Johari Window is a solid one. Most like that the larger the Arena Pane is the more confident and competent is the professional. One can enlarge the Arena Pane by sharing information, trusting others, and seeking feedback.

Instruments like the one this post highlighted are great learning tools. They may not be super accurate, but they provoke a discussion.


Maximum Influence, The 12 Universal Laws of Power Persuasion, Kurt W. Mortensen.

Say What You Mean. Get What You Want, A Businessperson’s Guide to Direct Communication, Judith C. Tingley, Ph.D.

How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie. “The first-and still the best book of its kind-to lead you to success.”

How to Negotiate Like a Child-Unleash the Little Monster Within to Get Everything You Want, Bill Adler, Jr., ISBN 0-8144-7294-X

Making Your Case-The Art of Persuading Judges, Antonin Scalia and Bryan A. Garner,, ISBN 978-0-314-18471-9


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