Do You Really Want to Know What Other People Think About You?

October 7th, 2019 by

Your Blind Self is what others know about you – what they think and feel about you. It’s the “jackpot” for feedback from others.

And the Unknown Self is what others do not know about you, and, perhaps more significantly, what you do not know about yourself. It’s an area for growth and self-discovery.

When the two processes of self-disclosure and feedback are combined, we learn new things about ourselves – the UNKNOWN window opens. When you self disclose, you open your private window; and when you ask for feedback, you open the blind window. The interaction of self disclosure and feedback extend into and expand the Unknown Self. The process creates moments of self-discovery, of Wow! I didn’t realize I thought or felt or believed that. It can sometimes be painful, but it is more often gratifying, and it’s always a moment of learning about yourself that will be beneficial.

If you’re frowning or even flinching a little about self-disclosure and feedback you’re having a normal reaction. People end up in my office as a result of disclosing something that created problems or receiving feedback that caused pain. Consequently, understanding the skills/tools is important. This is not an exercise to jump into; however, it’s the way to grow in all relationships, to enhance understanding self and others – and, consequently, to enrich absolutely every relationship you consider important both personally and professionally. Just know it’s challenging and needs to be practiced mindfully.

For example, make a list of the people whose opinions you value. Consider what you would like to ask or explore with them about any area of your relationship. Next, make a list of some of the things you “hold back” but know you’d like to be courageous enough to share. Pick one person to start with. Reflect on a recent work project that went well and the person you worked most closely with to make it happen. Then try: I know ____ turned out well, and I’d like to know your honest opinion about my contribution. Or, What was it like to partner with me to get it done? You might also begin by pointing out one or two things you feel you could have done differently and would like feedback on what you did.

The same thing applies in personal/family relationships. You know I was upset when we discussed ___ and I’m not sure I handled it well at all. I want to know how you feel and I’m open to your thoughts.

These suggestions mean you take a deep breath and really listen. If at first all you accomplish is getting started on a better way of interacting, even if there’s an argument, you are, hopefully, making progress. The goal is healthier relationships and a healthier “you.”

Finding out what others think of us is quite amazing when it’s positive, and painful and disappointing when the opinion coming our direction is not at all what we want or even expect. The apprehension of the negative, the uncertainty, makes it challenging to really dig in and explore the thoughts and opinions of others. Regardless, knowing what others think and feel about us, getting relevant feedback, is actually quite essential for being the best version of ourselves possible.

An approach to make learning as much as we can about ourselves demands two things: Asking for feedback from others; and Self-disclosing what you think and feel – a twoway process for connecting authentically. A model called the Johari Window outlines a way to explore this process.

The diagram of the model, created by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham, involves a window with four panes. Your PUBLIC SELF; your PRIVATE SELF; your BLIND SELF; and your UNKNOWN SELF – a window pane for growth and self discovery.

The Public Self is the information that is known both to you and to others – obvious things like your name, your physical appearance, where you live and work, information about your family, and your community involvement. (Well, and whether you bought your vehicle from Aristocrat!)

Your Private Self includes all the information only you possess – things you must make a choice to share.

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