One difficulty in interpersonal relationships is the different impressions that each person makes of the other. So much so that, they often lead to conflict, as they can treat us differently from the way we feel . However, other times it can be an ease, since we can discover thanks to the other, parts that we didn’t know about our personality and character.

Types of relationships according to the Johari Window

A simple and straightforward explanatory model of how one mediates the known and unknown parts of oneself is the Johari Window , proposed by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham. In it we can distinguish in a horizontal axis the "I", the own person; while in the vertical axis " the other" or " the others".

This is how 4 quadrants are formed that distinguish four areas of self-knowledge in their relationships :

  • Free area : is the quadrant of that known by oneself and others . This quadrant includes everything that is communicated verbally and that becomes a mutual knowledge of people. It indicates the degree to which we make ourselves known to the world, open up and make known our experiences, thoughts, intentions and emotions.
  • Hidden area : the hidden area comes from that which is known by oneself, but not by others. This includes all the information that a person keeps to himself and does not expose; that which is hidden from the eyes of others. Included in this quadrant are those traits that one is most reluctant to show or that one keeps to oneself.
  • Blind area : in this quadrant stand out those features that we do not know about ourselves , but that others know about . Sometimes we have been surprised and discovered parts of ourselves thanks to what others have told us. This is when the blind area comes up; that because we cannot control everything we do, there is always something about us that is hidden and that only from the outside we can discover.
  • Unknown area : the unknown area includes everything that we do not know about ourselves and that is also unknown to the rest . It may well be seen as the area that both parties overlook; however at the same time it may be the area of growth and potential. Here we find the ability to learn and grow, to learn new things about ourselves and to discover them.

Explaining the chart

These four quadrants are dynamic, so that they increase and decrease according to our vital moment, the type of relationship we are in or the environment we are in . But at the same time they are dependent, that is, a change in one of the areas has as a consequence that the other ones are mobilized. Thus, by making known part of how we are, we are reducing the hidden area and increasing the free area. This fact also implies that we have different paths to reach the same end, for example, the free area also expands as the other one lets us know how he sees us, reducing the blind area.

The 16 different types of interpersonal relationships

This model also focuses on relationships with other people, in which self-knowledge is achieved not only through introspection, but also through information from the outside. In the same way, also in relating, the other has his own model of his Johari window. In this way, there can be a total of 16 different types of relationships . In order not to extend, only some of them will be emphasized.

Free area relations

In both persons the free area predominates. In this way, the relationship is characterized by clear and precise communication, since there are no hidden sides and one has the necessary knowledge to be understood and comprehended. These are relationships that favour empathy and acceptance, which allow us to understand the congruence that regulates how the other person does, thinks and feels . They are people between whom communication flows and who are sincere with each other. The key word in free-area relationships is understanding.

The other person becomes a companion, someone who understands your needs, and you understand theirs; a person who knows what looks and gestures mean, and who, despite the differences, knows you. However, on the negative side, there are no reservations and you can feel vulnerable. With a large free area, be careful with anger and rage, that sometimes we function with impulsiveness and if the free area is large, you know well where to hurt. In the same way, against clarity you lose the mystery; by making everything so clear there are not many questions to ask of the other and the interaction can be bland. It is good that with so much understanding one knows how to ask for forgiveness; or how to offer spontaneity, but the question in these cases is, does intention really exist?

Hidden area relationships

In this case, the largest quadrant is the hidden area, so the other quadrant is hardly known. These are relationships that prioritize safety, keeping safe and advancing little by little so as not to be damaged . They could be characterized as relationships of great respect towards intimacy, as long as maintaining one’s own hidden area implies paying special attention to the limits and boundaries where one’s own and another’s begin. Therefore, the focus of the relationship is how to receive, and the key word for this type of relationship would be care.

However, these are relationships with fear as the main emotion, in which the fear of being hurt or of judgment may predominate. This can make it hard to take steps and slow down the whole way. There is also a fear of conflict, so there is a tendency to keep things quiet, until one day it explodes, of course. In the same way, if there is a greater tendency to hide than to discover the other, communication can be tangential, not at all clear, so that people never find each other.

Blind Area Relations

These are relationships in which people have a higher incidence in their blind zone. Unlike those with a hidden area, every day is a discovery, but of how one is as a person . They are relationships based on giving, characterized by being very sociable; we could say extroverted and impetuous. The main axis is communication, specifically in expressing how the other person is perceived; interpersonal explorers.

Therefore, they are a source of personal learning that promotes greater self-knowledge, in which you see yourself in the eyes of the other. This is how their key word is to grow. But beware, sometimes they don’t grow up for good. On the other hand, it is likely that prejudices will appear and in discussions you can cross out the other person for what they are not and, what is worse, believe them. Likewise, impetuosity leads more easily to conflict, since we are not always satisfied with how we are told we are; and focusing on giving can also be for the bad at those times.

Blind/Hidden Area Relations

They are stimulating relationships, because for the blind area explorer, there is a whole huge hidden area to bring out in the other person . It is a challenge to discover it and a mystery to know how the other person understands the world. Likewise, for the careful concealment there is also another challenge, to keep oneself safe, not to be discovered. These are relationships that motivate in a playful way: discovering and hiding. Seen as a game, they are characterized by many ups and downs and by surprises because they do not have a stable rhythm; today on the dice it is a 1, tomorrow a 6, the next time I go back to the first square! Because of this, their key word is intensity.

On the contrary, beware that the expectations you create may not be met and furthermore, if you dig too deep into the other, rejection may occur. These are relationships that can have a tendency to be toxic because of dependence and counter-dependence; one because of the obsession with unraveling secrets and the other because of the comfort of having a person constantly on your side. There can then be imbalances in the rhythm of each one of the relationship; while the blind man takes steps without looking, the hidden one watches over each one. Likewise, their instability could turn them into fragile relationships, where both people could easily hurt each other.

Some nuances and questions on the air

You may miss the relationships of strangers, but in those cases, how can you talk about relationship? After all, it is the beginning of all of them, to meet a person and not know how he or she is, as well as not knowing how you will be when you relate to him or her. Because if the Johari Window is dynamic, so are all the typologies that derive from it. After being unknown, who knows if we will be motivated by knowing the other and we will be blind; or we will have cracks from past experiences and prefer to remain hidden .

Who knows if after taking shelter we will gain enough trust and move on to discovering the other, letting in the light and blinding ourselves. Who knows if in our exploration of the mysteries we get hurt and hide, we take shelter. But if we don’t know the way, if we know the end, a free area in which you are simply, in which you are simply, as your name says, free .

Bibliographic references:

  • Fritzen, J. (1987). Johari’s window: exercises in group dynamics, human relations and awareness. Editorial SAL TERRAE.