Remember the Johari Window?  Many of us were introduced to the Johari Window in the chapter on Feedback.  If you went back to your slides, you would notice that there are 4 quadrants.  In the upper right is the “I know, You know” box.  In the lower right is the “I know, You don’t know” box.  In the upper left is the “You know, I don’t know” box.  And in the lower left is the “I don’t know, You don’t know” box. 

We emphasized several things with the Johari Window.  A big emphasis was that, generally speaking, the more you can get into the “I know, You know” box, the better.  Here’s how that works:

  1. Feedback moves stuff from “You know, I don’t know” into “I know, You know.”
  2. Experience moves stuff rom “I don’t know, You don’t know” into “I know, You know.”
  3. Self-disclosure moves stuff from “I know, You don’t know” into “I know, You know.”

Over the years, I’ve received the most pushback on number 3. I heard some say that work isn’t therapy. Others say that my personal business is my personal business. And others have said that they lack the trust to practice self-disclosure at work

Here’s the thing: the people you work with are going to make assumptions and make stuff up based upon what they see and hear on the outside (your branches or the “DO” of the DoKNowBe Tree). While self-disclosure is an exercise in vulnerability, I believe it is also an exercise in EFFECTIVENESS. And it has little to do with skeletons or therapy.

So what are some of the top things as a leader you should consider moving from the bottom right to the top right, from the “I know, you don’t know” into “I know, You know”? What are key items about which practicing self-disclosure increases our effective? Appropriate vulnerability and self-disclosure means owning up to the right things.

  • Own up to who you be. The first thing you should think of when it comes to this is disclosing your root system, who you “BE”.  People will see what you do, and make correct and incorrect assumptions about what they see and hear.  You have a tremendous opportunity to help them with understanding the beliefs, values, passions, gifts, and wiring that is behind that. Your self-disclosure keeps them from false assumptions. For example, disclosing my wiring as an introvert has repeatedly helped others have that “Oh, that’s why he functions that way” moment.  Another example: Disclosing my beliefs about the power of listening helps others avoid false assumptions about why I am quietly hearing what is being said.

  • Own up to where you’re at.  We all have stuff going on in life that impacts our performance and interactions at work.  New stressors come up: new responsibilities, a new child, a new medication, a new illness.  We kid ourselves when we think the radar of others won’t pick this up.  We go a long way toward letting them off the hook of wondering what’s gong on or if they have done something that has offended us.  I’m not saying these things always need to be disclosed, but more often than not we are kidding ourselves when we think that people aren’t picking these things up and being impacted by them.
  • Own up to your mistakes.  One of the most important and most vulnerable things we can do is to say to others: I was wrong.  It may be a reaction, a decision, a missed meeting, or an oversight.  It can be easy to overlook these vital opportunities to be honest about our shortcomings.  When we do, we miss out on a great opportunity to build trust through honest apologies.  By the way, doing this also models a certain culture of what we may be wanting to create: a culture where we deal with things openly.
  • Own up to your history.  While you may not be ready to do the “Lifeline” exercise from the retreat with your team, it is important for you AND them to know that there are things about where you’ve been and what you’ve gone through that impact your current work.  Sometimes those things are physical- related to injury or accident or limitation.  Sometimes those things are emotional- we have certain things that trigger a stronger emotional reaction in us because of what we’ve been through.  It is amazing how reactions change from other people when they know some of our history.

People make stuff up about you based upon the limited data of what they see on the outside.  We can greatly impact our effectiveness simply based on “Owning up,” practicing the appropriate self-disclosure that begins with your commitment to moving something from “I know, but you don’t” into “I know it and you know it.”

Lead on,

Image by ai3310X. Used under CC by 2.0 license.