How do you discover your “blind spot” as a businessperson?

How do you discover your “blind spot” as a businessperson?

As part of an apprenticeship I’m working on at the moment, I’ve been introduced to the Johari window. This psychological tool is designed to help people make sense of their relationships with both themselves and others, and it’s a useful exercise for anyone looking to improve their skills in people management.

The name “Johari” comes from the first names “Joe” and “Harry”, the two psychologists who created it in 1955 (Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham). The model takes a person’s attributes and qualities and splits them into a grid with four sections – the Arena, the Façade, the Unknown and, most interestingly to me, the Blind Spot.

The Arena is probably the easiest box to fill, as this relates to attributes known to you and to others. For example, if you’re a shy or talkative person, you’re probably aware of that, and so are the people you work with.

The Façade is for anything you know about yourself, but others don’t. In the workplace, there may be qualities about our personalities or interests that we keep to ourselves, or try to mask in order to work better. Alternatively, you might describe yourself in a way that others simply don’t think is correct, in which case that is something on your mind, but not the minds of others.

The Unknown is for qualities you possess that neither you nor others know about, so it’s difficult to add anything into this area. It’s likely to be for anything you haven’t had the chance to explore about yourself, either because it isn’t relevant to your role, or the opportunity hasn’t come up. Someone working as a shelf-stacker in a supermarket, for example, may actually be a lot better as a cashier but hasn’t had the chance to show that. Perhaps the main point of this section is to encourage people to diversify, and to urge managers to give staff a variety of roles.

Finally, the Blind Spot is particularly interesting, as it looks at what others know about you that you are unaware of, so how can you find this out?

Discovering your Blind Spot

The course I’m taking advises you to ask someone you trust to describe how they see you, so it’s probably best to consult a manager or other team member rather than a close friend, and be sure to ask them for a balanced assessment highlighting both the qualities you bring, and the areas you could work on.

Due to the nature of the Blind Spot, you should expect to be surprised by what you find here, but it won’t necessarily be an unpleasant surprise. The term “blind spot” is usually used negatively, but in the Johari window, it can mean something positive you possess but are unaware of. In my case, I’m generally more aware of my shortcomings than my qualities, so it was good to read that I’m seen as forthcoming with ideas and asking the questions others are thinking.

Remember that while these Blind Spot assessments may be unnerving to read, they can be tricky for others to write too, especially if you’re a leader or manager and you’re asking someone who reports to you. Make sure you stress to your colleague that you want an honest assessment, and don’t take offense at what you read – it will have been difficult for your colleague to write it, and if they come up with something you disagree with, that’s kind of the point!

When you’ve identified your Blind Spot, you can then focus on it. If it’s something good, that means you’ve been doing it well without even realising it, so think how well you could do it if you made it a key part of how you perform at work. On the other hand, perhaps there’s something you’ve done the same way for years because you assumed it was working well, and now you’ve learned that your colleague disagrees. The learning there is that nothing should be done in the same way forever simply because “that’s the way we’ve always done it”.

This model can be employed by any businessperson, or can even be used to get an idea of how you see your company, and how this differs from the way your clients or customers see it. By identifying your Blind Spot, you can work to your strengths and address your weaknesses, shoring up your profile as a confident and productive individual.

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.
John Murray

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