How to use Johari’s box to help introverts

Last updated Mar 23, 2021 | Developing staff

How to use Johari’s box to help introverts

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As a leader one of your main roles is to improve the productivity of your team, helping them perform better. The Johari box (sometimes called Johari’s window) is a simple tool that could help you do that and help you manage introverts.

What is Johari’s box?

The Johari box is model that helps people better understand their relationship with themselves and others. It was created by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingram in 1955 (Jo Hari comes from their names to create the model’s name).

There are four quadrants:

  1. Open: The things both you and others know about you.
  2. Hidden self: Things you know about yourself, but the others don’t.
  3. Blind self: You don’t know these things, although others around you do know them.
  4. Unknown: Things about you that neither you or the others around you know.

If others understand you and you understand yourself you’re likely to be more effective in communicating/ being part of a team.

How could you use Johari’s box for introverts?

In simple terms your team will be more effective if the “open box” is open and the other three boxes are less open.

Start with you, the leader.

Your first step might be to consider how to close your “hidden box”. When your team are not aware of a leader’s goals or concerns, team members will normally fill the void and guess (it’s human nature). Sometimes the guesses are accurate, sometimes damaging. The first part of opening is self disclosure.

Some years ago, as a retail area manager, I had in my head (and only in my head) the idea of moving one of my store managers. I was shocked when I overheard that the “rumour mill” had already decided that’s what I was doing, as I only thought about it on the drive in that day. This example turned out well, but it could easily have been damaging.

Keeping things hidden from your team is sometimes needed (my example above), but often causes problems. How can your team help deal with issues you’re worried about, when they aren’t aware of them? One way of closing the “hidden box” is to talk to your team about:

  1. Your top priorities and their time-frames
  2. The issues that keep you up at night

Doing this can give you team and colleagues the opportunity to offer help.

Closing down the blind box allows you to know things you can’t see and others can. It needs courage to be discovering things from you blind spot, but also to be the one who tells you! Learning from the group means getting feedback, creating a culture where feedback is “safe” maybe started with helping the group give you feedback.


Johari’s box can help you see what feedback does. One of the best methods is to get ongoing honest feedback, frequent one to one sessions with your team will help. These three questions will help your team to tell you – as long as they trust you!

  1. What should I start doing?
  2. What should I stop doing?
  3. What should I keep doing?

The more people trust you, the better the information you’ll get. What are you doing to create that trust?

“trust me I’m your boss”

is about as believable as

“Trust me I’m a Doctor”

Be aware of the potential problems with feedback, rather than assuming all feedback is good.

How to manage introverts using Johari’s box.

Introverts tends to be more private than most people in your team, so their “open box” is more closed. They may improve their skills if their “blind box” is more open (them accepting more information from you). Team effectiveness should improve if their hidden box closes (them letting you/ the team know more about them).

Step one was addressing you as the leader, for and unless you open up, it’s a reasonable bet the introverts in your team won’t!

4 considerations when using Johari’s box

  1. Sustainable change for a good reason: Introverts need to believe it’s real and sustainable, if it feels like “idea of the week” they will resist.
  2. Safety: Private people need to feel safe. Introverts tend to be more private than extroverts, but anybody needs to feel they’re in a safe environment before they’ll open up.
  3. Feedback: If feedback is to be effective it has to be something that somebody wants to receive. You, or team members, telling somebody things that are in their “hidden box” is feedback and can be very sensitive.
  4. Loud raucous discussion: Introverts tend not to like loud noisy environments, so if the team discussion where issues are being brought out into the open is loud – introverts may close down.

Johari’s box is a great leadership development tool, it’s also a good tool to help introverts develop as part of a team development process. If you want to discuss developing your team, or help getting more from your introverts, call me on 0203 488 6739.

You may also like to read:

Or listen to: 

An interview with Helene Jewell of the International Association of Facilitators on how to improve your meetings.

Related content you may find useful:
joharis window | leadership | Team
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