Previously I discussed blind spots and how the Johari Window trust model defines the four ‘panes’ we all have: the open self or arena, the hidden self or mask, blind spots, and potential.

Before we go into more detail about each pane, I’d like to bring in the DISC Personality System, because the two go hand in hand. DISC is recognised as ‘the universal language of behaviour’ and is a simple assessment tool that gives profound insight into human behaviour by identifying the intensity of four personality traits: dominance, influence, steadiness, and compliance.

The results can show a person’s predictable behaviours, style of communication, preferred environments, reactions to conflict, and more.


The four quadrants of personality

  • D = Dominance. The D personality style is direct, quick to make decisions, and likes to control situations.
  • I = Influence. The I personality style is outgoing, optimistic, and likes to be the centre of attention.
  • S = Steadiness. The S personality style is stable, reliable, consistent, and likes to be safe and secure.
  • C = Compliance. The C personality style is organised, detail-oriented, creative, and likes to be correct.

Now let’s go into the Johari Window trust model in detail.


The arena windowpane = where trust and awareness exist

Think of the times when you’re having a conversation with a person and there’s enough trust to discuss your differences, similarities, and thoughts. Think about how you feel when you are both heard and understood. This feeling is a good indication that you’re operating in the arena windowpane.

While it can be challenging, it offers growth and opportunity. It’s also a space for those feeling stuck in the other three panes to grow and learn by freely communicating, and building trust and self-awareness.


The blind spot windowpane = lack of awareness

Have you ever been in the middle of a discussion and attempted to offer feedback or insight into someone’s actions or behaviour, only for your observations to be met with confusion or denial? Know that when this happens, it’s revealing a blind spot in the other person, who may be lacking self-awareness.

Identifying your blind spot is an opportunity for you to gain critical insight into your actions and/or behaviour that may be hindering your ability to establish trust and effectively communicate with others.

Here are examples of typical blind spots across the four primary DISC personality styles and as you will see, they often impact on communication skills:

  • Dominant personalities can be perceived as lacking listening skills, argumentative, demanding, and abrupt. This can happen when this ‘D’ personality feels as though they are not in control or perceive that they’ve been taken advantage of.
  • Influential personalities are known for their lack of attention to detail and for being overly impulsive. This ‘I’ personality spends their time speaking. They may also talk so much that others can’t get a word in. This can happen when the ‘I’ personality does not feel that their voice is being heard by others, or they don’t feel accepted.
  • Steady personalities don’t like or accept change easily. They can be stubborn or passive-aggressive if they feel things are happening too quickly. The ‘S’ personality tends to procrastinate or do the bare minimum if pressured with too many tasks at once. They also tend to dwell on their mistakes instead of learning from them.
  • Compliant personalities can be sarcastic and overly critical of others and find it difficult to delegate tasks. The ‘C’ personality may be perceived as cold. In the workplace, they may micromanage and show poor communication skills. They may not trust employees to deliver work that’s up to standard.

Forbes’s expert panel has defined 15 other common communication problems and how to correct them.


The mask windowpane = lack of trust

Have you ever avoided answering when you’ve been asked why you responded poorly to a certain comment? And this happened because you didn’t feel safe enough or you were afraid to share your true thoughts? This would be your ‘mask’. Just like the blind spots you didn’t know you had, your mask can be a hurdle to establishing trust, building solid relationships, and entering the arena of trust and effective communication.

The DISC styles usually hide their dominant fears behind their masks:

  • ‘D’ personalities fear being taken advantage of and a loss of control.
  • ‘I’ personalities fear social or peer rejection.
  • ‘S’ personalities are afraid of change or loss of security.
  • ‘C’ personalities fear criticism or correction by others.


The potential windowpane = no trust and no awareness

Think about when you meet someone new for the first time. You greet one another, take a seat, and begin a conversation. This is the first step towards an opportunity to build trust by sharing your thoughts and ideas, giving honest feedback, and working your way through any masks or blind spots. By taking these steps, you’ll get into the arena where ‘you know, and I know’ and where you trust one another’s intentions. Some information may remain unknown until both parties intentionally bring it into the other person’s awareness. However, many people fear the arena and struggle to move beyond the potential state.


At various stages of your life journey, you could find yourself operating within any of the four trust model panes. Learning about and understanding others’ behavioural styles can help you master the panes.

Everyone has different priorities and goals, natural strengths, and challenges and there is no shortcut to achieving the balanced, prosperous, and contented life we all dream of leading.

DISC behavioural assessments and training in the science of human behaviours can help you improve your personal relationships, parenting skills, physical and emotional health, focus, and much more. In the workplace, understanding personality styles is key to unlocking your employees’ talents and abilities. It can also help you put together teams that will work well together and succeed together.


At TMReworked, I offer a wide variety of tools specifically designed to help you forge an individual path for personal growth. Use our personal growth solutions to:

  • Develop an understanding of yourself and others
  • Understand the priorities, motivators, and stressors tied to each behavioural style
  • Learn to modify your behaviour when necessary
  • Minimise conflict
  • Improve teamwork
  • Communicate more effectively
  • Learn, lead, sell, and serve more effectively
  • Recognise and appreciate behavioural diversity
  • Become a better friend, parent, and spouse

The experience of living through just over two years of Covid-19, may have left you feeling like you need a reset to move forward with your life. Working on self-awareness will give you a solid foundation.


*Teresa M Richardson is the founder of TM Reworked (PTY) Ltd.

I help business owners effect positive change in the behaviours, actions and attitudes of their workforce, allowing them to use their innate strengths to create a culture of trust, enhanced communication, increased productivity and profitability through behavioural profiling analysis and practical training methodologies.

TM Reworked. Enhancing Business Results Through People.

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