What are the stories and situations in your life you don’t lead with in a conversation? We all have parts of our life we choose to keep hidden. Those hidden things can be idiosyncrasies or a major faux pas we want to keep covered.
Keeping information that you know hidden takes emotional and mental energy. If the information is something that would help others or help you become more productive, it is wise to share it with those who can benefit; your family, your coworkers or your friend going through a rough time you’ve faced in the past.
As we stated early in our exploration of the JoHari Window, our best contribution is made when our Open area is larger than the Blind, Hidden and Unknown areas. Therefore, the goal is to have the largest possible Open area. We increase this area by decreasing our Blind and Hidden areas. We explored decreasing the Blind Area here.
In the JoHari Window, the Hidden Area consists of information we know about our self, but it is unknown by others. To increase the Open Area from this perspective, you share information about your Hidden Area through self-disclosure.
Creating an Atmosphere of Trust and Safety
This will happen most naturally in an atmosphere of trust and safety. The culture of your organization has a huge influence on team members’ willingness to share their hidden self. Openness and vulnerability on your part, as the leader, models the openness for the team. Self-disclosure requires a level of vulnerability, sharing those things that others don’t know about you. These things could be small and even seem silly or loom large in your mind.
As a leader, you set the tone for safety and trust in your company, your team, your group, your family. Your willingness to be vulnerable, sharing about yourself at the level where you feel comfortable, provides an example of openness that encourages others to decrease their Hidden Area and bring their best to your team. It’s important to develop an understanding that disclosure is always at the discretion of the individual team member. No one should be pressured to share things they don’t feel safe or willing to share.
It’s amazing what a team and the individuals within the team can accomplish when they establish safety and trust within the group. Through trusting relationships:
- Hidden skills come to the fore.
- Individuals are willing to try new things because they know their team has their back.
- Failure is not an end, but an opening to learn and develop something new and better.
Developing a culture of safety and trust, where all members of your team feel supported and validated in their role helps individual’s hidden areas to decrease, opening up new areas of contribution and growth for your team and the organization.
Where can you decrease your own hidden area, building trust and openness in your team by practicing vulnerability?