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  • Writer's pictureNikki Trotter, MS, M.A., SHRM-CP, ACC

The Reality of Perception!

Our reality is someone else's perception, and someone else's perception is our reality! But which one is most important to you? Is it what you know to be the truth; or what others perceive as the truth? If we want to be honest with ourselves, we should always be concerned about our level of self-awareness and how we are showing up in the world. We should be worried about how the world sees us and how we are perceived by those we lead.

Understanding how we are moving in the world and having emotional intelligence (EI) is about demonstrating the capacity to have control of, express one's emotions; and handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. And our EI is the internal operating system that tells us we have either said or done the wrong thing in the wrong place and at the wrong time. When this alert goes off, we have the ability to manage our emotions and understand the importance of the moment.

However, when a part of our emotional operating system (self-awareness, social awareness, relationship management, and self-management) becomes dysfunctional, our blindspots are magnified and perceptions, not connections are created instead. Then when perception becomes a reality to others, we are unable to build trust, be effective, and most importantly, lead from a position of strength™.

The "good news" is that we have tools in our arsenal we can use to reboot our internal system of emotional intelligence and reverse those negative perceptions to become a better version of ourselves, for ourselves, and our teams. The most effective tool for this is the Johari window concept. The Johari window is a technique that was designed by two Psychologists in 1955; Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham. Their Johari concept posited that if we understand how others see us vs. how we see ourselves, we can work to close those gaps and ensure that our reality matches the perceptions of others.

Here is how the Johari Window technique can be applied to this.

The four quadrants of the window are:

  • “Open” (things known by self and others),

  • “Blind” (thing known by others but unknown by self),

  • “Hidden / Facade” (things known by self but unknown by others), and

  • “Unknown” (things not known by either self or others).

  1. Choose your peers: Identify people who you trust and who you think know you, or members of your team if you’re completing a team activity.

  2. Choose 5-10 words that you think best describe you.

  3. Get your feedback: Ask your peers to complete the same exercise, choosing 5-10 words they think best describe you.

  4. Plot your words: Place words both you and others selected in the “Open” pane. Place words that only you selected in the “Hidden” pane.

  5. Plot your feedback: Place words your peers selected but that you didn’t see in the “Blind” pane. Place the remaining words in the “unknown” pane. Alternatively, you can choose to leave the “Blind” pane empty.

  6. Review your Window: Review the words in the four pains of the window. How aligned is your view of who you are with how others see you? How open are you as a person?

I have used this tool in the past with my coaching clients and used it to change group dynamics and team development to improve inter-group relationships. Because this tool can harm you or your team if it's not applied correctly, I highly recommend it be used with the support or in partnership of a certified and professional coach and psychologist, especially if administered in a professional and organizational setting. Understanding who we are and how the world sees us gives us the information we need to become a better version of ourselves and a much better leader to others.

If you are interested in learning more about this psychological tool or if you'd like to administer this tool in a 1:1 coaching or a structured team setting, please feel free to contact me at; we can get the conversation started.

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Nikki Trotter is the Founder and CEO of IO, LLC., a transformational coaching company. I specialize in coaching professional women in leadership from the front line to the C-Suite. I help my clients master the art of resilient leadership to take control of their careers with courage, clarity, and confidence.

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