What do people really think?

judytuna posted a link to a Johari window, this thing with which she can evaluate what her principle traits are (“happy”, “introverted”, etc.) and have friends do the same. The idea is that the traits can then be divided into four quadrants: (1) known to everyone (2) known to her friends but not to her (“blind spots”) (3) known to her but not her friends (“facades”) (4) ones not selected by anyone (“unknowns”).

I was really excited by this at first, as I had long been thinking about a similar tool for self-evaluation. Imagine you want to make yourself a better person. You have some imperfect view of yourself, your strengths and weaknesses. Maybe some aspects of the view are accurate, but undoubtedly not all of them are. In fact, you may not even be aware of what your greatest flaws are (especially if one of them is “lack of self-awareness” ;). So it may be hard to rectify them.

Of course, your friends have some other incomplete view of you, but one that’s arguably more important. Many of the traits with which you might describe yourself really only make sense in the context of how others perceive you. That is, maybe you think you’re nice, but if others don’t then functionally you’re not. So wouldn’t you like to find out how you’re actually perceived? I’m curious, at least…

However, there are two key problems with Johari windows:

  1. The traits are all positive or neutral. Negative traits would be the most helpful.
  2. The results are not anonymous. You can see how everyone else rated you, and they can see what you thought of yourself, as well as what each other thought. This obviously undermines the integrity of the test, especially if the traits are negative: people are much more likely to say the bad stuff anonymously.

So I’m thinking of making my own website that has an anonymous version of the test, perhaps with some modifications to allow for greater expressivity, with a broader range of traits. Would you take it?

[ I did some web research and found out that there are “Nohari windows” too, ones that have only negative traits. Still, we need anonymity. ]

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11 Responses to What do people really think?

  1. judytuna says:

    I agree–when I first saw the concept I went through the exact same throught process you did: “oh this is cool! … oh its usefulness is limited since it only includes ‘good’ things that you may be able to say about anyone, like horoscopes” but I just glossed over it as imperfect and filled it out anyway. What little information can be gleaned from it is still interesting to me, so in my mind it’s more a tool for a superficial “overview” glance of whatever my “personality” can be perceived as being. I guess if I really wanted to know what people thought of me I could call them up and ask them =)

    I think the label “facade” is very amusing, especially because almost all the words are positive ones. So it’s not for measuring what you are lacking as much as a way to see what traits you seem to value in yourself vs what other people seem to value.

    Yeah, I should take down my Johari window and put up a Nohari window, instead. And stipulate that people are only allowed to say their name is “banana.”

    • judytuna says:

      is verbosity in the nohari window?

      Not that the “ask your friends to fill out this questionnaire” is anything new–there were those AIM info quizzes, college applications asking for three words your friends would use to describe you–but I do appreciate the simplicity of the layout of the four quadrants. Being able to see what you think of yourself vs what others think is a key part of the exercise. So that is why I think it’s not a waste of time, even though I agree with you on its faults =)

      • Anonymous says:

        Re: is verbosity in the nohari window?

        Right. I do think that “calling my friends up” is still a bad way to find out your faults — as in your other entry, remmeber how embarrassed your friend was just to mention that you’re not cheerful all the time? The factthat we have to interact socially after the rating is a killer.

        I’m really thinking of making this website. It would have positive, negative, and neutral traits as well as a write-in section. Would you spread that one around, too? :)

    • aj says:

      But to be clear, you don’t want just a nohari window, either. Hearing good things about you might help clear up some insecurities, right?

  2. yayu says:

    that sounds totally interesting! I’d love to try your version :)

    and – how have you been????

    • Anonymous says:

      Well my version is finally up so give it a whirl!

      I’ve been…. good but super busy! A thousand projects and extracurricular activities = not a dull moment… but also not much time for hardcore introspection. So it’s good and bad. Of course, side projects like this one just add to the situation :).

      Anyway how are YOU?

  3. Anonymous says:


    Judging by your readership and their prior comments, I’ll probably be the lone vote of dissent on your blog.

    The exercise you list (knowing about what others think about you) requires that you have a decent amount of self-confidence. What if everyone hates what you think is best quality? e.g you thought you were funny and a core personality trait, but everyone thought your jokes sucked? The exercise is good only if

    a) You can change the “flaw”
    b) You want to change the “flaw”

    Otherwise you end up depressed with a shattered self-image. Maybe I’m too insecure, but that risk isn’t worth it…

    • aj says:

      Re: No

      Hrmm. So, for sure, the site is opt-in — you only do it if you want to learn this kind of stuff about yourself. So naturally if you’re disinclined, then you’re not going to do it.

      But let me offer an alternate viewpoint: you should either be self-confident OR humble to be evaluated. In the sense that you know you could be a better person and would like to know how, exactly. It’s almost like the opposite of self-confidence: you know you’re riddled with flaws, so why not make the biggest flaws concrete, rather than worrying about some random issues that may or may not be legit?

      Also, the test may put to rest other insecurities you have (since it has positive traits listed as well). For instance if you are worried about being boring and people frequently list “interesting”, that might help you out.