The New Johari Window #27: Quadrant Three: The Locus of Control
As I noted earlier in an earlier essay, it is rare that one is invited to the home of a person from a Chinese culture until a relationship is very mature. On the other hand, once one is invited to the home of someone from a Chinese culture, a profound openness is experienced—“My home is your home.” This is not the case in the typical American home. As a result of these cultural differences in type and level of social boundaries, Chinese immigrants or visitors may be quite disappointed to discover that being invited into an American home does not mean the establishment of a deep, committed relationship (as I discovered in my own life—and as I describe in an earlier essay). Similarly, disclosure by an American does not signal the establishment of a long-term, intimate relationship.
If disclosure by an American does not signal commitment to a long-term relationship, then why do Americans have a reputation for being open and gracious? I propose that this impression comes from the distinctly American skill of creating a “false self”—the Quad One persona I described in an earlier essay. Americans learn how to “fake” openness and disclosure.
We learn how to talk about something other than the weather, yet never really get far beyond the weather. We talk about our children, yet rarely say much about our own hopes and fears regarding these members of our family. We share information about our job and the struggles we are having with our boss or co-worker, yet don’t disclose much about our underlying fears (or hopes) about the role we might be playing in worsening these struggles.
As the recipient of this disclosure, we listen attentively and seek to be receptive and understanding—yet often feel bored or even irritated that our time is being wasted. These feelings, in turn, are often accompanied by a pervasive sense of guilt, given that we should care—and care deeply—about everything that this other person is disclosing to us. Perhaps, we are bored or irritated because this disclosure is actually trivial, often well-rehearsed and repeated many times over with many people. True and genuine disclosures often involve the sharing of perceptions and feelings about one another at this moment, rather than about third party interactions that occurred in some other place and at some other time.