The New Johari Window #27: Quadrant Three: The Locus of Control

The New Johari Window #27: Quadrant Three: The Locus of Control

On the other hand, a system may have low barriers. Its boundaries are highly permeable. Things can easily move in and out of a low bounded system. It is known as an “open system.” System theories suggest that low boundaries lead to a lack of system integrity. The system readily falls apart. As W. H. Auden suggests, the center can not hold. There are open-system people. They are often inappropriate in their levels of disclosure. They dump personal information on everyone. They are the men and women on airplanes that tell you their entire life story and don’t stop even when you pretend to fall asleep or put on the headphones. They are “warm-hearted” but scattered and insensitive to other people’s needs for privacy.

Systems theorists would suggest in our postmodern world that we must have a strong self of self. However, it is hard to have clear sense of self in our postmodern world, given Gergen’s description of the saturated self. We must therefore make a choice. We must either create high boundaries (and risk becoming inflexible, cold and aloof) or create low and more flexible boundaries (and risk losing our sense of self and our integrity). Ultimately, in our postmodern world, with the demand for flexible boundaries only the second option is viable. We must therefore continually identify very clear intentions and a clear sense of self.

We must be clear about our intentions, and must be selective in our disclosure and, more generally, in our engagement with other people. If we have low boundaries—if we are inclined to disclose everything to everyone—then we are likely to lose any coherent sense of self in a postmodern world. When we lose this sense of self, then we have also abandoned an internal locus of control, and come under the control of external forces. We become fragmented and expedient people who can’t be trusted in any important human interaction.

Q3-E: The Obtuse Self

Just as there are several reasons why we choose to control our disclosure to other people, there are also several reasons why we choose to give up this control and allow the world around us to dictate the level of disclosure and the type of material from Quad Three that we share with other people. As in the case of the internal locus, some of these reasons make perfect sense in a postmodern world that requires us to adapt to changing social contexts and shifting social norms; however, some of the reasons for embracing an external locus of control with regard to disclosure are less justifiable.


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About the Author

William Bergquist

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant, professor in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 45 books, and president of a graduate school of psychology. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations. His graduate school (The Professional School of Psychology: offers Master and Doctoral degrees in both clinical and organizational psychology to mature, accomplished adults.

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