The New Johari Window #7: Complexity and the Postmodern Condition

The New Johari Window #7: Complexity and the Postmodern Condition

What about Quad Three (The Protected Self)? The complex, overwhelming and saturating world in which we live includes a rich, but challenging interpersonal heterogeneity. We are never sure what and how much to disclose to other people, given that they do not necessarily share with us a common heritage, value-system or even language. Our third quadrant is understandable protected in a postmodern world, for we need to be careful about what we disclose to other people, given that our disclosure could be inappropriate, misunderstood or counterproductive. Compounding this challenge is the prospect of selecting from among a richly diverse body of information residing in our third quadrant. If our first quadrant is saturated, then there is no reason to believe that our third quadrant is any less saturated. It’s not just a matter of telling other people about our life—it’s a matter of deciding which of our many “lives” to describe. Which story do we tell—not do we or do we not tell our story.

So what do we do? We can diminish the size and scope of quadrant three—moving toward Lasch’s minimal self. We can spend many hours deliberating about what is our “authentic” self. Lasch’s social-critical (and Continental school) colleague, Richard Sennett suggests that we have become very careful about what we share with other people. We save our “real” self for private settings (when we are at home), while we offer a mask or persona (personality) in “public.”  Putting these two analyses together, we would seem to be caught in a dilemma. We are encouraged to be more open and share our private self in public setting; yet, we must deliberate about what is our true “private” self versus what is our false “public” self. This deliberation, in turn, leads to caution and to reticence about sharing any aspect of self in public.

We fail to realize that many selves are “authentic” in certain times and places and in relationship to certain people. We can share many aspects of our “private” self in public settings—we have only to choose which aspects are appropriate in which settings. This is the selective self that seems to be associated with maturity in our society. These are important choices to make—and the movement from Quad Three to Quad One is particularly important and difficult in a postmodern world. By reducing the disclosure of third quadrant content, in search of authenticity, we may be diminishing not just our sense of self, but also the quality of relationships that we have with other people (disclosure being an important aspect of this quality). Eventually, Quad Three content will tend to dry up (or move to Quad Four) if it is not shared. Thus, when we are stingy about Quad Three and obsessed with always presenting some sort of carefully coifed and “authentic” Quad Three, we risk the lose of the richly diverse material located in this quadrant.

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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: www.psychology.edu) offers Master and Doctoral degrees in both clinical and organizational psychology to mature, accomplished adults.

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