In Mark's Jan 5th post, from The Bagman and Butler Chronicles. he talked about the seeming norm of only giving and receiving pleasant, encouraging comments in the blogosphere. He and others mentionned how they occasionally craved some constructive criticism or feedback.
Others commented that they prefer things remain as they are, because they receive enough criticism in every day life. This discussion brought to mind the psychological model known as the 'johari window" also known as the "Feedback/Self-Disclosure Matrix".
The concept is that we all have basically 4 quadrants of self at play all the time in every relationship and three of these quadrants change according to who we are relating with and how we are relating. There is much to learn from this model, but we'll stick to the basics here in applying it to our relating as bloggers.
As bloggers there are areas of the self that we choose to open to our followers. There are other areas about our self that we choose to keep hidden. As we post, there are things about ourselves that we are blind to, that can become evident to our readers. (You may be itching right now to tell me something you have noticed that I am persistently blind to!)
You may have noticed that those who keep much hidden, may not have as many followers as those who have revealed more about themselves, or brought more of them self out into the open on their blog. You may also have noticed that you have learned things about yourself through blogging that you might previously have been blind to.
The crux of the johari window is about these fluctuating windows of our personality - about how to open them or close them and how to develop more meaningful and enduring relationships. There is no one way to be. Some of us desire more privacy and have every right to keep as much hidden as we choose. Others are naturally more open and less private. You may have encountered some blogs where more is revealed (brought into the open) than you ever wanted to know (TMI).
The reason or the motivating factors that bring you to blogging will determine the size of your open, hidden and blind quadrants. And these quadrants will vary in size in your relationships with different bloggers and will probably mirror the way you relate in the 'real' world. The four quadrants are an invented representation of you as you navigate a relationship. Here is an image (the quadrants and how they can change) of the johari window:
This model of interpersonal relating was developed by Ingham and Luft. Interestingly, Luft and Ingham called their Johari Window model 'Johari' after combining their first names, Joe and Harry. In early publications the word actually appears as 'JoHari'.
The Johari Window soon became a widely used model for understanding and training self-awareness, personal development, improving communications, interpersonal relationships, group dynamics, team development and inter-group relationships.
The Johari Window model is also referred to as a 'disclosure/feedback model of self awareness' . . . The Johari Window actually represents information - feelings, experience, views, attitudes, skills, intentions, motivation, etc - within or about a person - in relation to their group, from four perspectives, which are described below.
Since we are continually learning more about ourselves and revealing or hiding information about ourselves to others, these areas/quadrants are different in every relationship. For example, with one person, our hidden area may be very small - there is a lot known by both about you.
With another person, with whom you are just getting acquainted, your hidden area may be very large as there is still much you have chosen not to disclose. No two people are the same, nor should we expect anyone else to match our degree of openness or self-awareness.
The Johari Window's four regions of relating are as follows, showing the quadrant numbers and commonly used names:
johari window four regions
1. KNOWN BY SELF AND KNOWN BY OTHERS - what is known by the person about him/herself and is also known by others - open area, public self, open self, free area, free self, or 'the arena'. Our open area is different with every relationship, because we have revealed or disclosed different things to different people or groups. In blogging, the main interests and topics of your blog, are in the open area - known by you and known by your readers.
2. UNKNOWN BY SELF BUT KNOWN BY OTHERS - what is unknown by the person about him/herself but which others know - blind area, blind self, or 'blindspot'. This area, to which we ourselves are blind, (for example, I may be blind to the fact that I continually interrupt when others are talking) is opened by appropriate FEEDBACK. While it can sometimes be hard to receive feedback about how we relate or how we affect others, it is key to growth. We can develop only once we become aware of things we have been blind to about ourselves.
We also need to learn how to appropriately give feedback to others so as to help the relationship, help them grow, and not wound them or the relationship. (The basic guideline for constructive feedback is to speak about the behaviour, not the person. For example: "When you interrupt me in mid-sentence, I feel pushed away and hurt, Bonnie." Avoid 'you statements' such as: "You are a self-centered b---- who never lets anyone else get a word in edgewise, Bonnie". The feedback statement model is "When you....(name behaviour)............I feel........(name your feeling).........".
Put downs and name calling will only put up a fence between you.) In blogging, perhaps we could be blind to the fact that we always blog about the same thing, or that our blog has an angry tone. We all have blind spots and it helps not to be too defensive when they are pointed out to us with feedback. We can also ask for feedback, from someone we trust, about our blindspots.
3. KNOWN BY SELF BUT UNKNOWN BY OTHERS - what the person knows about him/herself that others do not know - hidden area, hidden self, avoided area, avoided self or 'facade'. Parts of this hidden area can be moved into the Open Area (quadrant 1) by appropriate SELF-DISCLOSURE.
You do not, of course, have to or want to disclose all of the hidden parts of yourself, but if you want to connect, have relationships, deepen relationships you must reduce the size of your 'hidden quadrant' and bring more information into the open quadrant. This is done by sharing and disclosing information about yourself that the other person does not yet know.
Self-disclosure is key to developing intimate (open) relationships.
All bloggers are continually working out how much to post from the hidden area and bring into the open area of their blog. There is no right 'size' for this hidden area. You are in charge and there may be big areas of your life and experience that you will never bring into the open area of your blog.
If you decide you want to deepen relationships here (as much as they can be in this medium) it will require some self-disclosure. Self-disclosure signals that we are moving a step closer. When you disclose, it often moves others to disclose as well. Disclosure should be appropriate - wanton divulgence can be off-putting in blogging as in any relationship.
4. UNKNOWN BY SELF AND UNKNOWN BY OTHERS - what is unknown by the person about him/herself and is also unknown by others - unknown area or unknown self. This is basically the area of the unconscious - unknown by you and unknown by others - and is best dealt with alone or in therapy, if at all. This does not factor into facilitating better interpersonal relating in this johari model.
So in a desire to be self-disclosing and not simply share dry information I'd like to bring into the open area what I am aware of about my 'johari window' way of relating with my blog. When I created the blog, it was in conjunction with my Etsy site and intended, at that time, to be a vehicle to share my artwork and photography. I immediately saw that I could share some psychological concepts that I hoped might be helpful as well. It was a rather impersonal, professorial approach (I do have a masters degree in education) and an approach I still struggle with here.
I soon discovered that the blog could serve as a vehicle for sharing my values, principles, learnings, etc. with my children and grandchildren - so a lot of my choices in posts are to share with my progeny what matters to me, in hopes that one day some small portion of it might prove useful for them.
As I visited other blogs, I discovered other bloggers were revealing much more about their personal lives and daily experiences than I, and I knew that I had inadvertently trapped myself into keeping a lot hidden because without a lot of foresight, I had revealed my name in my Etsy shop and here on my blog.
If I were to do it again, I would try to keep my identity private - although when selling artwork I'm not sure it is entirely possible. At the very least it would have taken a lot of thought and a lot of planning - which I did not do before creating the blog.
Being open about my identity means my therapy clients can find the blog and read any personal revelations. Psychotherapists generally reveal little about themselves while working with their patients so as not to become a distraction and to provide a blank slate on which the client can project some of their issues. Then the work can proceed in the 'here and now' using this dynamic as grist for the therapy mill.
Voila my struggle. I have the impulse to reveal more of myself, my missteps, my struggles, my life experiences - but at the same time feel I must be cautious and not reveal anything about myself that could upset or distract a client.
So dear blogging friends, I keep more to myself (in my hidden quadrant) than I would prefer....but I do so consciously and for a reason. I also realize that this limits the amount of intimacy (mutual openness) that can result.
I have received valuable feedback while blogging when I (twice) left comments that were probably too open, too honest, too fast and I offended bloggers who I greatly admired. Their open and honest feedback to me was respectful and to the point - and revealed a blind spot to myself about being too impulsive and forthright in my commenting and that it was not appropriate and indeed had been hurtful.
So where I was blind to my bluntness (and my grammar!), I now am less blind and have been made aware of those behaviours, apologized, mended fences and have hopefully learned to comment more carefully.
This has turned into an overly long post. But I hope the self-disclosure/feedback matrix might prove helpful to you in your blogging life and in your private relationships. Understanding what we are doing and how we might be more skillful at it can never hurt.