What is the most precarious place to be during a job interview? When your potential employer recognizes something true about you that you don't even realize. The problem is two fold: You could be making it clear that you aren't a good fit for the opportunity without knowing it and, if the interviewee doesn't mention it, you could easily keep doing the same error, habit or misjudgment.
A simple idea can help you better understand yourself in a job interview, not to mention in your personal relationships and your interactions with the world at large. It's called the Johari window.
The four types of knowledge available about you
Created by psychologists Harrington Ingham and Joseph Luft, the Johari window (a combination of their first names) is set up like a window pane with four quadrants.
- The upper-left hand quadrant: Things you know about you and other people know about you. This is what you're known for.
- The upper-right hand quadrant: Things other people know about you, but you don't know about yourself. This is what you aren't aware of.
- The lower-left hand quadrant: Things you know about yourself, but others don't know about you. This is what you keep secret or private.
- The lower-right hand quadrant: Things neither you nor other people know about you. This is what no one knows.
The upper-right hand quadrant is the most challenging one! As fellow Inc. columnist Peter Kozodoy put it, "The blind spot is the most prohibitive quadrant of all. Characteristics that live in this quadrant may prevent you from success, because they aren't in alignment with the truth."
The last thing you want is for your businesses or relationships to go south because you aren't aware of how you treat others, what your real priorities are or where people see you stand.
How to expand your knowledge pane
Luckily, the Johari window isn't static: You can gain more knowledge of self many different ways, including learning from others about your blind spots.
Build a brain trust: Create a network of people that will be kind and honest about your issues. As I describe in a previous column, "[A brain trust is] a diverse, collective sounding board for your next entrepreneurial moves. And every entrepreneur should have one."
Listen to yourself: When someone is on video or audio for the first time, they almost always say 'I didn't know my voice was like that!' or 'Wow, why did I come across that way?'. We often cannot see how we really are until it is documented. I'm lucky, as I can go back to a talk I did years ago or a book I wrote decades ago and get a snapshot. You can do the same by writing down your thoughts in a journal, recording a conversation you have with a friend or otherwise capturing who you are at this moment. It provides future documentation and will help you understand yourself more later.
Turn off distractions: We have grown uncomfortable with silence, particularly because of the constant buzz, stimulation and information being hurled. The problem is that silence is the only way we can be alone with our thoughts - and, frankly, we don't know what may come up. These distractions, though, don't eliminate our thoughts, but rather repress them until they come out in different ways, often in our interactions with others. A meditation, a walk or even a quiet evening can help bring our deeper thoughts to the surface.
It's worth the effort to have clarity of purpose. As I once said, "The most dangerous position to be in is to believe you have one intention, but to really be pursuing another."