Effective communication involves one person transmitting information and the other receiving it. The receiver has to make sense of the information for the message to be understood (Adams & Galanes, 2012). Personality and personal history play a part in how we interpret messages and communicate both verbally and nonverbally. Sometimes, we can cause an insult without intending to (Murphy-Shigematsu, 2010). To head off some of these problems, we need to be aware of ourselves and of the way others perceive us. I used the Johari Window and a Group Behavior Survey to assess how my self-perception compares to how others perceive me.
The Johari Window is a four-part chart that compares what we think about ourselves to what others think of us (Mindtools, 2012; Kevan, 2006). After I picked my adjectives on the Johari Window website set up by Kevan (2006), I recruited friends from social media to go complete the rest of the chart for me. Two-thirds of the adjectives I picked for myself were selected by someone else. As I looked at the list of adjectives others picked to describe me, I found that I understood why the responders chose those based on how we knew each other.
Four adjectives landed in Mindtools’ (2012) Open Area: helpful, introverted, knowledgeable, and religious.
Group Behavior Survey
The group behavior survey, on the other hand, was an aid in self-reflection with no outside input to compare to. Based on the scoring rubric at the bottom, I tend to focus much more on the task than I do on the social aspects of a group assignment.
Analysis and Conclusion
Of the terms in the Open Area of the Johari Window, one stood out as having a big impact on group work in general: introverted. My utter dread of group work stems from that one characteristic. I prefer to work alone because group work is exhausting. I can manage if I have to, and when I am teaching, I seem to settle into a different mindset that can temporarily handle being the focus of a group of people, but afterwards, I need my time to myself to rest.
Perhaps that explains why I focus on the task instead of socialization in group work. The task I can handle. It is far more comfortable than trying to make sense of the people, and as soon as the task is finished, I can be done with the group for the moment.
My current group should work differently, though. I have found that online critique groups and writer forums are not as exhausting as face-to-face groups. Although we are working in a group, the tension I usually feel with group work is not there. There are some risks involved in clarity of communication online because the entire realm of nonverbal conversation is missing, but with the written equivalent of active listening, some of those misunderstandings can be avoided (Adams & Galanes, 2012). This group already has some history together because we have been in many of the same classes. That familiarity can also help guard against misunderstanding because our experiences help us interpret messages.
If all goes well, I will finish my last Master’s course next summer and enter the workforce as an adult educator. Unless I somehow find a job where I work with one person at a time, I will end up in a group of people online or face to face. Being aware of the similarities and differences in how I describe myself and how others describe me can help me ensure that I take care of myself, which will allow me to be better at taking care of others.
A good understanding of myself through my own eyes and through the eyes of others will help me find my strengths and weaknesses. Then I will know what areas I need to work on to become a better instructor.
Adams, K., & Galanes, G. J. (2012). Communicating in groups: Applications and skills. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Kevan. (2006). Interactive Johari Window. Retrieved from http://kevan.org/johari
Mindtools. (2012). The Johari Window: Creating better understanding between individuals and groups. Retrieved from http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/JohariWindow.htm
Murphy-Shigematsu, S. (2010). Microaggressions by supervisors of color. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 4(1), 16–18.