September 14, 2022

Find the Blind Spots Holding You Back

I'm Melissa
I'm a Career and Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech. I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.
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On this episode of the podcast Melissa is sharing a powerful tool that will help you discover the blind spots that could be holding you back in your career.

By the end of this episode you will know what you can do today to know what your coworkers think of you that you don’t know and how to get a competitive advantage over all of your high performing colleagues.

What You’ll Learn

A simple and proven tool for discovering your blind spots

8 feedback questions to grow your career

How to get a competitive advantage at work

An exercise that promotes psychological safety in teams

Featured in This Episode

Get the visual of the Johari Window
Schedule a consultation for 1-1 coaching

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Welcome to Navigating Your Career, the only podcast that blends personal development, professional skills and psychology to help you get happy at work and live the life you want. If you want to stop feeling stuck and start are feeling better, this is the place for you. I’m your host, Melissa Lawrence. Let’s get started.

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the podcast. This week, we are going to talk about finding your blind spots and your areas for growth. This is a question that I’ve gotten a lot, especially when I was working in the industry. There is often some high level awareness that blind spots exist, especially with unconscious bias training getting more popular as the diversity, equity, inclusion goals really ramp up. But once you know that you have blind spots, how do you actually discover what they are so that you can grow as a person in your career? Because your blind spots are hidden. So if you have something that is holding you back, how can you change it or grow from it if you don’t know what it is? And that is really what we are going to talk about today. Having knowledge and awareness of your hidden areas, those things that you don’t even know that you need to develop in, is really going to give you the competitive edge that you need to take your career to the next level. So you might be looking at, how do I get to the next step? Or maybe you’ve gotten some feedback that’s really surprising that you are blindsided by and you’re not sure if you should listen to it or not.

And you just want to make sure that you know everything there is to know so that you can take control of your career and really get to the level that you want to be at. So if you’re looking for a tool that will help you understand your perception at work, how others see you and how you see others, your reputation, you’re going to love this tool that I’m going to talk about today. I want to introduce you to a tool called the Johari Window. Have you heard of this before? It’s a tool that I learned about in grad school. I have a master’s in organizational psychology, and it was developed by psychologist Joseph Luft in Harrington Angum, which is kind of a fun fact about this tool that johari. The name of the tool was actually named after them. So they took two parts of their name and combined them to get to the name of their tool. And I think that that is so fun. And when I was thinking about that as I was preparing this episode for you, I thought, well, this is definitely an opportunity for me to get more creative because the tools I create do not have my name in them.

I essentially just name them off of the result that they create. So I thought that that was really kind of entertaining. So, anyway, you can use this tool, the Jahari Window, to discover your hidden areas of growth. But it’s also a great communication tool to build trust with your team. So if you lead a team and you want to encourage sharing and vulnerability and even psychological safety, you can use it for that. If you have a team that you’re a part of that is maybe fractured or could work better together, have improved cohesion, you could use it for that as well. It really helps build awareness into our whole selves. And when used correctly, you can build trust and you can build a culture of feedback and sharing. So I’m going to describe this tool to you through this podcast, but it’s going to be even better if you can pull it up and visually see it. So I’m going to put a link in the comments so you can reference it either as you listen, or another time, print it out and use it. So what the Johari window is, is essentially a quadrant.

So I want you to picture four squares, two on top of each other. So there’s four total in a quadrant, and the four squares represent the different parts of you. The top left square represents the things that are known to you and known to others. So this might be that you are great with deadlines, or that you’re always willing to mentor your colleagues. These are the attributes about you that you show at work that you know about you, that other people see in you. It’s just who you are and everyone knows it. The top right quadrant, top right square, those are the things that are known to others but are not known to you. And these are your blind spots, or the things that you do and people see that you’re not aware of. This is the area that you want to focus on to find your blind spots, because these are the things that can hurt your career. But I want to be clear that your blind spots aren’t just bad or negative, they can be good things too. People can think you’re amazing at dealing with difficult clients, or that you handle conflict well, or that you put together presentations in a way that nobody else can, that really tell a story with the data, but you might not see that as anything special if it comes really natural to you.

So this is also a blind spot, but it’s a positive blind spot because it’s something that is blind to you with other people seeing you. But for the purpose of this episode, we’re going to focus on finding those areas that may be hurting you, that you want to overcome. And this could be feedback that surprises you. Maybe a colleague thinks you’re difficult to work with, but you think you’re always giving them your all and doing everything you can for this person because you have a stakeholder or colleague who sees you is difficult and you don’t see that this is a blind spot, I’m going to talk about what to do about that too. So the bottom left square, these are the things that are known to you but not known to others. So these are the things that you compartmentalize. So if you’re someone that thinks you have a work cell and a home self, or that you can’t really let people know the real you, the funny side of you, that you can’t show your sense of humor, that you can’t talk about your weekend, that you just want to keep things really separate.

So there are those things you know about yourself, but you don’t show them with other people. That is what this box represents. Or the things that you know about yourself but others don’t know about you, then the bottom right are the things that are not known to you or others. So these can be hidden due to trauma that you’ve experienced unexpressed potential. It’s a bit of a mindbender to think about, but it’s actually true that there are things that you don’t know about yourself yet and that other people haven’t seen about you yet. And so there are parts of your personality, parts of your being that exist, but they’re not known yet, they’re not expressed yet. So these four boxes are what comprise of the Jaari window tool, and we’re going to focus on the blind spots. So the things that are not known to you but other people see in you. And like I shared, these are things that can be positive, but they’re also development areas that you need to identify in order to get to the next step in your career. And this can include things like if you experience anxiety or fear, lack of competence, unworthiness lack of confidence, your temper, the faces you make when you hear something you don’t like in a meeting.

It can include fear of being found out, fear of missing something, of not being good enough. Other people can actually see this in you more clearly than you think. And I hear time and time again from my clients that when they’re struggling maybe to get to the next level and they’re feeling frustrated or they’re not happy with their boss, they say, Well, I control my action line. Like, I don’t let people know I’m upset with them. I have a good poker face, I do and say all the right things. I’m always professional. And that may be true, but when you are not enjoying working with someone, when you’re having negative thoughts about people, about your workplace, that energy is present. And people can feel that more than you think. They can pick up on that energy, even if you’re really great at controlling your emotions or controlling your behavior. So the blind spots or the blind areas that you may have are things that other people are seeing in you that you’re not realizing that they’re seeing in you. And the best and most simple way to discover your blind spots is to ask for feedback.

And you can do this through Performance Reviews 360 assessments. I use the Leadership Challenge 360 assessment with my leadership clients, but you can also just ask your leadership or colleagues for feedback. And so I’m going to share a couple of different ways to do this that I have found to be really effective with my clients. So the first is going to be a simple exercise that you can do that’s just really simple, down and dirty. You could do it right now, today, and that is to ask five people at work, including at least one that you don’t think you have a great relationship with. And I want you to ask these five people three things that they love about working with you and one thing they wish that you would do differently or that you could improve on. And this is going to give you good insight into both positive and more critical areas for growth. And it may not be fun to hear the critical feedback, but it’s better to know and grow from it than get passover for promotions or opportunities and not know why. Because oftentimes the things we discover in our johari window blind spots are not hugely negative.

It isn’t that you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s more around the way you get worked on. That energy that you have, your communication skills, people’s perception of you, and a reputation you may have that you might not be aware of, that might be based on misunderstandings. But those things are part of a conversation that your leadership may be having behind closed doors. It doesn’t even get documented on your performance review, but it’s something that’s holding you back. So it’s definitely important if you want to really take ownership of your career and have that competitive edge when you’re working among a ton of high performers and get yourself to the next level to discover these blind spots. And this tool is one way you can do that, it’s really going to help you. So the first option was to use that simple exercise. Now the second option is to do something a little bit more formal and structured. And so I’m going to provide you with some questions that you can ask either in an interview or you could like an interview as far as with the people you want to get feedback from, not a job interview.

And then also you could use a survey like Google Forms. So the questions that you can ask, these specific questions you can ask is what are five adjectives that you’d use to describe me? Where do you think I shine with my work? What are some areas I could improve on? Was there a time that we work together that you were disappointed or frustrated with me? If so, what was that circumstance what would you have liked to see be done differently? What do you see as my greatest strength? What do you see as my greatest opportunity for improvement? How would you describe me and what I do to a colleague and what is your favorite memory of me? I love that last question. So all of these questions will be really helpful to get feedback about the things that are going well and the things that you can improve on in those blind spots. And you can facilitate this, like I said, by asking people to complete questions anonymously. They could mail them to you, drop them in your work inbox, or send you through survey. You could complete a Google form survey or another survey and ask for transparency and a follow up conversation to get more context about their responses.

So if you do send like a survey or you do send a form and you want people to drop it off in your mailbox, then the way that I prefer to do that is really to make the name optional and then also to say if they do provide their name, would they be open to a follow up conversation? Like, do they just want to provide you answers to these questions or would they be open to having a conversation with you to provide some more context and flavor to their feedback? So the way that I prefer is to create a simple survey and then make that name field optional. Send an email invite ahead of time. Let your stakeholders know that you’re collecting feedback for your development, that you want to ask them to weigh in and why you chose them. And that in the spirit of growth in your relationship, you’d like to have a follow up conversation, but it’s not required and it’s optional to even provide any identifying information. This is going to help you build trust and improve relationships with the people you’re collecting feedback from. But it’s also going to help you get more honest feedback because there is an anonymous option for those that may have a blind spot that they want to share with you, but they’re not really comfortable saying to you directly.

So once you have your feedback, if you get feedback you don’t believe is true, or you’re questioning if it is true, it’s possible that it’s true to others and it actually is a blind spot of yours. And you can get additional feedback to validate it and to get some context around it, either from other people to say, hey, I’ve heard this feedback about myself. Have you ever experienced this with me? Or if that person that provided the feedback is willing to have a follow up conversation with you, then you can get some more context that way as well. But before just rejecting any negative feedback, I want you to remember that your brain is going to want to protect you from the negativity. It wants you to be right? And that person spent the time to give you that feedback. And I want you to believe that they didn’t do that to be a jerk. Like, they didn’t say, oh, this person is finally asking me what I think of them. I don’t like them. I’m just going to tell them a bunch of stuff that’s not true to hurt their feelings. I want you to just believe that that’s true and that what they’re providing to you is their valid experience, whether you agree with it or not.

And because you’re choosing to say, okay, I’m going to accept this feedback, it doesn’t mean that that’s your identity. If someone, let’s say you’re difficult, it doesn’t mean that you are. It means that that person had a difficult experience with you. And so it is advantageous to you in your career for you to take that feedback to say, okay, this is their experience with me, and to get curious about how could this be true and how can I approach this relationship differently so that this person has a positive association with working with me? Because the more people that enjoy working with you and see your value and recommend you as someone that’s great to work with, the further you’re going to go, especially in this industry that is very well connected. It’s important that your relationships are positive. So that is how you can use the Jahari Window as a tool to discover your blind spots for your growth. You can actually even print out the quadrants and fill them out. Put in the things that you think you make visible and the things that you think you keep hidden, and then when you get feedback, put that feedback in there.

What are the blind spots that you have, the areas that you keep hidden, just to touch on that for a second? That can also be an area for growth because the more that you share those hidden parts of yourself and you’re more authentic with your team, the better your relationships are going to be. And so you could practice being a little bit vulnerable with your team and see how that impacts the way that you feel about not only the people you work with, but how you feel when you’re at work, when you’re not having to hide so much about yourself. So speaking of teams, for those of you that want to take this tool deeper, you can actually use the Jahari Window in a team building activity to help build trust and psychological safety. So if you’re a manager listening, this is something to do with your team. If you’re not a manager, you can certainly bring this to your managers or suggest it at a team meeting in the future. I would just caution that you get permission ahead of time from the people that you’re going to facilitate this exercise with because it can be vulnerable and it is considered a more advanced team exercise that’s how I consider it.

So as a team, you can explain the Jahari window and you can actually draw out the four quadrants, one for each person of the team. So each person in the team would have a sheet of paper that would have before quadrant on it. And then you can ask members of the team to disclose the work related things if they keep hidden those personal antidotes and have other members of the team rotate through and also share things that they may keep hidden. So you’re allowing people to optimally disclose things that maybe they want to share to get to know each other a little bit better, right? And you can even do that through two truths and a lie if you really want to make it non threatening. Right? And then also you can rotate those pieces of paper to each member of the team and each member of the team can share about someone else on the team their experience with them. So the good, the bad, and then when each team member gets their piece of paper back, let’s say there’s five people on the team, they will have feedback from five people and they can look at that and say, well, what is surprising to me here?

What are my blind spots? And then you can facilitate a discussion. You can use some of the questions I provided earlier in this episode, or you can simply just ask them to disclose. Is there anything that was surprising to them? What did they learn about themselves and what was a positive thing that they learned about the team? And just have an open discussion. And this will build more trust because you’re being vulnerable and you’re also being open to feedback. As a team, you’ll also learn about each other and strengthen the team, as well as help individuals identify where they can be more efficient or more effective. So I hope you enjoyed learning about the Jahari window today. Like I said, I will put a link in the show notes. I just remember that when I learned this, it was so eye opening for me to really get a better idea of what it is like to bring your whole self to work. If that sounds like kind of, I don’t know, cliche or like foo foo, we bring your whole self to work, but you really do. It kind of creates a structured system for looking at the different parts of us and how we experience work and how other people experience us at work.

And we all have blind spots. And so I know this can be scary and you might be thinking, well, I already get good performance reviews. Why would I do this work? I think everything is going great. But again, this is just going to help you have that competitive advantage. It’s going to help you get to the next level. It’s going to help you be more authentic to yourself because that is my goal for you is that you excel at work. That you achieve all of your career goals more than you think is possible. That you blow your own brain with what you’re able to do. And that you do that by being more yourself than ever then you’ve ever been. That you feel more like you. You’re not falling into what you should do, what your parents think you should do, what your friends think you should do, what your coworkers are doing, what anyone else thinks, but really what you want for you. And this johari window is an amazing tool to help you do that. I know it’s going to open your eyes if you take the time to really use it, so let me know how it goes.

If you found this episode helpful, I would love if you give me a podcast review and share your takeaways with me. The day that this episode comes out is actually my birthday, and so it would be an amazing birthday gift for me to see some new podcast reviews come through. So if you feel so generous, take a moment and share your takeaways either from this episode or other episodes you’ve enjoyed. And if you listen to this and it blew your mind about the possibility of you having blind spots that could be holding you back and you want to discover them, I really encourage you to schedule a consultation for one on one coaching. Because what I do with my clients is career strategy and a bit of neuroscience and psychology. You get to know yourself really well. We find those thoughts and beliefs that are hidden or crippling your career. You process them, you let them go, and we build new beliefs about yourself that help you skyrocket your career, and you just get happier at home and at work. So when you combine that kind of mindset, work with career strategy and proven development tools, you really become unstoppable.

You really can create any career that you want, and you don’t have to play by the rules or what you think already exists or what is possible. You get to create your own path. All right, that is all for this week’s episode. Have an amazing week and I will talk to you soon.

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No longer settles for “good enough”

Hi, I’m Melissa.

Career & Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech

I'm a former Talent & Development leader in Pharma/Biotech turned CEO and Certified Professional Career & Life Coach. I also host the podcast, Your Worthy Career.

I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.

I'm leading a movement of women in the industry who are figuring out exactly what they want and shattering the glass ceiling. The very real ceiling in the industry, but also the one that we impose on ourselves. 

So long, imposter syndrome and overthinking. It's time to step into the impact and life you're worthy of having.

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