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Understanding Us: Self-Awareness

Understanding Us · 4 min read

I was thinking if you thought it was a good idea, we could possibly try…” My colleague impersonated each person on our team at our annual retreat while we all tried to guess. 

It’s Bri! Bri!” The whole team unanimously guessed this was an impression of me. And they were right. 

While everyone yelled my name, excited they had guessed correctly, my mind went to another place as the room started spinning. Eyes darting around the room, trying to laugh along, I couldn’t believe I sounded so timid and unsure of myself to them. Did they see something I didn’t see? 

I lacked some self-awareness about my communication style. 

The Johari Window is a self-awareness tool created by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, taking the shape of a four-square grid. According to the tool, our actions, behaviors or characteristics can fall under these four categories:

  1. Open Area: known to others and known to self

  2. Blind Spot: known to others and not known to self

  3. Hidden Area: not known to others and known to self

  4. Unknown: not known to others and not known to self

According to this model, my timid, uncertain communication style was a blind spot for me. It was obvious to my colleagues, but unknown to me. This incident sparked a season of self-reflection and learning. After taking some personality tests like StrengthsFinder, Enneagram and Myers-Briggs, I learned it was my desire for harmony and a high value for collaboration that led me to qualify everything I said before I said it. I’m grateful for that shocking impression of me because it encouraged me to try to communicate more clearly and directly. I’m even more grateful for what that experience taught me about self-awareness. 

A wonderful thing about having a partner is we’re not alone on our journeys to greater self-awareness. A personality test is a helpful starting point, but often our partners can see things in us we may have never discovered on our own. Your partner is likely the closest person to you in your life. They see you interact with others in a variety of social settings, hear you share your joys and frustrations and live with you day in and day out. Being known this deeply can be unsettling, but a great opportunity for growth as you seek to know yourselves and each other better. 

Self-awareness helps us know what drives our actions or behaviors. It can help you understand why something upsets you or why you have certain expectations. Your words, actions and choices impact your partner. Greater self-awareness is a priceless gift you can offer each other as you become a more thoughtful person and bring your whole self to your relationship. 

In addition to personality tests, here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you grow in self-awareness:

  1. What are my greatest desires? How do I feel when they are not met, for whatever reason? Does this lead me to behave or act in a certain way?

  2. Is there something about my personality I’m embarrassed about or want to keep hidden from my partner? 

Then, ask your partner these questions to help you discover potential blind spots:

  1. How have you experienced me this week? Have I surprised you in any way? 

  2. How have you seen me grow this year? 

We are our own worst critics. Our partners can often see wonderful things in us we haven’t taken the time to appreciate or celebrate! The last question above should ignite a conversation of celebration as you encourage all the positive things you see in one another. 


A great way to understand​‘us’ now is by taking your relationship Pulse. Toucan Together’s Pulse quiz will give you a snapshot of where your relationships is right now across seven key areas. Get started in the Toucan Together app today and take your Pulse!

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