How to minimize your blind spots

Let’s be honest: answering questions about yourself, using the very thoughts that you like to examine, is an impossible trick to pull. Learn how to minimize your blind spots.

Wijnand de Jong (43)

Wijnand is an Amsterdam based social psychologist. He’s a lecturer in applied psychology, an inspired career counselor and an experienced trainer in developing social skills.

Dear Wijnand,

As an entrepreneur I have freelancers working for me from time to time. When I give them feedback about the work they did for me, I often notice that they become kind of petulant, rigid and defensive. Frankly, first: I blamed them a lot for that. But recently I realized that many different people react that way when I give them feedback. What can I do different?

Dear Emma,

Now, that’s a brave question. Not all women entrepreneurs wonder what really happens in social encounters and take responsibility for that. But, let’s be honest: answering questions about yourself, using the very thoughts that you like to examine, is an impossible trick to pull. Einstein already said: ‘We can’t solve issues using the same kind of thinking we used when we created these issues.’

So, for your personal development you need others for help.

My advice to you is: try the Johari Window. A very insightful tool to learn about yourself and your way of dealing with people. Johari might sound Japanese to you, but the name is an acronym of the inventors: psychologists Johannes Luft and Harry Ingram.

The bottom line is this: you can use two forces and then experiment to solve your social issue.


The first force is: feedback. Ask others – preferably right on the spot when you gave them the feedback that shut them down – what happened. Share your observations and be curious ‘I noticed that you became silent when I gave you feedback. What happened?’


Then you use the second force: self-disclosure. You tell what influences your feedback behavior. ‘When I make the step of giving you feedback, I often experience time pressure and I feel things need to be perfect.’


The final step, after using the two forces is: experiment. Figure out new ways of giving feedback, that you both feel secure about and try. Like social entrepreneur Jill Ferguson did, experimenting with servant leadership.

You enhance your self-knowledge, people will work harder for you and you’ll achieve more.
It’s like a social recipe. Follow it, add a bit of your own style and enjoy the result with others.

Good luck.

Next steps

Check our infographic for a visual of the Johari window.

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