Working Well: Workplace Wellness Initiative



Being a good listener is a rare thing. Many people struggle with how to listen effectively to get information and respond compassionately to and with other people.

In this session, we will explore:

  • the Johari window
  • effective and ineffective styles of listening
  • a listening meditation practice


Communication is a two-way street. Many people think it's just an easy and even give-and-take between two people but it's a bit more complicated than that, as I'm sure you've experienced yourself.

Communication gets confusing sometimes because people exchange in dialogue with many different filters, starting with the ways in which they know and view themselves compared to how others view them.

In the 1950s, two psychologists named Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham created a graphic to describe this process. They called it the Johari Window, a combination of their two names.


The BLUE square is what people know about themselves and is obvious to other people: for example, someone who has a great sense of humor and makes a career as a comedian.

The PEACH square is what people don't know about themselves but is obvious to others: for example, someone who dominates conversations but just thinks he/she knows more than everyone else in the room, meanwhile people feel silenced every time this person is present.

The GREEN square is what people know about themselves but is not obvious to others: for example, someone who is gay but does not tell coworkers.

The BROWN square is what people don't know about themselves and is not obvious to others: for example, someone is gay but unconsciously suppresses or dismisses his/her inclinations or thoughts and is married to a member of the opposite sex/gender so people assume the person is heterosexual.


Complete the boxes above on a piece of paper to see your window and learn more about yourself. 

NOTE: You will need to ask for help from someone to complete the PEACH square and you won't be able to fill in the BROWN square (since it's unknown to you and everyone else).


Before we learn more about listening and what traits make for a good or not-good listener, try listing some traits that YOU think fit into these categories. Consider relationships in your personal and professional life. 

Use this picture and create your own lists:

Questions to consider:

1) What criteria did you use to define GOOD vs NOT-GOOD listening? 

2) What experiences came to mind when you thought about this activity?


Listening can be a new skill for many people. We think we are listening, but sometimes we are not. 

Let's practice by listening to the meditation track below. It's a recording of the Tibetan Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron. You listened to this in an earlier module, but practice makes for better listening. :)


Questions to consider:

1) What did you notice during the listening meditation?

2) Was it difficult for you to listen?

3) What did you hear?