Cognitive Processes and Communication*

You Cannot Not Communicate

Everything we do or don't do communicates something.

Each of the cognitive processes is associated with different kinds of communication. Once you are aware of your own preferred processes, you can begin to notice how your preferences influence how and what you communicate.

You can also identify how these preferences may be a source of misunderstanding and conflict.

Communication and Relationships

Communication and problem solving occur in the context of relationships. When there is a problem, it is helpful to sort out the various ways people are different from each other, and to find ways they can connect.

Effective communication results when we are open to working through our diverse perspectives. Each cognitive process brings different premises to our conversations.

True dialog occurs when we can suspend hasty or dogmatic perception and judgment. In the ideal situation, we may hope to bridge our differences just by knowing about how others are different and therefore being more open. The reality is, this may not happen by itself.

We tend to reject the positive aspects of our less-preferred cognitive processes because our experience of them is so negative.

For example, Mary's leading role process is introverted Thinking. She experiences introverted Feeling most often in its negative aspect of the devilish role with a somewhat childish, "I want . . . ," rather than a more mature, "This is what is important."

When she began working with someone for whom introverted Feeling was a leading role process, she experienced him as dogmatic, unyielding, and off target rather than as someone who was tuned in to values that could help them prioritize their projects and better accomplish their goals.

It was only when she started recognizing her own projections and taking her own wants and values more seriously that she became open to her coworker's contributions.


Extraverted Sensing: Experiencing and noticing the physical world, scanning for visible reactions and relevant data

Being attracted to and/or distracted by changing external events. Adapting and changing your mind according to the situation. Focusing on facts. Asking lots of questions to get enough information to see the pattern. Going ahead and responding to raw data. Physical self-expression.


Introverted Sensing: Recalling past experiences, remembering detailed data and what it is linked to

Being heavily influenced by prior experiences. Distrusting new information that doesn't match. Assuming an understanding of a situation because it resembles a prior one. Focusing on facts and stored data. Giving lots of specific, sequential details about something. Rating and making comparison.


Extraverted iNtuiting: Inferring relationships, noticing threads of meaning, and scanning for what could be

Being attracted to new ideas and possible realities. Holding different and even conflicting ideas and values in mind at once without articulating them. Assuming a meaning of something. Focusing on inferences and hypotheses. Extemporaneously connecting ideas.


Introverted iNtuiting: Foreseeing implications, conceptualizing, and having images of the future or profound meaning

Being strongly influenced by a vision of what will be, which may involve an abstract, even vague understanding of complexities that are difficult to explain. Focusing on a preconceived outcome or goal. Perhaps not articulating or even aware of premises or assumptions behind envisioned implications. Describing implications and the final picture.




Extraverted Thinking: Organizing, segmenting, sorting, and applying logic and criteria

Expressing thoughts directly, readily critiquing and pointing out what has been left out or not done. Getting to the point efficiently and getting the task done. Taking decisive action, which may be misread as closed mindedness. Focusing on logic and criteria for setting up systems of organization.


Introverted Thinking: Analyzing, categorizing, and figuring out how something works

Defining principles, differences and distinctions. Pointing out inconsistencies and critiquing inaccuracies. Engaging in detached observation which can be misread as dislike or disapproval. Not expressing thoughts unless illogic and inaccuracy are overwhelming. Focusing on identifying, analyzing, naming, and categorizing.


Extraverted Feeling: Considering others and responding to them

Expressing positive and negative feelings openly. Disclosing personal details to establish rapport. Pointing out how to attend to needs of others and complaining when others are not considerate. Expressing of warmth, caring and concern and interest in others, which can be misread as suffocating or not attending to a task. Focusing on appropriateness and connectedness.


Introverted Feeling: Evaluating importance and maintaining congruence

Clarifying what is important. Pointing out contradictions and incongruities between actions and espoused values. Expressing quiet reserve, which is often misread as aloofness. Adamantly insisting on what is important, or what you want or like. Not expressing inner convictions unless important values are comprised.


Some Important Communication Principles:

  • Develop and trust your leading role and supporting role processes. This is how you were designed to operate.
  • Chances are, you will be naturally attracted to situations where those processes are appropriate and effective.
  • When you get stuck, find a way to engage your relief role process. It should provide a way out of being stuck.
  • For important decisions, consciously engage as many processes as you can. Find friends, family, or coworkers who can help you fill in the gaps and suggest aspects you might not have considered.
  • When you want to consciously engage an introverted process, you may need to set aside time to be alone.
  • When you want to consciously engage an extraverted process, seek out the company of others.
  • Be open to input from all sources.
  • Be patient with yourself and know that when you have to use a less-preferred process, it will take more energy.

*Adapted from Linda V. Berens, Dynamics of Personality Type: Understanding and Applying Jung's Cognitive Processes (Understanding yourself and others series) (Telos Publications, 2000) Used with permission.




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