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.
Sensing: Experiencing and
noticing the physical world, scanning
for visible reactions and relevant
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.
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.
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.
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
Thinking: Organizing, segmenting,
sorting, and applying logic and
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.
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.
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
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.