How can we understand each other? Are we speaking the same language?

Taking the Myers Briggs personality test based on Carl Jung’s personality types can help with self understanding, as well as learning the differences in communication styles that seem to leave us frustrated and feeling misunderstood.

One aspect of the personality types is how we process information: Introverted thinking and Extroverted thinking styles.

Introverted thinkers need time to process information. They go deep and into pathways that are often unexplored by their Extroverted thinking associates. They are energized by this time spent processing information.

Extroverted thinkers enjoy thinking out loud and having someone with whom to ‘banter’ – they seem more energetic, because they ARE energized by this style of communication.

When ITs and ETs are in a relationship (any kind of relationship – work, friend, partner, parent/child) challenges and frustrations can occur without knowledge of who we are and who they are. I say WHO because the ‘communication style’ is our NATURE, not something we choose. So first, “Know thyself” by taking the test. Second, ask your significant other to take the test to learn their style.

SUGGESTED EXERCISE for Communicating with an Opposite: Plan a time – for example- 15 minutes to talk, then 15 minutes time out, then 15 minutes check in, with a repeat if necessary. Pick a topic, the ET usually will start the talking. The IT will ask for “a few minutes” (to process when needed.) This needs to be acceptable to BOTH parties. After processing, the IT initiates the conversation by saying what they heard/thought. The ET listens without interruption, and when the IT completes, makes any necessary corrections or asks questions to clarify. Repeat as needed.

THE GOAL: to exercise alternate ways of communicating, to resolve feelings of frustration, and feeling misunderstood by someone important to you. The best way to continue the discussion is by asking open ended questions that require more than a yes/no answer. For example, “what do you think …” / “how do you think that will …” /

THE CHALLENGES: For the IT – (Introverted THINKER) 1. To ask for the time to process 2. To respect that the ET needs to continue the conversation, and to make the processing time minimal and acceptable to both. 3. To be the one to return and invite the ET back to the talk. For the ET – (Extroverted THINKER) 1. To accept that the processing time for the IT is necessary to their style, and is not a reflection of how they feel about you. 2. To listen without assuming, and to respectfully ask for clarification. 3. To find ways to ‘invite’ the partner into the conversation – without limits.

THE BENEFITS: We learn from our opposites- we learn to think more deeply and to communicate meaningfully. We learn the value of relationship through communicating.


Call for an appointment if you would like help learning or practicing these skills or if you would like to explore the other aspects of personality that affect how we ‘see’ or ‘be’ in the world.

Patricia Cavanagh, LPC text or call 928-301-3761