Character and Personality: Processing Information

Ever sit in a tense meeting where tempers are beginning to flare? Listening to the disagreeing parties, does it suddenly hit you they are violently agreeing!? How can that happen? What is going on? The same reality is being addressed so why all the commotion?

Everything else being equal, it might be a difference in temperament; i.e., the individuals gather and process information differently.

Temperament can also be called “wiring.” Wiring refers to both preferred and challenging, more difficult pathways in the brain. This can be seen in PET scans of the brain. Take two people who have different wiring and ask a simple question like, “How’s the project doing?” The scans will show different areas of the brain being active depending upon one’s wiring.

If a person has yet to mature, he will focus on his preferred pathways and be resistant to (afraid of) hearing anything that requires going to those weaker areas of the brain that are more challenging. Confusion between the conclusions and the path taken to get there occurs – and, voila! – violent agreement appears.

Let’s look at two aspects of neural wiring and information gathering/processing as viewed by Carl Jung. They are the irrational and the rational. Each has four modes of operation, giving a grand total of eight modes.

For each of us one mode predominates. We can do the other seven, but just prefer the one. Looking at how these modes operate can shed light on why people agree or disagree. Also, it can show how team members may bond or play “odd man out.”

The Irrational

The irrational refers to how we gather information. It’s called irrational because it is instinctual as in non-rational. There is no thinking involved. We just do it. Jung called the two main ways we gather information Intuitive and Sensing. In turn, each has two subdivisions called introverted and extraverted. This gives us:

Introverted Intuition – Ni. The Ni person is the “Aha!” individual seeing patterns and boiling them down to sharp insights. Details are secondary and there is a comfort with unclear situations.

Extraverted Intuition – Ne. The Ne loves to break new ground. Exploring just comes naturally to the extroverted Intuitive. There is a desire to exhaust all the possibilities and challenge the status quo.

Introverted Sensing – Si. The Si brings order and clarity to situations by linking the present with the past and working to develop precise pathways to the future. Detail and clarity are extremely important.

Extraverted Sensing – Se. The Se makes things happen – now! The Se has no room for nonsense. “Action” is the word of the day, every day. “This way has always worked” and “urgency” are two things they stress.

Do any of these look familiar yet- in yourself or people you know?

The Rational

Once we have the information we need to process information. This processing is what Jung called the “rational.” There are two main methods of processing information – Feeling and Thinking – with introverted and extraverted subcategories. They break down to:

Introverted Feeling – Fi. The Fi focuses on the importance of ideas especially those about which they feel strongly. The main drive for an Fi is priorities based on convictions.

Extraverted Feeling – Fe. The Fe loves to coach people and looks after their welfare. Building positive relationships is important.

Introverted Thinking – Ti. The Ti focuses on theory and loves to explain the how and why of things.

Extraverted Thinking – Te. The Te brings organization and structure to situations working like a conductor massaging roles and responsibilities until they are well defined and work is flowing.

Team Members and Stakeholders

Has a specific person popped into mind when reading the descriptions? If so – great! It signifies the process of empathizing with others. This is key for establishing leadership and forming teams. This material will take us on an interesting ride into the human psyche and figuring out how to get things done.

Remember: each of us has all eight functions. There is just a preferred one that dominates in us based on neural wiring. Thus, try to avoid labeling people and leave them space. Leaders nurture the process of growing into the remaining seven.

Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at

If you’d like to submit a Jungian-focused blog on working with different personality types, please contact Jennifer Rojas, our Blog Editor, at

Wherever I Go, There I Am (Part 1)


Aurelius Press is all about forging connection amongst people. This connection is based on “the story” – your story, our story, your client’s story. Thus, I’d like share a bit of my personal narrative here, which will help illuminate what ultimately brought me to Aurelius Press. While the details are unique to my specific experience, it is my hope that there are elements of my tale that many of you will find familiar to your own journey.

FIVE (5) years ago, I arrived in Israel with 3 suitcases, a lap top, a cat and the wrong husband.

I had, for the previous 5 years, been fighting a long, protracted and demoralizing immigration battle to bring my husband back to the United States. Not only was it a very challenging case, but the one official in charge of reading and deciding our case let it sit for two years before arbitrarily deciding he just didn’t want to read it. Which meant another legal action on my part – just to get the person to read and decide.

Of course (in retrospect), the decision was NO. Which ultimately led to a last ditch attempt to bring my husband and me together in the same place so we could finally begin our life as a married couple – 5 years after we were married. Israel allowed us to do that. So, after about a year of planning, I gave up a 10+ year job, my home, and my entire support network of loved ones.

I flooded even more financial (I’d already gone bankrupt) and emotional resources into making my marriage work, and arrived in a foreign land, knowing only the Hebrew I’d learned in grade school. With no work lined up. No people connections. But I was gonna make this work! I was going to show “them”! I’d already poured everything into this mission of getting my husband back, one way or another, one country or another. I was going to make it happen, against all odds.  I was going for broke. For love!

Turns out, once we had the opportunity to live together for more than 2 weeks at a time on vacation in a Central or South American country, it became very clear that we were not the right people for each other. Not only “not right” – but very, very WRONG. I’ll spare you the gory details, so let’s just say it involved a heady (and now right-there-glaringly-in-my face) mix of emotional abuse and manipulation, dishonesty, unbridgeable cultural gaps, disrespect and complete loss of self-esteem. Certainly, not love. Within 6 weeks of finally coming together on the same soil, we were done. DONE. After all that…

There followed many a plea from loved ones over Skype from 5,000 miles away to “Just get on the first plane and come home… Your job will take you back… You only went there because of him, so there’s no reason to stay…” You get the picture.  My immediate, superficial reaction was that I couldn’t go back because I was just too ashamed. Horrifically mortified. After all that time and effort, people expected a happy ending. People who were so supportive (even knowing we were wrong for each other), people who helped us financially… I couldn’t face them. I couldn’t bring myself to let them down with my epic failure.

And yet, there was something else (besides embarrassment) – something deeper – that made me stay to find out what would happen. I wasn’t sure what it was at the time, but now I get it. One of my friends and former colleagues, a wise man (and sometimes a wiseguy!), Gary Monti, lovingly and repeatedly asked me the question, “Who’s the one person who’s always present at every problem you have?”

And I ultimately had to accept the notion of an old quote that Gary likes to reference:

Wherever I go, there I am.

And thus began my “hero’s journey” – alone in a foreign country with no job, no car, not knowing enough of the language, no support system, savings dwindling, a broken marriage, trampled self-esteem, and racked with shame and disappointment.

Gotta start somewhere, right?

Stay tuned for what followed…

Do you have your own story about things falling apart and your plans going awry (and what you did after that)- personally or in business? If you’d like share your story on our blog because you think it could help others and build connection, please feel free to contact Jennifer (also our Blog Editor) at