The Personality Typology of Jung and the Crucial Dialogue Model

Although the personality typology of Jung is ‘under discussion’ nowadays and the Myers-Brigs Type Indicator (Myers, 1962), that is based on it, is complete ridiculed by my friend Pedro De Bruycker (@theband): , I still had fun to see how Jung’s personality typology is linked to ‘my’ Crucial Dialogue Model. First of all, I’ve never been fond of the MBTI and somehow I lovedJung’s typology. Tthe little tweet conversation I had with Pedro yesterday was the trigger for this blog.

While struggling with organizational problems, managers – as I’ve witnessed whole my life – spend most of their time in gathering and assimilating information and making decisions on that information. So my Crucial Dialogue Model, since it is based on the mother or Meta process of learning, the Creative Interchange Process, is extremely helpful in this difficult and recurring task of all managers.

There are different ways in doing ‘problem solving’, depending on the manager’s personality traits and the nature of the problem itself. In my earlier blog of this month I’ve been talking about the link between Problem Solving and the Crucial Dialogue Model, where we have been concentrating on the different steps involved in managing complex problems. In this blog I’ll dig into the link between the personality typology of Jung and the Model. The personality typology of Jung has been used extent fully in explaining the effect of individual differences on organizational behavior. Specifically, Jung’s framework argues that people have different ways of taking in information and then taking decisions.

The taking in of information and understanding  of it is the left side of the Crucial Dialogue Model, the finding the possible solutions to the problem and the taking of decision the right part.


Indeed in order to understand appreciatively the information which is gathered, one has to gain insight and THINK and in order to solve the problem one has to find the solutions, make a choice and DO it. And don’t forget what Yoda (and my father some twenty years before) said: “No, don’t try! Do or do not, there is no try.”

According to Jung, there are two basic ways in which people take in information: intuition and sensation. Intuition refers to the preference for taking in information of the whole rather than the parts.  Intuition is based on possibilities, hunches, or future implications of a situation. It focusses on extrapolations and the unique relationships between the pieces of information, what cannot been seen or touched directly.  In contrast, sensation refers to the preference of taking in information directly by the five senses. Sensation focuses on the parts, the facts, the specifics of a situation, the hard data – what can be seen, touched, smelled, and so on. Thus sensation focusses on the parts themselves, while the focus of intuition goes beyond the parts. So according to Jung people develop a preference for one or either mode of taking in information. Of course people can theoretically apply either intuition or sensation when required; they may be unable to do each equally well. In fact, the information gathering mode that is not preferred regarded as a people’s weaker function or ‘blind side’. In my life I was learned, as an engineer, to look at the hard data, facts and figures, and I was more or less forced to make from the intuition mode my ‘weaker side’. Intuition was mostly disregarded. My first boss often said to me: “proof it!” If you can’t proof it, it doesn’t exist. Sometimes my intuition could be proofed by facts, sometimes not, and then I had to drop my intuition intake.

There are two basic ways in which people arrive at decisions thinking and feeling. Thinking refers to a very impersonal, logical, analytical preference for making a decision. If this and that is true, then such and such follow, based on logical analysis. Feeling, in contrast, is a very personal, subjective, unique way of making a decision. Does the person like the solution? Does it fit with her values and the image she has of herself? While the development of such a conclusion is not logic per se, it is not per definition illogical either. Feeling is alogical – simply based on a different style of reaching decisions. Just as they do with sensation and intuition people develop a preference for either thinking or feeling. Although they can apply either when required, they may be unsure of themselves when they rely on their blind side for decision making.

The Crucial Dialogue Model has two decision points. The first has to do whether we see the problem as ‘our problem’. In other words ‘do I accept the ownership of the problem?’ At this decision point, the thinking has been done to appreciatively understand the problem, we’ve SEEN it. The decision ‘will or won’t be do something about it’ is mostly done by feeling, and hopefully by using, what I’ve often done, the serenity prayer:


Or in Crucial Dialogue Model language:


At the second decision point the question “Which set of solutions, created by the third phase of the Crucial Dialogue Model, will be chosen?” will be answered.

The two personality characteristics associated with information taking and decision taking result in four personality types: intuition-feeling (IF), intuition-thinking (IT), sensation-thinking (ST) and sensation-feeling (SF). Each personality type is most suitable for a different step in problem solving.


The IF (intuition-Feeling) person enjoys ambiguous situations. Such people prefer looking in the future and all its possibilities and use very personal criteria for deciding what is important to consider. Such people thrive on dynamic complexity; they function best when there is a minimum of structure or whena problems and solutions are not defined yet. The IF persons are most confident with steps One, Three, Four and Seven of problem solving: Sensing problems, Appreciating data, Accepting the Problem and Evaluating Outcomes. Because of their preferences, however, they become uneasy when faced with the structured aspect of the process – their blind side.

The IT (Intuition-Thinking) persons enjoy looking at complex situations from different global perspectives. Such people are attracted to abstract discussions; get bored with well-structured and routine problems, and do not like details. NT persons, therefore, are most confident with Step Three of problem solving, appreciation of the problem. They like to investigate different problem definition, and to synthesize those into one. Because of their preference for thinking, they need the help of others who have indicated that there is an existing problem.

The ST (sensation-thinking) person enjoys the well-structured aspects of problem solving. Such people choose a certain solution on the basis of a logical, impersonal analysis. ST people seek single answers to most questions and prefer a black and white thinking: either right or wrong, using some quantitative tool (for instance a cost-benefit calculation). It is not surprising that ST persons are most confident with dealing with Step Five of problem solving: deriving solutions. They are less confident with dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty, with subjective criteria and personal feelings.

The SF (sensation-feeling) person enjoys interpersonal interactions. This activity satisfies their preference for the immediate experience as well as for being with people. SF people are concerned with the special needs and aspirations of all their colleagues in the organization. SF persons therefore are most confident with step six of problem solving, implementing solutions. Their personal sensitivity and warmth enable them to feel how any solution might affect the quality of life for the members of the organization.

These descriptions of personality types portray extremes. In fact, all types can function in all steps of the problem solving and we need all types to have success in problem solving. Knowing the four characteristics can help to see the problem and the solutions as a whole. One should strive to encorporate ‘both/and & diffferent from mindszt.










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