Many of the difficulties we face, with family, friends or colleagues at work are due to miscommunication in one form or another. Sometimes the miscues have deeper origins in ourselves that cause us to distort the meaning of what someone has said.
For example, if someone tells me at a party: "I don't like this French wine!" I may wonder what that might mean. Does he mean the wine he is drinking is not good, or is he really saying that that he is not enjoying the party, or maybe at the very heart of his message, he is criticizing my country?
We may often tend to project onto other people underlying aspects of ourselves.
"We naively suppose that people are as we imagine them to be . . .
All human relationships swarm with these projections" (CW8 par 507).
A projection is like a filter through which we interpret what the other person is saying. For example, at work, a man might project the image of a great authoritarian father figure on his boss. If he does, he may cast onto his boss attributes of the authoritarian father he knew as a child. Everything the boss says and does might be seen through this projected filter.
Knowing that what we are hearing is not necessarily what was intended, is a first step to better communication. Knowledge of psychological types can also enhance communication.
People with different type dispositions think, feel, act, and talk differently. For example, a person with an extraverted thinking disposition will tend to be concerned with rationally assessing facts. Someone oriented to extraverted feeling will tend to focus more on social relationships.
If a feeling-oriented wife comes home from work upset about her day, her thinking-oriented husband might start asking factual questions, trying to "fix the problem." Instead of feeling supported, she might resent him for giving her advice and complain that's he's just not really interested in her.
Sometimes another person's type disposition is our own shadow (inferior) type. "Shadow projections" can easily arise where a projected negative filter is cast on the other individual. We begin to feel or imagine all kinds of negative attributes that belong more to our own shadow types than the other person.
Being conscious of projections and type differences can enhance our communication, and therefor our relationships, with others. The best communication comes from open dialogue where filtering judgments are set aside to enable greater understanding of the other person. In that nonjudgmental dialogue, both people can discover openings to individuation.