Talkers and Thinkers

by gloriam on March 16, 2018

Do you talk to think, or do you think to talk? People who talk to think are external processors, while people who think to talk are internal processors. I believe that the way we process information greatly affects our interaction with one another. Understanding this dynamic of internal processing and external processing can be beneficial in all of our relationships. It can aid in communication with our spouse, our children, our co-workers, and our friends. Conflict and misunderstanding can be avoided when internal and external processors are aware of the way in which they process life.

Internal processors take time to think through issues “in their head.” People who think to talk often need time to think about all the dynamics of a situation before they are ready to speak. They may need time alone to sort through issues. Internal processors want to think about all the issues, play out a scenario, or have all the information before speaking. Once the issue is worked out, internal processors may not need to discuss their process with another person. Discussing the process may feel redundant and unnecessary. It takes a conscious effort for internal processors to share their thoughts. The following list characterizes internal processors-people who think to talk:
• Need time alone
• Like to journal
• Get energy from within
• Get overwhelmed by always being with others
• Need time to think about how to articulate thoughts and feelings
• Listen well
• Need a safe environment to speak feelings and thoughts
• May or may not seek one other person’s input
• Thoughts and ideas will be solidified by the time they are verbally articulated
• May believe that every thought a person thinks does not need to be articulated

People who talk to think, or external processors, can easily assess a situation and know how to respond. External processors talk to many different people about their ideas and issues. The external processor is able to assimilate the information quickly and take it in or discard it. They are able to work out solutions as they talk. We often refer to people who talk to think as the kind of person that “thinks on their feet.” An external processor may also talk to many different people to get assistance in working through issues. The following list characterizes external processors-people who talk to think:
• Love to be with other people
• Easily carry on a conversation with others
• Get energy from external sources
• Are energized by talking and being with others
• Think on their feet
• Easily articulate thoughts and feelings
• Easily assimilate information
• Seek input from many different people
• May modify thoughts and ideas as they talk them over with others
• Often will say aloud the first thing that comes to mind

When internal processors are in a relationship with external processors problems can arise. Misunderstanding the way another person processes information often causes a judgmental stance and a sense of I’m right and you’re wrong. Accepting that there is NO right way or wrong way to deal with an issue leads to deeper and fuller understanding of one another. There are strengths in both ways of dealing with information and life issues.

The person who thinks to talk may have great difficulty understanding the needs of the person who talks to think and visa versa. The result may be that the external processor feels left out. It might feel that the other person will not talk or engage in conversation. Likewise, the internal processor may feel that he/she is not being listened too or that an answer is expected immediately. The external processor may be heard saying, “He/she won’t talk to me”. The internal processor may be heard saying, “He/she is always asking questions. When I do talk about my thoughts I am not heard.”

The dynamic of external and internal processing may not be absolute. It may fall on a continuum depending on the situation. Think for a moment about the way you process information, ideas, and issues. Where do you fall on the continuum of talkers and thinkers-internal and external processors? Do you talk to think, or do you think to talk? How does the way you deal with information affect your relationship with your spouse? What about your relationship with your children or friends or co-workers?

What about you? Are you a talker, a thinker, or a combination of both?

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