Some of us are external processors: we don’t know what we think until we hear ourselves say it. We are very good at generating new ideas, engaging others, adding energy to a conversation, and breaking the ice at parties.
We also can ramble, repeat ourselves, and generally drive our more logical, think-before-you-speak colleagues around the bend. As we are busy listening to what we’ve just said to see if it makes any sense at all, they are wondering how we can be that enthusiastic about this topic and why we can’t stop after our second re-explanation.
If you are one of the external processors clan, here are four tips to help:
- Ask permission. While there is nothing wrong or right about thinking out loud, your think-then-speak colleagues can be put off. Asking ahead of time for their okay to think out loud helps you put forth your best work and shows them that differences in style aren’t such a big deal.
- Let there be silence. “We were about to have a full millisecond of silence. Luckily, I was able to fill the void with a tangential comment.” We external processors can fall into the trap of needing to fill the gaps in conversations. Get comfortable with the power of those gaps to process insights and surface wisdom.
- Ask questions. Direct your creative mind toward framing relevant questions. Questions encourage others to participate. And they give you time to think before speaking next.
- Match. You can reduce the miscommunication, misunderstanding, and conflict you might have with others by temporarily acting as they do. Match their pace of speech, tone of speech, and body language for even a few seconds at the start of a conversation. They will appreciate it.
And, if you are one of the think-before-speaking clan, we sometimes misunderstand you and end up feeling rejected. Give us a smile every once in a while. Thank you.
In your corner,
PS: I repeat myself for emphasis. I repeat myself for emphasis.