Why is it that some people can talk and talk and talk, and others can sit silent for hours. Is it easier to coach the talkers or the silents? They both have their challenges.
Internal thinkers process almost everything inside their own head. They have their own private conversation and work out all the details before they speak. External thinkers talk through their thinking. They process as they hear themselves say it.
A coach must know whether a client processes internally or externally.
- They are careful with every word they say.
- They may need to have their thinking expanded. Because they don’t easily interact with others about their thinking, their thinking may be a bit more narrow.
- They don’t like to speak until they’ve thought through the issue completely. When they finally speak the decision, it may seem like a simple statement, but the act of speaking it aloud is very powerful for them.
- It is easy to over talk an internal thinker. They won’t mind if you talk during the entire session, but they need to come to their own conclusion. Give them time to be silent and process.
- An internal thinker will come to a conclusion and make a statement that might seem fairly obvious. It may appear that they have simply stated a basic fact, but often, it is the first time they’ve articulated the words so exactly. It is important for them to make statements out loud.
- I recently had an internal thinker processing, but to get him to say the words out loud seemed to be the most painful thing I could make him do. But once he said them, he knew that the obstacles before him would no longer stand in his way.
- They say whatever they are thinking and may not even agree with every word they say.
- External thinkers have shared their thoughts with anyone who will listen. They may have too broad a scope to their thinking. A coach helps them focus their thinking.
- External processors could talk through the entire coaching session and rabbit trail from this subject, to that, and back again. The coach needs to help them focus and work through the details of the issue. When they finally speak their decision, it is much more clarified and powerful.
- Coaches need to be careful not to be overrun by external thinkers. Sometimes you have to interrupt external thinkers, though be careful of making this a habit.
Coaches should follow the 80/20 rule. The coach should talk about 20% of the time, and the client should talk about 80%.
Are you an internal thinker or external thinker? What are some of the problems interacting with someone who is opposite from you?