This episode is inspired by the painful-to-watch lack of communication skills exhibited in TV show ‘Normal People’. Avoid utter relationship exhaustion by understanding your processing style, and that of those in your life. This is a total game changer that will up-level your relationships & help you understand one another more deeply.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- What your processing style is
- The strengths & weaknesses of each style
- How to communicate effectively with people who have the opposite and the same style as you
- What to do to make communication simpler
- How to leverage your processing style
This podcast is for YOU, so if you ever have any questions you’d like me to answer on the show, or topics you’d like me to cover – reach out to me on email here or over on instagram @eleanorhadley
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Hello and welcome to Episode 16 of The Sensuality Academy Podcast!
I’m so happy to be back behind this microphone talking to you again. I had to take last week off the podcast because I completely lost my voice. I would wake up every morning hoping it was better so I can record an episode for you but I sounded ridiculous. I’m happy to finally have my voice back almost, 90% back to normal.
So, let’s get into this week’s episode.
Now, after I heard so much hype about the new tv series adaption of Sally Rooney’s popular book “Normal People”, I finally sat down to watch this a couple of weeks’ ago. I had high expectations for this show because so many people would not stop banging on about it, and I especially heard a lot of people in the sexuality space speaking about how revolutionary the show was in terms of the way they portrayed sex.
So, naturally, I was intrigued. The promise of seeing sex scenes portrayed in a new light on tv was enough for me to sign up for a 30-day trial of Stan.
If you follow me on instagram already you may have witnessed my rant over on my stories last week and my utter frustrations with the characters lack of communication skills. Honestly, it drove me bonkers. I kept waiting for the show to get better, and stubbornly stuck with it and watched the whole damn series only to severely regret wasting precious hours of my life on it.
If you haven’t seen it yet and have no idea what I’m on about, essentially it’s a teen romance/drama set in Ireland that follows the tumultuous love story of Connell & Maryanne. Now, I’m not going to spend too long today talking about the show itself cos I know a lot of you may not have watched it, plus I’m here to give you tangible techniques to help you avoid experiencing epic communication failures like those exhibited in “Normal People”.
So to illustrate how absolutely awful these characters are at having a real god damned conversation, I’m going to play you this hilarious Tik Tok parody of the show that my cousin sent me after she saw how much the show bugged me. Yes, I’m obsessed with Tik Tok and no I’m not sorry. But this about sums up the show.
[PLAY TIK TOK]
I swear that type of conversations took up about 50% of the show, then about 30% moody silent shots and 20% sex scenes.
Okay, I’m going to stop ranting about it now. But all this to say that the terrible conversation skills in the show inspired me to come on to the podcast to talk about processing styles. Sexy right?
Processing styles refer to the way in which we process ideas, thoughts and feelings – internally or externally. Now, this topic has been on my list to share with you for a while, and the reason I just needed to bump this episode this week was because, while watching Normal People, I could see that these two characters were internal processors. Now, their processing style is but the tip of the iceberg of issues that Connell and Maryanne have. Honestly, they could both do to listen to my episodes 7 & 9 & Knowing your Needs and How to Avoid Miscommunication in Relationships.
So – let’s talk about processing styles. Knowing and understanding your processing style and those of the people you love is a total game changer – in relationships, family, friendships and the workplace. I’m all about learning and teaching how to connect and communicate better, so we can have more nourishing and meaningful conversations. And this tool is an integral part of your communication toolkit.
Let’s dive in.
There are two processing styles – internal & external. This is about how you work through things. So, which are you? You might already have a sense, but let me spell it out for you.
As I share these two different styles, have a think which one resonates with you the most and recognise which style other people in your life might have.
An internal processor:
- Tends to work things through in their heads – their thoughts, feelings, problem-solving – it’s all done internally
- They will generally spend time carefully forming their thoughts and opinions before they voice them
- They often need intentional alone time to think properly
- They don’t appreciate being asked to comment or share their opinion on the spot
- They do appreciate having time to plan and prepare ahead of time
- They will often listen and take things in more than they talk (caveat to this: this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re *good* listeners, though they may be, it simply refers to the fact that they generally don’t just talk unless they’re ready and have what they want to say formulated in their minds first)
- Hosts of the wonderful show Multiamory have nicknamed this processing style as “The Chewer”, someone who chews on things, the opposite is “The Spewer” which is the external processor. Although I am grossed out by these terms, it is an easy way to remember the different types of processing styles.
On the other hand, an external processor:
- Tends to like ’thinking out loud’ and bouncing ideas off someone else
- They often will just talk problems through to a point whereby they come to a conclusion as a result of the chat
- They love to brainstorm and get things out
- This can be by talking a problem through with a single person, a group, through a post on social media, by writing it down and even by just talking aloud to themselves.
- They can often have a *need* to verbalise what they’re thinking, to get it out of their heads
- And for the external processors, Multiamory hosts dub this as “The Spewer”.
So, with zero context, I polled you on instagram and asked you to tell me if you preferred to work things out in your head or out loud and the results of my very professional study showed that 32% of you are internal processors and 68% of you are external processors.
What do you think you are? Me, I’m totally an external processor. Which, as someone who runs a business mostly by myself, has me spending perhaps too much time talking to myself. Anyway…
Why is this helpful specifically for relationships? I’m so happy you asked, I love how curious you are!
DO any of these sound familiar?
- You have been exasperated waiting for someone to just tell you how they feel about you?
- You’ve felt pressured to comment on a topic in the moment but don’t feel ready
- You’ve had people take your out loud brainstorming as fact, instead of what it is – just spitballing ideas
- You feel like you’re the one doing ALL the talking and sharing in a relationship
These are ways that our processing styles can trip us up and lead to confusion and miscommunication.
I’m an external processor and I just love to talk things out loud. A lot of the time I haven’t yet formed my final decision or thoughts on something when I’m chatting things through. Which can lead to people being confused and saying to me later, “I thought you said you wanted X…but now you’re talking about Y?” And to me it makes total sense. But to an internal processor, who often spends their time thinking internally and only verbalising their final thoughts and conclusions – it can seem somewhat insane and infuriating to them. Because we all tend to view other people’s behaviour through our own lens. Which ultimately leads to conflict, if we aren’t willing to take off our “self” glasses and instead try on a few other frames to understand other perspectives and how other people may see things.
I mean, this is just basic empathy, really, and a skill everyone needs to adopt ASAP. You can see by the state of the world, the damage that can be done (has been done, is being done) by those who refuse to see the world from any other point of view than their own. This notion of “well, if it doesn’t impact me, it doesn’t matter” is harmful and outrageously dangerous.
Anyway, back to processing styles.
As an example from my own life, cos I just love oversharing – a previous partner of mine is an internal processor. To the point where when we would be going through something, he barely spoke. When he did, his words were intentional and carefully chosen. As an external processor I always just wanted to talk and talk and talk to figure out how I felt about things. Often in the process I might say things that I don’t really believe fully. Now, thankfully in this dynamic, my partner was pretty cognisant of my verbal diarrhoea tendencies and never lorded my babbling over me, but it did prove to be a challenge. I, on the other hand, was utterly baffled by his silence during conflict. I immediately would take this to mean that he didn’t care and wasn’t interested. I would push him to say something, anything – despite him not being ready.
Can you relate to this kind of situation?
If you’re an internal processor, you’re probably like OMG it’s so annoying when they force me to speak when I’m not ready, or “Shit do they ever stop talking!?”
And, if you’re an external processor like me, you’re probably resonating and tend to feel frustration with people when they don’t have as much to say on things about you, maybe you see it as a flaw or make it mean something about the person themselves.
Ooof, communication is a minefield huh?
Now – as much as you likely feel like your processing style is the best way – they each have their strengths and weaknesses.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of being an internal processor:
First up, the strengths of a Chewer type are:
- Since they often spend time internally deliberating, their thoughts are often very solid by the time they verbalise them
- This means you can know that they truly mean what they say
- Because they deliberate over their word choice, they can be very clear, concise and great communicators
And then some weaknesses internal processors face are:
- Being seen as cold, disengaged, uninterested
- Being easily exhausted by external processors
- Being seen as not being a team player
Then, the Spewer, or external processors strengths are:
- Their ability to be flexible, to adapt and change their mind mid-way through conversations
- Being quite creative and able to generate new ideas and concepts as they’re being discussed
Whereas their weaknesses are:
- The feeling of potential abandonment or pain that can come from an internal processor who isn’t interested in talking things through out loud
- Taking up a lot of time by brainstorming out loud
- Being seen as being too talkative, or indecisive
- Being unable to keep thoughts inside when it may not be an appropriate time to discuss them
So, again, neither is the superior style. But, it’s important that we know our own and then look out for the ways in which the people in our life tend to need to process things. This will lead to way more understanding and a whole lot less conflict.
So, what to do when dealing with someone with a different processing style to you:
- First things first, know yours and theirs and make sure they do too
- Don’t project your processing style on to everyone else. People are different, respect that.
- Understand the goal of your communication & how it relates to your processing style. You might like to go back and listen to Episode 9 on How to Avoid Miscommunication in Relationships. But essentially, you want to keep in mind – does the goal of your conversation fall into the category of “Hear Me, Feel Me or Help Me”?
Remember, Hear me is where – You/they want to share and be heard
Feel me is when You/they are seeking sympathy, comfort, praise or celebration
And Help me is where You/they are wanting help to solve a problem or seeking advice
So – an internal processor may come to you with the intention to simply share something and have that simply be heard – Hear Me. And an external processor might like to specify that they’re wanting to bounce ideas with you, that they’re seeking advice – Help Me.
Again, your processing style doesn’t dictate which of these three goals of communication you use – but you can see how they’re handy tools to use together, right? Right, so glad you agree!
Some specific tips if you’re an internal processor:
- Let those around you know that you operate best when you have some time to think things through
- Ask for space and time to get back to people on things
- If you’re internal and speaking to an external processor, reassure them that you care about what’s being discussed, but prefer to formulate your thoughts in your head first
- Take intentional time away from a discussion to gather your thoughts, and set a time to come back and share
- It’s important that you both feel your needs are met, so understanding that your silence could be frustrating or difficult for an external processor, be sure to share your style and set your boundaries so you don’t get forced to comment when you’re not ready
- To avoid further conflict – when you share your final thoughts on something, make it known that you may be set on them and aren’t searching for a brainstorm or help – because you’ve essentially already done that for yourself
And for the external processors:
- Consider alternative ways to process things externally before perhaps overloading you internal processing partner
- This could look like talking it out with someone else (another external processor) or making use of a journal – writing it out, typing it out, talking it out to a voice recorder
- Make others aware that you’re brainstorming of spitballing, and that not to take everything you say, while you’re in this mode as gospel
- You can also encourage your partner to support your process by simply asking clarifying questions to help you get to a resolution. Sometimes all we external processors need is to verbalise our thoughts to the point where we realise the answer ourselves – but the process of externally talking it through is integral to us to come to a conclusion.
If you’re both internal – like bloody Maryanne and Connell in Normal People – you’re going to have to be really intentional about sharing your thoughts with one another to ensure you’re both on the same page. Because if you are both stewing on something but don’t get around to verbalising it…well, it can lead to more heartache than is necessary. Case in point with those two.
On the flip side – two internal processors could have wonderful, clear communication with one another.
If you’re both external – well, this is where you can end up talking around incircles forever and ever. Be sure to come to conclusions and to a point where you clarify your final thoughts and feelings and ideas. Since you both love a good brainstorm, there’s potential for some serious fun and creativity to spring from this. You just want to remember that things said during a brainstorm aren’t always concrete and fully formed opinions – so ask clarifying questions often.
Okay – I hope that this has helped you to understand the ways in which you tend to process your thoughts, ideas, feelings and emotions and that it supports you to have better relationships moving forward.
An amazing way to make your communication even better is to communicate about communication…so share this episode far and wide! Send it to your partner, have a conversation about which one resonates, and how you feel a potential mismatch has led to past conflict, and how you want to navigate things in the future.
I’d love it if you take a screenshot right now and shared it to your story – don’t forget to tag me too!
And – make sure you head over to insta and comment to let me know if you’re an internal or an external processor!
Huge shoutout to The Multiamory Podcast where I originally learnt about this concept. I adore this show, so be sure to check it out.
As always, if you’re interested in working with me 1:1 to embody your femininity, enhance your Sex Life and elevate your relationships – you can book in for a free chemistry call or sign up for coaching – you can find all the details in the shownotes, plus links to the other episodes mentioned today.
Happy communicating, my loves and as always, stay sensual!
Let me know your thoughts!