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Mar 05, 2021

Are you an Internal or external processor?

Dear valued customer,

Do you know the difference between a person who processes internally and one who processes externally?

We are people who work with other people, you may remember. We have differences, and we’re better together only when we understand and appreciate those differences.

It’s not a matter of which style is preferable; both exist and both are necessary. But knowing which you are and understanding this about the members of your family and work family can be game-changing.

Let me explain.

The external processor

The external processor is a person who tends to develop their ideas while talking about them. They are actively thinking, and they turn their thought processes into sentences at the same time.

The first half of most meetings are usually dominated by the external processors in the room. They love to talk through ideas as much as they love the ideas themselves.

Like an artist working at a canvas, they start with a few disconnected lines of thought. But given enough time, creative and recognizable shapes begin to form while they talk. Connections are made, ideas evolve, and eventually a sophisticated strategy emerges and is stated.

If you are an external processor yourself, it’s important to know your tendency to talk your way to the conclusion. It’s also important that you remind those around you that this is your way of processing, and that they shouldn’t mistake your initial sentences of half-baked concepts for the complete, final picture that will eventually materialize.

The internal processor

If the external processor talks their way to a conclusion, the internal processor silently thinks their way to the conclusion. It’s not until they’ve given the topic enough brain cycles that the internal processor finally opens their mouth and states their ideas out loud.

Sometimes these are the people who have to be called on to voice their opinion during a meeting. While the external processors have been sharing the microphone, the internal processors have been listening carefully and thinking their own thoughts.

But when they do open their mouth to say something, it’s often a fully-baked, carefully evaluated statement of ideas or conclusions.

A word of caution for you internal processors

When working with personalities that differ from our own, we have to be careful not to impose our tendencies onto others. So, a word of caution is in order when it comes to working with those who process differently than we do.

If you’re an internal processor with external processors on your team, you have to resist the conclusion that everything they say is a fully-developed idea.

Most important, you have to avoid interpreting everything they say as an assignment to be executed. Instead, pay attention to the way their ideas develop as they talk, and be sure to clarify at the end of the conversation what actions you or others are expected to take.

A word of caution for you external processors

If you’re an external processor who works with internal processors, you have to resist the conclusion that their silence means they are not engaged in the conversation. The way they engage in group discussions is by thinking—and that’s usually an invisible function!

And don’t forget to invite their ideas after they’ve had sufficient time to think about the topic.

It’s also important for external processors to understand that the ideas that are evolving and taking shape while they are talking can sometimes be misinterpreted as directives or assignments by others in the room.

We’re here for you

At OneSource Virtual, it’s people that matter most and we’re better together. We’re here for you, and we want to help in any way we can. So please reach out and let us know if there are additional ways that we can serve you or your employees.

Thank you for partnering with us and for placing your trust in OSV. You remain at the center of everything we do.


Jeff Miller
Global Brand Marketing and Communications Director


About OneSource Virtual

OneSource Virtual (OSV) is the Workday partner that has helped more than 1,300 companies with everything from deployment to maintenance to payroll and more—all to make the day more doable. Founded in 2008, OSV pioneered Business Process as a Service (BPaaS) and has become the leading provider of automated solutions for organizations of all sizes using Workday, delivering services with unparalleled choices, unwavering commitment, and uncompromising care. OneSource Virtual’s global headquarters is located in Dallas, Texas, with additional locations across North America and Europe. OneSource Virtual: let’s make the day more doable. Find your company’s solution at www.onesourcevirtual.com.