When you get to know people over time you understand how they process information. Extroverts process information by talking. They think things through using their words, which means they talk it out with people to reach their final decision. Introverts process information by thinking. They think things through in their heads, which means they are quiet and need time without interruption to process. If extroverts do not pay attention they talk over everyone and are never quiet long enough for introverts to be able to think. If introverts do not pay attention the opportunity to share their thoughts dissolves away because they have been in their head thinking.
I learned all this with a boss I had years ago. She had a thinking face. When I shared my ideas – as I am an extrovert – she would krinkle her forehead and be silent for many minutes. Often overwhelmed by all my words she looked puzzled. I then asked her if that face was her thinking face? She didn’t know she had one, so I enlightened her as to how she looked at me when I presented ideas. It also let me know that she needed time to process what I was presenting, so I had to plan ahead. If I needed a decision from her I had to present the details then go away so she could process alone. Once she had time to think we were able to engage in a productive conversation.
They key here is knowing how you process information and how those around you process things. Not everyone thinks or processes things like you, so being aware of your style and their needs helps facilitate the communication process. If you process by talking you need to become comfortable with silence. Silence allows people who process differently the time they need to think and compile the information in order to participate and make a decision. If you are an introvert you need to realize a blank face tells the audience nothing because they don’t know what is going on in your head. You need to let people know you are thinking and need time to process, otherwise they may assume your blank face means you are not paying attention.
We often forget that our face reveals what is going on in our heads, and there are other times where it tells people nothing. Being self aware of how you process and how those around you process can make all the difference in communicating clearly. Whether you process through words or process in your head be sure you know whether or not you are dealing with a thinking face.