Are you a Global or Linear Processor?

It was our weekly pre-marriage counseling session.  Jake and I knew already what we wanted to discuss with our counselor.  I began to speak, but Jake interrupted  saying he could summarize and tell the story faster.  I agree so he begins.  But then the counselor interrupts him!

We did not think there was anything wrong with what happened.  This was our reality.  Jake can speak more concise than I can.  This was how we operated and we both knew it.  Our session was only 50 minutes so it was logical to condense the information so our counselor could spend more time helping us.

What we learned in that session was more important that what we thought we needed to discuss.  We learned our brains process information very differently.  Jake is a linear processor while I am a global processor.

Linear processors contemplate all details of the situation internally before coming to a conclusion.  After that, they  can vocalize the end result.  Oftentimes, linear processors need time alone so their thoughts aren’t interrupted.

Global processors, by contrast, like to talk and talk and after that talk some more.  It is imperative they are around people they trust and respect since they are vocalizing their thoughts and feelings out loud.  Once they have talked through it, they finally reach a conclusion.

John, our counselor, painted us a vivid mental image during that session.  Global processors are like wheat throwers. Before modern machinery, wheat separated from the chaff by tossing it in the air over and over.  This allowed the lighter chaff to be blown away in the wind.  Like the wheat thrower that tosses the same wheat in the air, I repeat the same details in different ways until all that is left is the final conclusion.

God’s kindness in revealing this has saved us from many frustrating moments.  Jake {pretends to} listen to me use 40,000 words in 15 minutes.  In return, I allow him alone time to process instead of accusing him of shutting down emotionally.  Difficulties like these arise quite often and we have to make a decision to allow grace to rule the day, rather than internalize it as a personal attack.

Please take some time this week to have a simple discussion with your spouse or significant other how you each process thoughts and emotions and remember, opposites attract!  We greatly enjoy you taking the time to read this post and encourage you to let us know how you process.

Have a great week!
~ Shannon


4 comments to Are you a Global or Linear Processor?

  • Janice Olson  says:

    Wow! Dennis and I are exactly the same. Sometimes it takes him so long to process I forget what we were talking about lol. It is a good thing we process differently. I don’t always see the consequences. He does because he sees my thought all the way to the end where I just have a short vision.

  • Terra Douglas  says:

    This is definitely Larry and I. I have learned to throw whatever it might be, out to him, to give him time to think about what he would like to do or how to handle the situation. I, on the other hand, I talk to anyone who will listen, even some who don’t (lol) until I have worked it out in my mind what is the best way to handle the issue or project.

  • Brian Caruthers  says:

    Over the years, in an effort to be a better communicator, I have stopped thinking about what to say next while my wife is talking. Instead, I am actively listening without processing the information. Once my wife is done talking, which seems like never, I have to take a few seconds to process what she said. If the discussion we are having is more on the heated side, these few seconds usually are perceived as refusing to talk. Being a good communicator has its down side.

  • Our first date - 8 years later - Kingdom Trailhead  says:

    […] I did not communicate the best.  Did you read the post about our communication?  If not, click HERE and you can read it.  We process differently.  Thankfully our counselor recognized this and we […]

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