A Simple Tool for Managers to Support Verbal Processors at Work: The Lazarus Technique

by Sarah Bedrick

Communication styles within a team can vary, and as a manager, understanding and adapting to these differences is essential to fostering collaboration. 

If you have team members who are verbal processors—individuals who take time to answer questions or tend to provide convoluted responses—then this blog post is tailor-made for you. 

And for context, I know this well because I'm a recovering verbal processor myself and this strategy has helped me immensely.

The game-changing strategy is called the Lazarus Technique. Done right, it will revolutionize how you direct your questioning with verbal processors to streamline communication.

Unpacking Verbal Processing:

Before we dive into the Lazarus Technique, it's essential to recognize the reasons behind verbal processing.

Individuals may adopt this style for various reasons, such as:

  • thinking aloud allows them time to arrive at an answer
  • it buys them time to articulate a polished response
  • providing lots of details or context can be a response to uncertainty about the level of detail required in a satisfactory response (they want to answer it well, but they don't know what well looks like.)
  • it could also be a coping mechanism as a result of a cultural or trauma response
  • *I’ve also learned from my TikTok video on this topic that this is also common among neuro-divergent people

Introducing the Lazarus Technique:

The Lazarus Technique is a powerful tool designed to cut through the complexity of verbal processing and elicit concise, meaningful responses. 

What is the Lazarus Technique?

It's basically a strategy to get the most boiled-down answer to any question you ask.

And while I love this for verbal processors, it can be used anytime you want to cut through clutter or noice and get straight to the meat of a person’s thinking.

So what is it?

Ask the person to answer your question in one word, one phrase, and one sentence or paragraph.


  • "In one word, how would you describe this project so far?"
  • "In one sentence, tell me how this project's going."

Other examples where this strategy works:

Two more examples:

  • A branding agency I am working with used this exact strategy on me. As part of an informational interview, they asked me, “If you had to describe the company’s brand in just 3 words, what would they be?
  • Oftentimes, when I interview new candidates for a job, I’ll ask them, “What are three words your colleagues would use to describe you?” And “What are three words you’d use to describe yourself?

Benefits for Managers:

Implementing the Lazarus Technique offers numerous advantages for managers. 

Verbal processors are required to respond succinctly, distilling their thoughts and eliminating unnecessary details. 

This not only saves time but also provides managers with clear, focused insights that can be easily used for further probing or decision-making. 

Other reasons it’s a powerful tool:

  • Clarity: Forces verbal processors to cut through mental clutter and express themselves concisely.
  • Efficiency: Streamlines communication, ensuring you receive relevant information without unnecessary details.
  • Probing Opportunities: Enables managers to use the initial response as a foundation for targeted follow-up questions. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT BENEFICIAL PART OF THE STRATEGY, in my opinion.

Try It Out: Share Your Experience:

Ready to transform communication with your verbal processors? Give the Lazarus Technique a try, and let me know how it works for you (here’s my LinkedIn).

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