Sorting Styles, In-Time, Through-Time

28 Mar

In the sorting styles trilogy, I think this is my favorite! I have taught this to people all over the world.  It is a very practical tool in every walk of life!

In-Time or Through-Time is about how we code time; the duration from event to event creates our image of time.  Do any of the following situations frustrate you, or even more dramatic, do they actually offend you?

  • People that arrive late, seemingly unaware or caring that they are late.  When you address it their response is usually “I’m late?”
  • When you ask “Are you ready to go?”  “Yes” means it will be 30-60 minutes before you’re leaving.
  • People who constantly rush you!  Rush you off the phone, into decisions, out the door, and through your meal.
  • People that tap their watch and give you “the eye” as if you can’t tell time.

Time issues tend to be at the center of conflict, arguments, hurt feelings and even CLMs (career limiting moves).

For In-Time people time is sort of like bubbles.  Once they have climbed into a bubble, time is pretty irrelevant – the task, relationship or conversation is most important.  In-Time people are often offended if an activity ends based on some artificial time constraint.  “Of course I was a couple of minutes late, I was on the phone finishing up a conversation.”

Through-Time people are pretty much the opposite – time resembles a series of blocks that you walk along side, moving from one to the next at an even pace.  A day is 24 one-hour blocks that are assigned – so many units for sleeping, eating, working, playing, etc.  A Through-Time person will typically pack-up their materials 5-10 minutes before the end of a meeting so they can transition smoothly from one block to the next.  They are often offended when time is not adhered to and valued as a resource.

Are you starting to see yourself in one of these?  This sorting style is very closely tied to feelings of respect, which is why it’s also tied to conflict.  In-Time people tend to feel respected when they are allowed to experience the freedom of exploring or completing the process, conversation or idea.  Through-Time­ people tend to feel respected when others use their time wisely

Yes, of course, everyone can and does function in both types of time, however, most of us have a preference.  The good news is that both styles contribute significantly in life.  A friend once said, “It’s great to have a Through-Time person plan a vacation, but you want to go on vacation with an In-Time person!”

CLICK HERE for the paper and quiz! Please remember – this information is to help you appreciate and manage different preferences, it is NOT to justify bad behavior or condemn others!

2 Responses to “Sorting Styles, In-Time, Through-Time”

  1. Bill Benjamin March 29, 2012 at 7:43 am #

    Hey Sue – loved these articles on sorting systems. I seem to surround myself with “in time” people when I am such a “through time” person! 🙂

    One question – is there any discussion in the literature about the combinations of the sorting systems and what that means about you? i.e. if I am a “sameness, move toward, through-time” person, that means …

    Kind of like “INPJ” type combos ..

    Thanks for the great articles!


    • Sue March 30, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

      Hey Bill – good question. The short answer is “I don’t think so.” Michael Hall’s book has 60 different sorting styles (the 4 MTBI qualities are listed as 4 sorting styles). He doesn’t really meld them together. If you want to brainstorm sometime, we could make up our own answer! ha.

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