Published Mar 20, 2023
Knowing how we process information can significantly improve your chances of leveraging your strengths. We all process information in five domains: people, places, Activity, information and things.
Understanding how we sort information, we can improve in 10 ways:
That's what my wife said to me while I was standing in a retail shop as she shifted from one garment to the next; yup, boring, and doing that for the next hour, oh man! I'm all for new experiences, but looking at clothes to find something just right, nope, not me. Material objects are the least of my priorities; you will see why.
Why we sort information is important because it helps us organise and categorise information meaningfully. When we sort information, we can quickly identify the essential information, understand the relationships between different types of information, and make informed decisions based on the information presented.
The five domains mentioned above are mental sorting systems. Depending on how I sort and filter the information determines how I respond; equally, you do too. Here's how I sort information; know that based on context, this may change slightly, but this is a general understanding:
Yup, in that hierarchical order.
So my top three sorting filters are people, activities and information, which determine how I respond to my wife asking, "what do you think of this" 15 times! Think of it as a hierarchy of what I value most.
People - I may or may not like the dress, but my response will be a reflection of her than the dress. How I believe she'd benefit from it or not, I'd give an answer that strengthens her as a person. In the process, we find a way to improve the experience between us.
Activity - Purchasing those clothes, I'd consider based on what she might have already or what she needs or doesn't. I'm decisive in my decisions, so I don't waste time browsing unnecessarily.
Information - I decide to use factual data; for example, I'd gain as much information on the question as possible. The prices, any discounts available, how many people buy the same dress, what that type of style says about her.
As mentioned above, how we sort can inform a great deal about our lives. I want to share with you a simple assessment tool that you can determine yours too; I'll return to that.
Let's get a better understanding of what the five domains mean.
People: This type of sort involves focusing on people and their relationships. When sorting information by people, you focus on who is involved, their roles, and how they relate.
Activity: This type of sort involves focusing on actions and behaviours. When sorting information by Activity, you focus on what is happening, the kind of event, what actions are being taken, and how those actions are related.
Information: This sort involves focusing on facts, data, and details. When sorting information by information, you focus on what is known, what information is available, and how that information relates to the situation.
Things: This type of sort involves focusing on objects and materials. When sorting information by things, you focus on what objects or materials are concerned, their properties, and how they relate to each other.
Place: This type of sort involves focusing on location and environment. When sorting information by Place, you focus on where the situation is happening, the environment, and how the area impacts the case.
Image, for example, a woman whose top priorities were Things, Activity and Place. She loves going to the Flea Market. Why? She sorts by Things; she may feel there are treasures or collectables, but she focuses on the items available.
Based on sorting by Activity, she may be inclined to go because of particular activities she can experience there. She can spend the whole day there or be with her friends.
Sorting by Place, she knows those markets are best for finding gems; you can't find them anywhere else, although it's 10 miles further from the others she visits. Perhaps the atmosphere here is better.
Now, let's say her husband sorts by Information, Activity, and People. He doesn't prioritise Things or Places, so it would be the last he thinks about going. The thought of him going with her is crazy; there are bound to be disagreements, and perhaps he might feel bored.
To improve the experience, what could he do? Perhaps find out more 'information' about the flea market, the types of vendors there, and their credibility. Maybe he could speak with People from the vendors and learn more about the items, where they came from, and why they are valuable.
By knowing how we sort, we can change our life experiences and with others around us. We can communicate better what we find of value. Understand others better and build rapport with them. Perhaps we can assign the right person with the right task in our businesses.
Do you feel it's the right fit for what you do best? I did a quick assessment with my wife, and it turns out she sorts the following way:
She has an uncanny way of finding information, sourcing data and finding a solution. It's evident if Information is her top priority. Knowing this information, she could better adapt to her work, and she finds that it plays correctly where her strengths are. You can imagine that for her to make a presentation is straightforward, but delivering it is a challenge as People is fourth in her sorting list.
Here is a list of potential tasks or careers that may suit particular ways of sorting. Check it out and consider if it's accurate or do you feel you'd be better investing elsewhere.
Of course, there can overlap between these areas of career or task, and each sorting category can be applied to a wide range of fields. This table is just a starting point to give you an idea of how the different sorting categories could be used in other contexts.
My sort if you remember above is People, Activity, Information, Things and Place.
I currently in the coaching, mindset space dealing with people first hand. I value people and want to bring out the best in them. Peoplepreneur is a reflection of my interest and where I place my effort. I actively seek a leadership position that may deal with the management of people with my life and business. I value learning and information, champions of change is an example of this.
Here is a simple list of the strengths based on how we sort information. This is not a fully comprehensive list but can be used as a basis of understanding.
I have developed a simple assessment that you can do and find out how you sort information. Answer a set of five questions for each of the five domains by scoring (circling) whether it is of higher or lower importance.
1 being High and 5 being Low. When you have done so, use the point system to work out the numerical value for those ranks, finally tally them and rank your sorting method.
See my example below:
If you would like to try and find out how you sort information you can download it on the right under 'Newsletter Resource'.
Founder, Growth Coach, People Developer, Strategist,Unconventional Thinker, Aligner, Clarifier