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Frequently Asked Questions


・About Life Orientations (LIFO) Method

Q: What is the basic premise of LIFO Training?

A LIFO Training is based on the premise that all of people's actions - their behavior - can be looked at on a quantitative basis: the quantity of most-preferred behavior over the quantity of least-preferred behavior. Much of our difficulty in working with each other, of appreciating others and ourselves, comes from looking at behavior on a qualitative basis: what is right or wrong.

LIFO Training perceives behaviors as strengths, without assigning value judgments of good or bad. Overused strengths occur when we push to an excess that is too much for the situation and inappropriate. Underused strengths give us insufficient results. Ideally our strengths can incorporate an optimum and appropriate amount of energy to achieve the optimum results we seek.

LIFO Training helps people understand this basic premise by saying that we need to do less of our most-preferred strengths or styles in order to keep them from being in excess. And we need to do more of our least-preferred strengths or styles so that they don't become an insufficiency in our lives.


Q: What types of companies and organizations are appropriate for LIFO Training use?

By far, there are no limitations. Wherever there are people-­no matter what level, or country, or nature of work, or way of organization - there seems to be no limits for LIFO Training.


Q: How practical is it?

The language and ideas of LIFO Training are in everyday practical language and ideas. You can use LIFO Training's lessons immediately, applying workshop information at home and on the job.


Q: How structured and pre-packaged is LIFO Training?

LIFO Training is a structured program which allows considerable flexibility both in its ideas and use of materials. The materials allow latitude in the timing and amount of information given in any one session. While it is structured and pre-packaged, it is not rigid or pedantic.


Q: There are literally hundreds of training programs available. What's so special about LIFO Training?

It is easy to apply and quickly learned. It is inexpensive. It has immediate acceptance by participants. You can fit it into existing programs, or use it as a self-contained program. It has flexibility. It can be introduced in two and a half hours or expanded in depth to up to two or three days.

It is special, too, because it was developed, tested and refined in the field by Dr. Stuart Atkins, a nationally recognized trainer and behavioral scientist, who in 1967 designed· LIFO Training for his own consulting practice and found others were eager to apply the same principles and techniques in their businesses and organizations and interpersonal relations. It isn't a laboratory formula program trying to fit trainees into prescribed boxes. LIFO Training works with what we are, not a near-impossible ideal.


Q: How does LIFO Training compare with other training programs?

From the testimonials from participants and trainers alike, there is nothing that gets people to look inward and begin the introspective habit like LIFO Training. They mentioned it does it in a non-judgmental, non-evaluative way that makes it easy to accept information about themselves.

Unlike many other programs, the language of LIFO Training uses everyday terms that people can identify with. It is not behavioral science jargon. It doesn't type people. It identifies each individual's behavior as a mix of many things--a complicated mix which can be understood with some simple ideas.


Q: What makes LIFO Training valid?

The warm and enthusiastic acceptance that LIFO Training gets in the field does not necessarily mean it is valid or helpful on the job, however we have many documented success stories of individuals getting along better with their bosses, groups doing better planning and problem-solving, entire organizations heading off failure --all because of the insights and application of LIFO Training.


Q: Who endorses LIFO Training?

Ministers, teachers, psychologists, production foremen, army chaplains, chemical engineers, salesmen, presidents, secretaries, husbands, wives, children, and many, many more, endorse LIFO Training. That includes more than half the companies in the top Fortune 500 who are using LIFO Training, right down to small organizations and partnerships. For specific names of people and companies, contact LIFO Global Team.


Q: What can the trainee expect to leave with at the conclusion of the LIFO Training session?

The trainees can learn what new approaches to people and problems they need to try; what their excesses are and how to curb them; what kinds of people and situations create stress for them; how to overcome stress by eliminating the source of it; what new relationship strategies they need to try to influence the key people in their life; how they can best use their strengths in a group; how a group can be more effective by managing the similarities and differences of its members; and what kinds of assignments and jobs best utilize their strengths and style.


・About Life Orientations (LIFO) Application

Q: How can LIFO Training improve profit, productivity and performance?

By eliminating the time waste and energy waste in people squabbling over which way to do things, and by teaching efficiency in interpersonal communications, productivity and performance are enhanced and profitability potential improves with LIFO Training. It can help whole groups and departments be aware of their excesses and the way that they waste energy and create defensiveness both within and outside the company. It shows why people --including sales prospects - get turned off. LIFO Training·can improve profitability by providing better perspective and uncovering blind spots that allow errors in planning and decision-making.


Q: How can LIFO Training be used for management development?

LIFO Training can make managers aware of their own individual styles and the unique styles of others. It helps individualize the concept of motivation, showing managers what each of their employees need, and how jobs are structured, assignments made, and employees turned on or off according to their individual styles.


Q: How can LIFO Training be used for leadership training?

LIFO Training helps leaders understand their own unique style of leading and how they can make leadership opportunities available to others. It gives leaders insight into the motivation of the group, and how to be most influential with the group as a whole as well as its individual members.


Q: How can LIFO Training be used for team building?

LIFO Training identifies the strengths of the group, points out how the leader is the same or different from the group, and what the group needs to do to improve its problem ­solving, planning and decision-making capabilities. It looks at the ways the group can become more productive by managing the individual similarities and differences of the team members. It teaches techniques for using the differences effectively and identifies the inherent dangers of similarities that can prevent appropriate perspective in dealing with problems.


Q: How can LIFO Training be used in problem-solving?

LIFO Training looks at the individual styles that people use to solve problems, and teaches appreciation of the differing styles.


Q: How can LIFO Training be used for stress management?

In stress management, LIFO Training alerts people to the causes of stress: what induces stress in them. It also looks at the situational causes of stress; what pressures in the organization influence people to experience stress, which in turn makes people use their excesses and become counterproductive. LIFO Training also provides a training needs survey to see what is creating stress in the organization and what is creating stress within the individual.


Q: How can LIFO Training be used in career development?

LIFO Training organizes people's thinking about themselves. It helps them get on the sidelines to take a look at their strengths and what they have going for them. It gives them positive reinforcement about what's right about them and what they are doing productively. It also diagnoses areas in which they can improve their career path by adding new approaches to people and problems, and by discovering unused strengths and filling in any blind spots in their career decisions. It also shows where they can have more time and energy available to them through learning to curb their excesses.


・About Preferences/Orientations in Life Orientations (LIFO)

Q: Are there cultural biases stylistically?

Although the four orientations or styles are omnipresent, cultural biases do exist stylistically. For example, several Southeast Asian cultures are respectful, receptive, responsive – "Supporting-Giving" strengths. On the other hand, the New York City culture is known to be spontaneous and straightforward – "Controlling-Taking" strengths. Other cultures are careful and composed – "Conserving-Holding" strengths. And other cultures are accommodating and amiable – "Adapting-Dealing" strengths.


Q: How do preferences change during unfavorable conditions?

In the twenty-first century, three global trends have been identified. "Supporting-Giving" is idealistic, and the "Supporting-Giving" preference decreases during unfavorable conditions. "Conserving-Holding" is realistic, and the "Conserving-Holding" preference increases during unfavorable conditions. The "Adapting-Dealing" preference also increases during unfavorable conditions because people in general are more willing to adapt or negotiate – "Adapting-Dealing" strengths – to minimize or eliminate the source of stress or conflict.


Q: How does “tribalism” impact preferences?

“Tribalism” can be better understood through the lens of Life Orientations. For example, loyal and trusting – "Supporting-Giving" strengths – are frequently utilized within their own tribe (community, family, organization), but the same strengths may be underutilized when interacting with people outside their tribe. Also, empathetic and tolerant – "Adapting-Dealing" strengths – are frequently utilized within a tribe, but may not be utilized outside the tribe.


Q: How are the "Supporting-Giving" and the "Adapting-Dealing" orientations similar and dissimilar?

"Supporting-Giving" and "Adapting-Dealing" are similar orientations because they place emphasis on people and building relationships. They are dissimilar because the "Supporting-Giving" orientation values excellence while the "Adapting-Dealing" orientation appreciates harmony. Also, "Supporting-Giving" is more formal in approach while "Adapting-Dealing" is more informal in approach.


Q: Is "Controlling-Taking" the preferred style of successful leaders?

Successful leaders do not share one common most preferred style although groups, teams, and organizations may favor and reward one style more than the other styles. Emotional Intelligence (EI) research confirms that successful leaders utilize strengths from all four Life Orientations. Stylistic examples include collaborative from "Supporting-Giving", confident from "Controlling-Taking", composed from "Conserving-Holding", and adaptable from "Adapting-Dealing".


Q: Can all four orientations be preferred equally?

Five percent (5%)of people in one research study prefer all four orientations equally. This is a uniform profile. A uniform profile is a versatile profile, comfortably moving from one orientation to another orientation. However, versatility in excess can appear to be inconsistent and unpredictable.


Q: Why might an orientation be underappreciated?

An orientation might be underappreciated for several reasons. First, an orientation may not be appreciated if the orientation was not modeled – so the productive strengths of the orientation were not observed. Second, life experiences may have created adverse reactions to an orientation. Third, key people may have modeled the unproductive excesses of an orientation.


Q: What is Intention-Behavior-Impact?

Simplistically, Life Orientations survey totals reflect stylistic preferences during favorable conditions and unfavorable conditions. Life Orientations survey results also include three sets of subtotals – Intention, Behavior, Impact. Congruence exists when intended behavior (Intention), actual behavior (Behavior), and perceived impact on others (Impact) are consistent stylistically. Congruence increases clarity in communication.


Q: How can preferred styles of others be easily identified?

Listen attentively to the pronouns people use most frequently. People with a most preferred "Supporting-Giving" style will frequently use the pronouns we, our, and us. People with a most preferred "Controlling-Taking" style will often use the pronouns I and me. People with a most preferred "Conserving-Holding" style will frequently use the pronoun it – emphasizing tasks and things. And people with a most preferred "Adapting-Dealing" style will often use the pronoun you – placing their initial focus on others.


Q: Can "Supporting-Giving" be perceived as being "Controlling-Taking"?

"Supporting-Giving" can be perceived as being "Controlling-Taking". For example, a parent may intend (Intention) to do what is right, fair, and best for their child. The child, however, may see the parent (Impact) as being controlling, directing, and forceful. Suggestion: Verbalize intent to avoid miscommunication.


Q: Do preferences remain “fixed” throughout a lifetime?

If a person consistently experiences comfort, satisfaction, and/or success – personally or professionally – they will probably retain the same preferences. Conversely, if a person consistently experiences discomfort and/or dissatisfaction – personally or professionally – they may attempt to make subtle changes stylistically.

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