IAF Methods


by for . Last edit was over 2 years ago
60 - 75 any
This process generates deeper personal understanding of one's personality or an abstract subject or issue.
It is used when participants of a workshop or training feel a need for a deeper personal understanding (e.g. defining the direction of the own professional development). or to further explore the meaning of rather abstract subjects or issues.
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The aim of this method is to get a better understanding of one's own personality or a good perception and better understanding of an abstract issue.


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  • 8 - 10 small, blank cards (size about 5 x 7 cm), a dark marker as well as a sheet of paper (A3-format) per person. Also helpful might be a flip chart in order to write down certain things e.g. tasks.



Number of participants: any

Types of participants: This method requires participants that are willing to share personal thoughts within the group and with the facilitator.

Time needed: A time frame of about 60 to 75 minutes should be planned for this process.

Ideal conditions: The environment should be comfortable and not too office-like. The participants and the facilitator should feel at ease.

Pre-Work Required: There is no work that needs to be done beforehand.

Type of Facilitator-Client Relationship: There needs to be a great level of trust between the facilitator and the participant, enough trust and safety within the group so that the people feel comfortable sharing personal information.

Facilitator personality fit: The facilitator needs to be able to empathize with the participants and be sensitive.


1. Characteristic
Every participant should take five to eight small cards and ask them to think of one of the topics (stated below under either "Personality Gestalt" or "Subject Gestalt").
The participants should then spontaneously, and without much thinking, write down striking characteristics on the cards. It should be between five and eight characteristics, each written on one card.

2. Antonym
The participants should now formulate the antonym of these words and write them on the back of the cards, as these might help them to clarify what they actually want to express. They should avoid non-, un- or -less words (e.g. friendly does not become unfriendly but hard, or ignoring). Of course people can help each other during this part.

3. Gestalt
Each participant takes an A3 sized sheet of paper and, either continuing with the original word or the antonym, organize them on the paper in a way that makes sense to them. In case of the Personality Gestalt also the reference person is of no importance anymore.The words should be placed by instinct only.

4. Explanation
The facilitator should subdivide the participants into pairs or triads in which they would like to talk about their Gestalt.
They should then explain the Gestalt to each other and are allowed to ask questions in order to help each other clarify. This is also a good moment to share experiences. This should take about ten minutes per person.
After that the participants should sit together as a whole group again and discuss the outcomes. At this point an evaluation of the process can be done by the individual and the group.


This exercise uses the characteristics of other people mostly close to the participants, to mirror their own personality.

--> Think of the characteristic of these persons:
A friend of the same gender
A friend of the other gender
A 'good' teacher from the past
A 'bad' teacher from the past
A role model/reference person


This method helps to understand the meaning of a more abstract subject or issue, e.g. work, family, networking, and integrity. This is done by using a combination of different characteristics and therefore the 'Gestalt' helps to understand what seems to be the essence of a subject or issue for the individual.

--> The facilitator suggests a subject or issue at hand (for instance work, family, networking, peace and integrity) and asks individuals to write down the characteristics which come to their mind.


Follow-Up Required: There is no follow-up required.

Usual or Expected Outcomes: The expected outcome is a better understanding of the own personality and its characteristics, or understanding a more abstract subject or issue (for instance work, family, networking, peace and integrity).

Potential pitfalls: If the level of trust is not high enough an open talk might not be possible.

How success is evaluated: The process is successful when the participants feel that he/she have got some advice or a new perspective on the discussed issue.


Comments (1) ( 4.0  avg / 1 ratings)

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  • This requires careful preparation so that the answers that people write on their cards are helpful, and the conversations they have with others are safe and honest. I think it is best used to understand an abstract topic or issue. For these topics you could find yourself listening to perspectives that are very different from yours, and lead to real insight.

    over 3 years ago