Improving the Qualitative Participant Experience
An Article by Marnie Mochnacz, Senior Consultant Qualitative Research
For qualitative researchers, it’s the people we talk to that make our job so worthwhile. It’s an honour and a delight to be able to listen to someone and really hear their story. So how do we improve their experience and ensure they feel safe in sharing their thoughts and feelings with us?
Qualitative research involves asking Participants about their experience in things that happen in their lives, in a kind and supportive way. When done correctly it enables researchers to obtain insights into what it feels like to be another person and to understand the world from a different perspective.
What that means for you: Start your interviews with a few personal and fun questions or activities. It’s crucial to make people feel relaxed and at ease so you can build trust and understanding. Ideally, some of these can relate to the research objectives and help set the stage for the conversation ahead.
Practice Active Listening
Listening is one of the fundamental components of communication skills. It’s important to realize that this is not something that just happens! Listening is an active process in which a conscious decision is made to listen and understand the messages of the Participant. Using this skill improves the Participant experience on a multitude of levels.
What that means for you: As a moderator, if possible, try to do your interviews in a format that allows you to make eye contact. Watch the Participant’s body language, as it can tell you a lot more than their words – non-verbal communication makes up 60% of what we say! Listen to the Participant’s intonation, as how we say something accounts for 20% of what we say. This will help you interpret and understand your Participant better and get more out your conversation.
Make Participants Feel Valued
Making Participants feel valued for their time and contribution is also important. You can do this in numerous ways to make their experience positive and to get them more intrinsically involved. This makes them much more forthcoming with their honest feedback and makes them feel like the expert they were recruited to be.
What that means for you: Make sure each discussion or activity guide starts with guidelines, protocols, and information about what we are hoping to accomplish. You can use language like, “You were selected for your unique perspective” to assure Participants that their opinion is important. Inform Participants know about the length of discussion, that they can take breaks when needed, and that they should always be respectful to each other. Finally, always say thank you as opening up to someone about honest feelings or what you think can be hard!
Note from Jeff Jefkins, President at Lux
Nune joined Lux in 2019 after working about a decade for a global research agency. Based in Seattle area, she has a deep passion for exceptional quality and with partnering with her clients to solve their business issues.
Frankie, based in Vancouver, joined Lux in 2013 and this is her 5th promotion during that time! As her clients will attest, she has a strong commitment to excellence, laser focused on moving their organizations forward.
Thank you to our clients, partners, friends, and family who have supported Lux since we started in 2009. It is only because of your support that all of us at Lux get the privilege of being able to grow professionally and personally.
Please join the entire Lux team in celebrating Nune’s and Frankie’s appointments.”
– Jeff Jefkins