From the President: Getting Personal in Qualitative Research
Mark Sumpter, Mark@c-linkmoderating.com
One must be willing to disclose as much about him/herself as he/she wants to receive from those they are interviewing.
I wish I could remember who spoke these words at the 2014 QRCA/AQR Worldwide Conference, because I owe them a great deal of gratitude.
This quote changed the way I conduct research.
I don't like to talk about my qualitative practice or myself. But this one statement lingers in my mind every time I step into a facility, home, or office; pick up the phone; or get online to conduct an interview. This one statement made every dime I spent to attend the conference pay off.
You might wonder, "Why would Mark bring this up a year later?" Well, some rewards take time to realize, and I learned that putting this into practice strengthened my qualitative research business.
So, how has sharing more about me with my research participants helped make me be a better researcher and business partner?
- It demonstrated a willingness to be vulnerable, particularly when opening up about sensitive subjects, which instilled a greater sense of trust with the participants.
- It led to a greater sense of empathy toward the participants' thoughts and feelings.
We must not forget that, no matter how we try to put participants at ease during our upfront welcome, they see us as the authority in the room. We need to do all we can to create an atmosphere of open sharing.
Building trust and empathy by being vulnerable is generally rewarded with very honest, straightforward discussion.
It also helped me get better information for my clients and build stronger relationships with my client teams:
- First and foremost, clients obtained deeper, more emotionally-based insights, allowing them to better connect their products or services with consumers' higher-level needs.
- Second, through this greater connection clients gained greater understanding and empathy, making them better developers or marketers.
- Third, I built stronger bonds with my clients. They learned things about me they might not have otherwise known and they now start sharing things about themselves simply because I have.
This deeper bond and loyalty from clients has strengthened my business.
So, that's a little about me, how I've learned to share more, and one example of the many benefits of attending a QRCA conference. While I can't guarantee you will achieve the same result, it sure can't hurt to try.
And speaking of sharing, as always, the Board and I want to hear from you. Please reach out to Shannon or me with thoughts, questions, or new ideas on this or any subject! And, don't forget about the valuable asset members have to tap into the expertise of our colleagues on the Member Forum.
In your service,
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