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Meditation and the Art of Moderating

Posted By Regina Szyszkiewicz, MA, Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Meditation and the Art of Moderating

mindfulness

Handling Tough Moments

Imagine you are seated at the head of a conference table and you open a focus group discussion asking participants how they feel about their health insurance plan. And the first person who responds says she does not like her plan because she received poor care that led to amputation of her leg. And imagine you still have 90 minutes to go and you don’t want the group’s energy or the discussion to get derailed. What do you do?

This actually happened to me about 15 years ago. I was personally shocked and momentarily caught off-guard by the comment. But I managed to connect with the participant, acknowledging what she had just shared. I proceeded to uncover what others had to say — which included more typical responses of being happy or unhappy due to cost or access.

In the end, the group was successful and the client obtained the desired insights tied to the research objectives. I felt fortunate, because I knew it could have gone a different way.

we are only human

We Are only Human

As moderators, we have to keep our cool. There are many things we need to juggle during a live focus group or interview session. We need to multi-task: asking the questions, managing participation, keeping track of research objectives, watching the time, etc.

During sessions, we never know what will come. Things might not go as planned: participants may arrive late, first-time client observers may want to add questions that are off-topic to a discussion guide that is already packed, someone may become ill in the group, etc. We need to be able to respond mindfully and wisely.

To ensure participants feel safe, secure, and comfortable, we personally also need to feel the same. When we have an off day, we need to find a way to get our energy centered and grounded.

meditation to the rescue

Meditation to the Rescue

There are things we can do to become present with ourselves so that we can be present with others. Having a self-connecting routine or ritual prior to beginning an interview or focus group is a good start.

I find daily meditation and yoga practice to be an invaluable self-connecting training. I can more easily find the mental and emotional space to make wise choices in the moment. I am also better able to have compassion for others and myself.

In fact, I have found meditation and yoga to be so beneficial in my life and career that I became a certified yoga instructor 15 years ago! (I now teach a community yoga class on most Saturdays as a volunteer.)

meditation

Some self-connecting tools to explore:

Author Bio:


Regina Szyszkiewicz, MA, of Ten People Talking loves qualitative research. She is a master moderator who has conducted over a thousand qualitative sessions. Regina has deep experience in both in-person and online qualitative methods. Regina received her MA from the University of Illinois in Applied Sociology / Market Research. She served on QRCA’s board from 2016-2018 and currently serves as a co-chair of QRCA’s Online Special Interest Group.

www.Tenpeopletalking.com
https://www.linkedin.com/in/reginaszyszkiewicz/

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Comments on this post...

Regina Szyszkiewicz, Ten People Talking says...
Posted Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Would love to hear about your favorite tools and resources. Please share!
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Kelly Heatly, Heatly Custom Research, LLC says...
Posted Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Thanks for the great ideas, Regina! As a daily ritual, I find running to be a great way to clear the mind and help anxiety to melt away. Some of my best thoughts and creative ideas come while I'm running, as there are no distractions (no phone!) So, you are forced to think. In the moment, I find lighting a candle to be very soothing, much like essential oils. You get the warm feeling of the flame plus the aromatherapy. I do candles a lot at my desk.
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Janet Standen, Scoot Insights says...
Posted Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Great article/reminder. Thanks Regina! Definitely being more than 100% prepared helps, and having a great support team! A few deep breaths and centering myself just before the groups start with a final glance through the discussion guide before I put it out of sight is my ritual.
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Regina Szyszkiewicz, Ten People Talking says...
Posted Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Love the comments! I do enjoy candles too! And Yes being 100% prepared is a must!
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Regina Szyszkiewicz, Ten People Talking says...
Posted Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Love the comments! I do enjoy candles too! And Yes being 100% prepared is a must!
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Amy Savin, Savin Management Group LLC says...
Posted Monday, November 4, 2019
I love this, Regina. Especially before a long day of groups. And sounds like it could be great on a break between groups.
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Regina Szyszkiewicz, Ten People Talking says...
Posted Monday, November 4, 2019
Hi Amy, Yes. Thank you!
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Cheryl Stella Dalisay, STELLAR Strategic Services, Inc. says...
Posted Tuesday, November 5, 2019
Great reminder that grounding ourselves leads to a better ability to handle everything and everyone we encounter! Love all the specific tips, thank you! Walking is my go-to daily ritual, but so is anything that requires no brain power and is methodical, like washing dishes, mowing, doing laundry. Since many QRCs work out of our homes, any of these can be possible to refocus our brains. My "me time" around clients involves going into the focus group space and thinking about the people who might be there. I straighten chairs, pens, paper...anything that grounds me to the space. The clients feel like I'm getting the room ready, but my brain is making way for all there is to come! Thanks for sharing, Regina!
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Regina Szyszkiewicz, Ten People Talking says...
Posted Tuesday, November 5, 2019
Cheryl - Your share about getting grounded in the space with ourselves (in quiet time) just before our participants arrive is so needed. Wonderful reminder!
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Abby Leafe, New Leafe Research says...
Posted Wednesday, November 6, 2019
Love this! I'm trying to get my daughter meditating to relieve anxiety, but it's a good reminder for me too.
Permalink to this Comment }

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