Improving "Difficult Conversations":
Tips for Researchers

Group engaging in Difficult Conversations

Our team recently came across an interesting interview with Peter Coleman, the founder of the Difficult Conversations Lab at Columbia University, a lab dedicated to the practice of discussing challenging topics. Coleman has some helpful advice for everyone on how to communicate better. 

When discussing difficult topics, or speaking with people with different views than you, Coleman highlights the importance of setting up the conversation so that it isn’t “debate style.” Instead, when you present the conversation as a complex, multi-layered issue with various problems at play, you allow for nuances of opinion. This opens people up to developing empathy, curiosity, and insight.

The communication style that Coleman recommends is vital to creating open, honest, and insightful conversation when undergoing qualitative research – especially when speaking with people from different backgrounds, viewpoints, or experiences than you. 

Earlier this year, our own CEO, Denene Rodney, and our Director of Brand Management, Sharon Arthur, presented at the Qualitative Research Consultants Association’s 2019 Annual Conference. 

In their presentation, Denene and Sharon focused on the same crucial point: when you make marketing research judgments without considering feedback from people represented in the ads, it does a disservice not just to the client, but to the general public. 

To ensure personal and collective accountability when undertaking a market research project, it’s important to be honest and know what you don’t know, expand your network, and seek advice from those who do know.

We all make subconscious assumptions about other people and cultures based on our experiences, our relationships, other people’s appearances, and our preconceived ideas about other cultures. It is the role of the researcher to act as their clients’ stewards, to educate, guide, and safeguard them, and to better customize marketing messaging that consider cultural nuance. 

Sharon and Denene’s talk highlighted the importance of “diversity marketing.” The ability to identify and keep up with shifts in communities in a culturally responsive manner is imperative for including everyone’s voice, decision-making, marketing strategy, attitudes, and dispositions of groups.

Did we spark your curiosity? You can request a quote with us here and push your campaign to the limit through quality research. 

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