Helping people express emotional responses

31 Jan 2016 | Research & Business Knowledge

An ICG member was conducting a project that invovled exploring emotionally driven communications ideas.  One of the sample cohorts was with respondents who may have difficulty, or be reluctant to, express their emotional responses.  This may include children, professionals (who are unwilling to be seen to play a game!) or people who simply find emotional territory difficult.  Suggestions to help them do this included:

  • Using Emoticons (useful as they as such a big part of the way in which people communicate today) or sets of pictures of people expressing emotions (easy to create from publically available pictures – but do check that the images you use are not copywrited!) or provide a set of images cut out from magazines etc (I did this with business bank account users to understand what it was like to run a small business – and wow!!!)
  • Word association game for each communication idea – obviously wuold need to be rotated, but this is a simple but effective way of moving people towards more emotional territory as the game goes on
  • Ask people to draw their own images and meanings and feelings that surround the topic.  supply crayons/ markers and give them 5 mintues, and then importantly ask them to explain their drawings
  • Use something called 'Clean Language' which is about keeping the researcher/coach out of the equation with our language patterns and beliefs. Phrases such as …and that's like…? (to elicit the metaphor) … and how does it do that? (use how rather than why as it's inviting a right brain answer, more creative and exploratory) …and can you tell me more about that?  Delving into the response in more detail …and when it's like that….what happens next?  Associations such as ….and if it were a colour, what colour would that be? And then ….and what does that colour remind you of? …..and if it were a shape etc ….and if it were an animal etc
  • Use a collection of Moshi Monsters, stones, shells etc which I use for eliciting metaphors.  Ask them to pick a stone, moshi monster, shell or whatever that in some way reminds them of the brand.  Ask ' So how is (Brand X) like that stone?'.  The point is that that it is nothing like it so they are then projecting their beliefs and thoughts onto it without prejudice
  • Ask respondents at recruitment to source their own images (particulalry useful for an online study but could also be used for traditional studies) and ask them to send/ bring them along
  • Word pick exercise from a list of 20-30 emotionally based words
  • Provide an emotional scale with (say) 5 clear and simple emotions

All of this of course supported by strong basic  moderation skills.  Simply saying ' that's so interesting, tell me more about that?' will be encouraging as will an enquiring look and an occasional nod.  And it is of course not so much the image itself but the reason why they have chosen an image that is most interesting