Recently I was introduced to the work of Naomi Henderson, author of Secrets of a Master Moderator. She talked about the “standard” probes that qualitative research shares with journalism (Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How) along with “Help me understand…”, “Tell me more about…”, or “Please expand on that.” All of these are good, neutral ways to elicit thoughts or opinions from participants.
For those looking to expand their repertoire of probes, Naomi suggests adding “What did you say to yourself when you saw [or heard] this?” I like the recognition of the inner voice that all of us have. It is often unfiltered, and unexpressed, yet it can be a strong driver of behavior and preference. And, although I haven’t yet tried it myself, I believe people would be willing to give voice to their inner thoughts when asked directly in this way.
Naomi also suggests had a reminder to rephrase the loaded “Are you for or against…” to “What’s your take on…” which is a good reminder to keep the questions neutral and free from any hint of bias.
I am looking forward learning more at Naomi’s keynote speech at the Qualitative Research Consultant’s Association conference in January.