enquiries@rodlaird.co.uk »
Freephone 0800 612 0910
Freefax 0800 612 0920
Now taking bookings
Bookmark and Share

Series 6 - Focus groups: How to deal with tricky situations (10 Jun 19)

What to do when someone becomes upset and distressed during a focus group

It is not surprising that some people get upset during a focus group as some topics can be sensitive.

Even when you donít consider that the topic is sensitive, the discussion may raise issues or recollections that can distress some people.

If a member of your focus group seems uneasy or upset you can try point out the sensitive nature of the conversation to the group so as to acknowledge that you realise a subject may be hard to discuss.

It is better not to single out the person who seems upset when you say this, otherwise they may feel put on the spot. You are recognizing and acknowledging more broadly the sensitive nature of the discussion and saying it is ok to be upset.

Avoid comforting them as often people who look upset might find it hard to say why they are upset. But generally it is best if people can talk about it, as often they will actually be happy to admit they are upset.

Surprisingly people will also often talk through their tears in a group setting.

It might seem trivial but if you are aware itís a potentially sensitive subject, have some tissues handy.

You the moderator may look sympathetic but you must remain impartial and not divulge your own opinion.

Other group members may become very supportive and rally around by saying they have had similar experiences in their lives. Again as the moderator you have to decide if itís relevant to what you are doing.

If someone is weeping, then this is very different from someone who is tearful.

Like to read more or make a comment? Log in or register below

Why not join the discussion!

Or even better still offer your own advice and tell us about things that others can learn from.

We moderate comments lightly so bear with us and we'll get your thoughts listed as soon as we can.

You must be logged in to post comments.

Not registered yet? Simply fill in the box below.

Forgotten your password?

Like to have access to this and hundreds of other articles like it? Register now!

Just pop your details in the form below, and you'll have full access to our library as well as receiving the free articles you have requested.

Research and evaluation
Resident involvement
Community involvement
Patient involvement
Communications & marketing
Equality and diversity
Community safety
All of these
Your work email

Already subscribed? Want to manage your account? »

Log in


Register now to benefit from hundreds of free hints, tips, articles and interviews

Your email address:

Contact us»

Latest Twitter updates

Other articles you might enjoy:

20 things that can go wrong with your focus group

How a slightly different team for community focus groups may yield better results

How to commission focus group training

How to conduct focus groups with non English speakers 

How to conduct focus groups with older people

How to get your focus group off to a good start

How to make certain that your focus group tells you genuinely useful information

How to write a report on your focus group findings

How to write and get the most out of a Focus Group Topic Guide Ė with a step-by-step example

The big freeze: what to do when the group decides not to talk to you

The loudmouth problem: how to stop dominant people ruining your efforts

The quiet ones: simple ways to ensure they contribute, too

What sort of person makes a good focus group moderator?

What to do when people talk too much or too little

What to do with someone who looks bored during a focus group

What to do when someone becomes upset and distressed during a focus group