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Tips on Asking Survey Respondents to Answer Tough Questions

Survey respondents are discouraged when they have to answer tough questions in surveys. The goals of surveys comprise the eliciting of information from people, and the more sincere and open the respondents are, the more reliable the information is. On the other hand, especially when conducting employee satisfaction surveys, difficult questions are more eagerly welcomed by respondents than when they are asked such questions in real time in the workplace. To encourage respondents to answer tough questions with sincerity and without shrinking in repulsion, surveys are a great tool.

A crucial tip for encouraging respondents to answer tough questions is to provide anonymity. Allowing anonymous answers is a simple but extremely effective method of encouraging survey respondents to go on and reply to tough questions. When people are not afraid of repercussions, they are not daunted by having to reply to tough questions.

Another factor which can encourage survey respondents to answer tough questions is to provide them with enough room to explain their answers. With tough questions, multiple choice answers are not the right option to choose, as they do not provide the room for explanation.

Transparency also encourages respondents to go on and reply to tough questions. Respondents feel more relieved when they are told in advance by researchers that some questions are going to be tough. They learn that the respondents realise the difficulty of some questions themselves, so they are reassured. Often employing some humor can help to ease the tension and make answering tough questions a less unpleasant task.

When designing a survey, its authors should not include tough questions only – it will make answering the whole survey an unpleasant experience. Mixing tough questions with easier ones provides relief and leads to greater results.

Finally, the keyword to motivate survey respondents to answer tough questions is incentives. Appreciating the efforts respondents take to answer a survey, especially with hard questions included, is a great motivator. When they learn in advance that their efforts will be rewarded, even though the reward may be tiny, the motivation they have soars.

Tough questions are unavoidable in surveys. However, with the necessary efforts they can be turned into a more pleasant experience for those who have to answer tough questions. All the conditions which can reassure survey respondents should be observed. Anonymity is the most important prerequisite for motivating people, as they do not have apprehensions that their identity will be disclosed – that is especially important in employee satisfaction surveys. Respondents can be greatly encouraged by researchers’ transparency and sense of humor – when both sides realise that some questions are tough to answer, and when that toughness is discussed in a humorous aspect, the difficulty of some questions seems less formidable. Mixing tough questions with easy ones provides variety of difficulty and helps respondents to take a rest after a difficult question by answering an easier one. Finally, incentives are a great way of motivating respondents to answer tough questions.