Chapter 11. Facilitating Research

In a high-IQ job pool, soft skills like discipline, drive, and empathy mark those who emerge as outstanding.

Daniel Goleman

The most unpredictable part of research, especially qualitative research, is people. Carrying on a conversation with a complete stranger while actively listening doesn’t come easy. The skills needed to perform this are known as facilitation. Despite many books sharing techniques, the best way to learn facilitation skills is through trial and error. The goal of this chapter is to equip you with the basics to ease your learning in the field.

Soft Skills Are Hard

Some of the most important skills needed to be a successful researcher aren’t taught in the classroom. These are soft skills, since they relate to social and interpersonal aspects instead of workflow or tasks. While degree programs and vocational institutions are great at teaching students how to program computers, engineer machines, and recode genetic material, they often fail at teaching the skills needed to hold a conversation or connect with another human being—whether that means introducing yourself at networking events or giving formal presentations to a group.

These skills aren’t taught because, to be frank, they are hard to teach and even harder to learn. There’s a lot of trial and error involved in picking up soft skills, and an ongoing feeling of failure doesn’t interest a lot of students.

What Are Soft Skills?

Before we get deeper into the skills needed to become ...

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