Sixteen Words You Can’t Say In A Focus Group

As a market researcher, I’ve moderated hundreds of groups over the past twenty years. While each one is unique and interesting in its way, they do share certain characteristics.

One of those characteristics is that groups tend to work best when there’s positive energy in the room, which can be hard to maintain if people feel like they’re being criticized or judged. We don’t need you to say that ‘everything will be fine.

But we do need you to wait until after the group has ended before you tell us what you think about our ideas. Here are sixteen words you should never say in a focus group.

Rule 7 Focus Words and Thought Groups – YouTube
Key Takeaways
1. The impact of specific words in focus group discussions.
2. Understanding language nuances for more accurate insights.
3. Avoiding biased or leading terminology for unbiased results.
4. Importance of creating a neutral and inclusive atmosphere.
5. Enhancing the quality of qualitative data in focus groups.

1. You’re Wrong

This one is especially important. It’s easy to get caught up arguing with people who disagree with what you’re saying (especially when they’re wrong) but try not to do it.

Being open-minded and respectful is key when engaging with others, whether it’s during the voting season or at work, or among friends and family and that goes for both sides of the table! If someone disagrees with your opinion or perspective, don’t take it personally.

Instead, listen carefully and consider where they might be coming from before responding. You might learn something new about yourself along the way.

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2. It’s Not Going To Work

The phrase “It’s not going to work” is a common response used by focus group participants when they encounter something they don’t like.

It’s important to say this respectfully and to be constructive in your criticism so that the team can take your suggestion into account and possibly change their approach. To make sure that you’re approaching the conversation from a place of honesty, but also being diplomatic and polite, here are some tips:

3. It’s Not Your Fault

The first rule of a focus group is that you can say anything you want. You can talk about how much you love sex, how much you hate sex, how much you love to hate sex, whatever.

But some things will get your group kicked out of the room and sent home with incomplete compensation. Here are 16 words or phrases that will get your group kicked out:

4. That’s A Stupid Idea

You can’t say “That’s a stupid idea” in a focus group. While you may think your opinion is important, it’s not. The client pays for the focus group and therefore gets to decide what they want to hear. If you have a suggestion or criticism of their ideas, keep it to yourself.

It’s also important not to be rude while in the room with other people who are there because they want to help make the product better. You may feel that your opinion holds more weight than others, but remember.

These are real people who work their asses off on making products that benefit society as a whole and if you have been asked by the company why you think that certain thing might be bad for them (or good) then don’t belittle them or their efforts by outright saying “That’s dumb” or something along those lines.

Instead try asking questions about why they believe something should be done one way over another way before expressing your thoughts on which would work better/make better sense from an end-user perspective etc., etc., etc…

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5. Don’t You Think That

This is a dangerous question because it requires an answer. And the answer is likely to be something along the lines of “No.” If you ask someone if they think it will rain tomorrow and they say no, then you’re going to have to have a conversation where you explain why they should change their mind.

This can take some time and energy, especially if your focus group participants are in their 80s or 90s and not feeling particularly chatty. So unless your entire session depends on getting every last thought out of each person’s head and even then I would question whether this is necessary then avoid this phrase at all costs.

6. What Do The Rest Of You Think?

If you don’t want to hear the truth, don’t ask this question. Asking this in a focus group can be a great way to open up the floor and bring out some interesting opinions that you may not have considered before.

However, make sure that when asking it, you’re prepared for the answers especially if they’re negative ones.

7. Are You Sure?

Do you want to know if your product is too expensive? Well, then don’t ask about it during a focus group. You can ask your participants if they think their friends would pay the price of your product or service.

But don’t phrase it as a question like “Do you think $100 is too much for [product/service]?” And here’s another important piece of advice: Never say “I’m sure” unless you’re 100% confident in your answer.

8. I Disagree

While disagreeing is an important part of a focus group, it’s important to be prepared if you feel like disagreeing. If you can’t support your point of view, then don’t bring up the topic at all. It’s best to save such a discussion for after the meeting when all parties can have time and space to process what has been said.

9. We Tried That Already

This is a good way to get the boss off your back without being rude. When he says something that’s been thought of before, say “We tried that already.” It will make him think that you are thinking about what he says and gives him a chance to stop asking questions about things he knows will be rejected anyway.

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10. But What Do You Think?

But what do you think? It’s a question that comes up every time you participate in a focus group. The truth is, as human beings we all want to be honest. We want to be positive, realistic, empathetic, and respectful but perhaps most of all we want to feel understood.

And while it may seem natural and easy to speak your mind when surrounded by strangers who don’t know you personally and can never judge you for what you say, this type of situation is quite rare (and not just because focus groups are usually conducted by trained moderators).

So why do people still feel compelled to share their opinions freely? The answer lies in how deeply rooted honesty is as an American value: our society places such importance on being forthright as individuals that even if they didn’t have anything nice to say about something they would probably still come out with it anyway.

This isn’t necessarily bad being open-minded means being able to see any situation from different points of view before coming up with our conclusions about things like politics or religion; however, there are times when oversharing can backfire on us instead of opening new doors for a conversation like we’d hoped.

11. It Can’t Be Done

This is a common phrase that is used in many different situations. The tone of voice you use when you say it can be important, as well as the words that follow after the phrase. The phrase can be said positively or negatively, and it can also be used as a statement or a question. 

For example A: “I think we should do something with this idea.” B: “We can’t do that; it’s too expensive.” (negative) A: “It couldn’t have been easy for them to make all those decisions,” he said sympathetically.

” (positive) A: “You’re going to need more money than that if you want people to buy into this project.” B: “How much more will we need?” C: “You’re going to have to work harder than ever before if we want this job finished by next week.” D: “Is there any way we could get everything done on time?

” E: “I’m not sure why anyone would consider doing something like this again after last year’s disaster!” F: “Has anyone else had trouble getting started on [this task]?”

12. Don’t You Know

This is an extremely common mistake. We all want to be the expert who knows everything, but sometimes we don’t know what we think we know. If you do this, it might come off as condescending or haughty and that’s not a great way to start a conversation.

It’s especially important in focus groups because you’re never going to have enough time to cover everything there is about your subject matter. You may need some help from other participants or the moderator if it seems like no one else has anything else to say about something specific (such as “what are some of your favorite movies?”).

13. Well, If You Knew What We’re Trying To Accomplish, You Would Know Why That Won’t Work

This is one of the worst things you can say to someone in a focus group. It’s also a great way to make sure your opinion doesn’t get asked for again because there’s no reason for anyone to continue taking your advice if they feel like you do not understand them or have other intentions.

Instead, listen and try to understand their point of view, then work with them towards an answer that works for both of you.

14. The Last Person Who Said That Was Fired On The Spot (Even If It Is True)

I know what you’re thinking: “I’m just trying to be a good employee and give feedback.” But in a focus group, no matter how true the statement is or how important it may seem, don’t say anything that could get you fired on the spot even if that’s exactly what happened to someone else who spoke up.

I’ve seen it happen more than once, and even though this kind of bad behavior might make for great TV drama, it will likely get you (and maybe your friends) fired from this job too.

So please learn from these mistakes and keep them in mind when joining any kind of focus group. If they ask if they can record your voice or video camera footage during meetings so they can share their findings with others later on? Take care not to say anything that could get anyone else fired either!

15. I Hate To Play Devil’s Advocate But Here Goes

Do you know how people say, “There are two sides to every story”? Well, there are. But if you’re in a focus group, you only get one side of the story. And that side is the company’s side. They’re paying for your time and expertise, so their ideas are going to be the ones that matter most they should be the only ones that matter most.

That’s why it’s important not to be like the person who always disagrees with everything everyone else says or thinks about a product being tested out. Sometimes when you have an opinion about something (like how much you hate cereal).

It can come across as less than genuine if your opinion is so strong that it doesn’t match up with other people in the group who also dislike cereal or maybe even love it! In other words: don’t be “the devil’s advocate.”

Skepticism plays a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of your marketing research findings. Learn how to approach research with a critical mindset in our discussion on applying healthy skepticism to market research.

16. Yes, Sir/Ma’am. No, Sir/Ma’am. Right Away, Sir/Ma’am! [But Only If The Boss Is In The Room]

It’s simple: you need to show respect for your clients and colleagues at all times. You don’t want to risk losing their trust or disrespecting them by saying something out of line during a focus group.

These words are commonly used in everyday conversation and should be avoided at all costs if you want to come across as professional in front of clients or other colleagues who may be present during your session.

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Final Thoughts

Let’s face it: focus groups are hard. You need to be a great judge of character, have incredible willpower, and above all else, be able to hold your tongue when you disagree with someone. 

The last thing you want is for your group to think that you’re biased or disrespectful to their opinions because that will make them less likely to participate fully in the discussion. Keep these tips in mind next time you run one.

Further Reading

Explore these resources for more insights related to marketing research:

Unlocking the Power of Focus Groups: Learn about the benefits and techniques of conducting effective focus groups for in-depth insights into your target audience.

Enhance Your Language Use with These Tips: Refine your communication skills by understanding and using words and phrases correctly, leading to more impactful marketing messages.

Deepening Your Understanding of Consumer Behavior: Delve into the study of consumer behavior to uncover the psychology and motivations behind purchasing decisions.

People Also Ask

What Is A Focus Group?

A focus group is a small group of people who come together to discuss and share their opinions about a product or service. The discussion is led by a moderator, who guides the conversation and keeps track of what’s being said.

Why Do We Need Them?

The purpose of a focus group is to gather important information about your customers. By asking questions and listening carefully, you can learn what your customers think about your products or services, how they use them, and what they would like to see in future versions.

Focus groups are useful for gathering information from people who represent a broad range of ages, races, income levels, and geographic areas. They’re also good for getting feedback from different kinds of users of the same product or service.

For example, parents with kids at home versus those without kids at home or people who use your product frequently versus those who use it only occasionally.

Who Conducts Focus Groups?

Focus groups are conducted by professional focus group moderators who have been trained in qualitative methods. They are often conducted by market research companies that have an established track record in conducting focus groups for clients.

A focus group can also be conducted as part of an internal research project within a company if it is large enough to hire its staff of experts on qualitative approaches; however, this is less common than hiring outside consultants such as market research firms.

What Is The Difference Between A Focus Group And An Interview?

A focus group is a qualitative research method in which a moderator meets with a small group of people (usually 8 to 10), who are selected to represent the attitudes, opinions, or behaviors of larger populations.

The moderator asks the participants questions about their attitudes and beliefs and then uses those responses to explore similar topics. An interview is also a qualitative research method that focuses on one-on-one interactions between researchers and participants.

Why Do We Need A Focus Group?

Focus groups help us understand what consumers feel about a particular product or service, but they can also help us understand how consumers make decisions.

If you’re looking for insights into how your customers make decisions, you’ll want to use this method to get feedback from them directly and if you’re looking for ways to improve your product or service offerings, it’s important to know what consumers think about them now so that we can make changes in the future.

Why Can’t We Say Certain Words In A Focus Group?

The reason this is important is that a focus group is intended to be an accurate representation of a larger population.

If you are being paid to participate in a focus group, it means that the company is interested in learning about your opinion on their product or service, and they want the information to be as accurate as possible so that they can make informed decisions about their business.

If someone were allowed to use offensive language during a focus group, they would probably not represent the opinions of most people who would buy the product or use the service.

For example, if someone were asked about how they feel about having a new cell phone plan offered by their provider, and they responded with “I hate my dumb phone,” that person could very well be considered unrepresentative of other potential customers for this new plan.

Why Should I Go To A Focus Group?

Focus groups give you access to real people’s thoughts and opinions which is invaluable when creating new products or services. You’ll also be able to get feedback on existing products or services that will help shape their future iterations.

Focus groups help companies understand their customers better, which helps them provide better service and products in return.

What Do I Need To Participate In A Focus Group?

Before attending a focus group, make sure you’re comfortable talking about yourself for several minutes at a time with strangers. That said, most focus groups just ask for basic demographic information (age range and gender) so we can make sure everyone has an equal chance at participating. We also ask that all participants have