Difficult Conversations

As I write down questions for my mother’s interview, I feel like I was in a minor groove, or perhaps in an illusion of one. Due to the fact that I know the basics of my mother’s story, I feel more comfortable creating questions. At the same time, I am writing several questions for my other interviews. Not knowing who I will meet and what stories they will have, I naturally have fewer questions. On one hand, I am looking forward to meeting these people and learning from their stories. On the other hand, I am nervous.

I have conducted interviews before, once for an English paper on the relationship between humans and animals. For this, I talked with my dad about his experience growing up with a lot of animals back in the Philippines. This flow of this interview is what I expect in my mom’s interview about her experience caring for her mother from afar. The other time I conducted an interview was for the peer writing consulting class. While I didn’t, know much about my peer, the conversation was pretty casual and questions came to me pretty easily

The main difference between these past interviews and the ones I will have soon is the subject: end of life care. It is more serious, and it will require a bit of vulnerability and trust from the interviewees. One of my fears is that no one will be willing to meet with me. The other is that I will not conduct the interviewees sensitively enough. Are there any specific things I could do to uphold respect during these interviews? Right now, I hope that others can trust me through the process. At the same time, I should also maintain trust in the process and the flow of the interviews.

Katrina Soyangco

Katrina is a BCN and writing minor student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She hopes to someday become a physician, although not quite sure what kind yet. She’s not as cool as her older brother but strives to be.

One thought to “Difficult Conversations”

  1. Katrina – I think you naturally have such a caring and trustworthy demeanor that you should have nothing to worry about. But, I hear your concerns. Interviews that pertain to sensitive and personal topics can be scary to conduct and scary to participate in. If I could offer you any advice, it would be to just listen. Focus on your listening and allow your participants to talk freely about their experiences. Offer words of comfort where they are due. Show that you are actively participating in the conversation even when you are not speaking. I was interviewed a few years ago about what it was like to have a mother with a chronic illness and it was very hard to speak about. However, the interviewer made an effort to nonverbally express that they were active listening (nodding their head, facial expressions, etc.). It made a huge difference and I found it easier to talk about sensitive topics when I knew I had an audience that cared. You are a caring person and are going into this with the right intentions/concerns. I have no doubts that you will make your mother and your other interviewees feel safe and comfortable. I am eager to see your project. Best of luck!

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