Excellence in Communication Will Rescue You from Research Mishaps

Catherine F.B. Barnes, MS, CCRP, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine

Can clear and concise communication habits, seasoned with a dash of emotional intelligence, save research professionals from themselves in situations where miscommunication may lead to regrettable results? Catherine F.B. Barnes, MS, CCRP, a personnel development and training specialist at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine, thinks so.

Speaking at ACRP 2022 in Orlando on Sunday afternoon (April 24), Barnes, a former clinical research coordinator, noted, “Our ways of communicating are constantly changing, and that means we have to constantly keep up. I can almost guarantee you that a lot of [study] protocol deviations are due to miscommunication.”

On top of sharing best practices for communicating via e-mail and video conferences for those who manage heavy research workloads, Barnes urged members in her audience to pay attention to their emotional intelligence levels and to never go into a conversation with a negative purpose in mind.

“Everything you say should be because you have your study, group, or initiative’s best interest in mind,” Barnes recommended. This means considering whether what you are about to say is relationship building, explaining a task, or working toward a deliverable—and if it strikes out on those counts, then it is likely best not said at all.

Barnes also offered these tips for her listeners:

  • Be aware of both your tone and pacing when speaking.
  • If verbal communication is not face-to-face, pretend the other person is with you.
  • If verbal communication is face-to-face, pay attention to the other person’s body language.
  • Always conclude conversations by reviewing the expected deliverables.
  • Follow up on important verbal conversations with an e-mail communication to confirm the details.
  • Consider taking notes when appropriate, rather than trying to remember everything precisely.

“We’re all going to mess up [our communications sometime], and that’s OK,” Barnes assured her audience. “What matters is what you do after that,” she noted, such as not improvising an answer to someone’s question that you aren’t confident in or setting a deadline for completing a task that you probably can’t meet.

Author: Gary Cramer

View Highlights from ACRP 2022 >