How to communicate effectively with his investigator, his SSC and pharmacist?
Facing main investigator and his team when performing quality-control as a CRA is not always a comfortable situation. How to communicate confidently and being soft at the same time? During ARC trainings, there is not necessarily a course on the subject: but on the one hand some could be lucky enough as they are naturally good communicators, or on the other hand you directly learn in the field. However, a successful monitoring necessarily mean effective communication. Here are the gestures and words to do to have, or not, in your on site communication.
Look regularly at your interlocutor
During a conversation, look regularly at your main investigator and his team members in the eye. If he is sitting, sit down, if he is standing, stand up. Having eyes at the same height as his will keep an equal footing and maintain a dynamic exchange. It is better to avoid looking down at the floor during sensitive issues because it shows a lack of confidence. This situation may happen if you do not feel comfortable with what you’ve said. When you’re not comfortable, you can fix a point between his eyes, your interlocutor will think you look at him and it will take you less effort.
Respect a social distance between you and your interlocuter
A certain distance is required between you and your interlocutor. We all recognize that there is an acceptable distance between us and others. We are different, and this distance varies from one another. For a constructive and friendly exchange, be careful with this. You may know the proper distance by observing your interlocutor. If he steps back slightly, you’re too close. Take this lesson into account in your future conversations.
Put yourself by three quarters
When you speak with your interlocutor, it is better to be at ¾ position rather than face to face. This will allow being less frontal and will maintain a collaborative atmosphere.
Forget threatening gestures
Avoid pointing a finger on a document, file or anything else. Pointing a finger is often perceived as aggression, especially if you deal with a contentious topic.
Do not cross your arms during a discussion
When we listen to someone during a presentation, it is not a problem to cross your arms. However, during a discussion, this may seem as a barrier and prevent a fluid communication. If you do not know where to put your arms, leave them along your body or use them to emphasize your arguments.
Speak clearly and confidently without aggression
If your voice is hesitant or if your voice is too low your partner will feel that you lack insurance. Now if you are skeptical on what you say, how could the main investigator trust on it? If you speak too loudly, this may seem as an aggressiveness.
If your speed is too fast or too slow, your audience may misunderstand. You must succeed in finding the right balance.
Center the message on yourself when you describe a problem
Use “I” and “me” instead of “you”. Your partner will not feel pointed out and he will focus on the issue. For example, you can say “I noticed that CRFs were not signed” instead of “You have not signed CRFs.”
Use solutions-oriented language
When you expose a problem, you must then immediately suggest solutions. For example, “I recommend you do this or that”, “I offer to help you solve this inconsistency as follows …”
Say what you see or what you know
Do not speculate on what happened or formulate any non-based opinions on facts.
The words to be banned from your vocabulary:
Do not start your questions with “Why“, instead say, “what are, in your opinion, the causes of this situation?”
Always, ever, and always. These words induce negative reactions.
When you ask something, explain why and make sure that your interlocutor agrees
You ask your interlocutors on-site to complete a document or to sign another. Explain them why so that they understand the reason. Do not hide behind the good clinical practices without giving any explanation.
Make sure to ask your interlocutors if they agree with the addressed issues. Do not take for granted their agreement when they do not put objections. You can for example ask Mr. Dupont, do you agree to proceed this way? “. Ask them also to commit using closed questions (requiring brief and final answer) such as: “When could you send this document back? “” Would it be possible for you to send the document back before the end of the week? “.
The written communication must be adapted to the situation
Before sending an email or a follow-up letter that addresses sensitive topics (deviations, GCP violations), meet the principal investigator and his team, talk with them and suggest solutions. In addition, email never solve conflicts. Instead, it turns them worse! (Especially if you put in copy a certain number of person).
Your main investigator must be in copy of the emails you send to his team
You should get the habit from your first communication to put your principal investigator in copy of any information you send to his SSC or Pharmacist about his center. Your principal investigator is responsible for the center and he should be informed. However, in case of an email you judge of no interest, it is clear that this is not necessary.
The CRA profession requires much communication and negotiation skills. A good communication with your center is the key to successful monitoring. To go further, I recommend these books: “Communicate effectively for Dummies”, “non violent communication” (in French:« communiquer efficacement pour les nuls », la « communication non violente ») Marshall B. Rosenberg, the NLP book of Catherine Cudicio (Neuro Linguistic Plrogramming) (the article is in French).
This article is the fruit of my experience and different trainings in communication that I have undertaken. I do not claim to hold the truth in the human sciences. Our behavior must adapt according to our interlocutor to achieve in the same purpose, respect of the other in compliance with the good clinical practice.
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