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Business Communication/questionnaire slanted?


Hi again Sonia,

We had a long questionnaire to assess how well the community feels we are communicating and dialoguing among ourselves and what we think we should do or not do about it.

I initially felt it was probably a bit slanted toward the status quo: Even though we undertook the whole process because many had reported we do not communicate well, most of the questions/statements to be agreed/disagreed with (yes/no or very much/little/sometimes) were phrased: "Our dialogues are going fine." or "Our system of communicating with each other is okay>" or "I do not have any problem approaching the leader of the community" etc.

These yes/ no choices were tallied after all answers were in, and they clearly lean toward: leave everything as is.

But the free comments after each question tell another story: When I added all the "stay as is" comments and all the "change something here" comments, the totals here are in favor of changing many things -- though not by as great a margin as in the yes/no sections.

Nevertheless, the grand total of "stay as is" versus "make changes," combining the answers from both categories (yes/no and comments) is even!

When I brought this up at the followup meeting discussing the results, the one who transcribed the results and posted them claimed that this evenness (parity) is "not real," since one given person may have several suggestions about changing things in one area, so that counts as only one person. Yet those who wanted to keep things as is added very few comments. So they essentially have only one thing to say in most questions, whereas they were given a chance to say more. The ones who see a need for change had many more ideas, and I think they should not be dismissed as being only a few only because fewer people wrote them.

Isn't this a way of slanting the results in favor of "stay as is," since one person may have said "keep the format of the dialogues as is," leaving it at that even though they could add comments; but another person not only says "change the format" but proceeds to add several points of suggestions. Shouldn't this count as a number of several points of suggesting change, not just one simply because it's the same person?

In addition, the main bulletin board only posts the questions with numbers voting yes/no, and none of the comments. A small print note says the comments are available on a table far away, where they are not as thoroughly read as on the bulletin board. Isn't this like hiding responses that are "inconvenient" for the framers of the survey?

What is the usual way, if any, to understand this type of results?

Thanks so much!


Hi Greg

When one does a survey, the questions have to be selected to force the answers and decisions for answers that can be qualified.

As for the data you have now, take the answers at face value and partition them into pro and con categories along the same general topic. Use what you can and hold the rest for individual consideration.

Later on, you might want to take another look at how it was responded to and follow up with another survey to address the top 3 concerns in more detail. Some surveys ask for a written reply VS checking a box. It will tend to vary the responses outside the grid of most desired responses, but may open up more understanding in the short term so you have more qualified direction moving forward.

Let me know how it goes! best of luck,

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Sonya Snyder


I can answer questions pertaining to business marketing communications, both internal, external, reputation management, sales, advertising, public relations, speeches, web content, social media, and more.


I have been a successful marketer in corporate America and also within my own firm for more than 25 years. Please visit my web site for testimonies about my work and results.

With a BA degree in Journalism and Political Science, and also finishing up a MA in Forensic Psychology, I specialize in the motivation and promotion within successful business communications of all kinds.

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