We often join in with whatever our participants are doing. Sometimes this means we cook, eat, shop, go on sales calls or help take care of the kids. The important thing is we want to become involved in whatever the participant is doing. We try to blend in and put our participants at ease.
This type of participant observation helps us build rapport and gives us the opportunity to notice potentially important areas for new discovery. By participating in the action we see first-hand the objects, movements, gestures and processes that help us to understand our topic of interest. Coupled with open-ended interviews, participant observation adds dimension and ensures validity of our data.