How to emerge successful in a Group Discussion

N.Vijayagopalan

 

Group Discussion is a method that has got strongly established in evaluating the personality of candidates appearing in job interviews and in some competitive examinations.  A group of participants are made to discuss  a specific topic or subject for a limited time and the participants are assessed individually.

 

Group Discussion forms an important stage of admission process in top B-schools. Apart from the knowledge and communication skills, candidates are judged on the basis of their attitude, behavior, temperament, mannerisms and etiquettes. Candidates are required to present their personality traits in a limited time. A successful group presentation demands a certain degree of decorum.

 

Many companies and institutes are making Group Discussion as the first criterion for screening the candidates for face-to-face interviews. Group Discussion is often used for mass elimination as well. In many cases, Group Discussion selection criteria are based on actual company requirements.

 

There are a few purposes behind a group discussion:

 

  1. It helps a candidate to shed away his / her shyness and bring his / her viewpoint amidst all.
  2. It stimulates the candidate to think in a different, new way.
  3. It helps the candidate in understanding his/ her own strengths and weaknesses.
  4. It acts as an aid in expansion of the knowledge of the candidate.
  5. It helps the candidate to analyse the social or economic issues more logically.

 

What skills are judged in group discussion?

 

  1. How good you are at communication with others.
  2. How you behave and interact with group.
  3. How open minded you are.
  4. Your listening skill.
  5. How you put forward your views.
  6. Your leadership and decision-making skills.
  7. Your analytical skill and subject knowledge.
  8. Problem solving and critical thinking skill.
  9. Your maturity and flexibility
  10. Your attitude and confidence.

 

Here are certain DO’s and DON’Ts to keep in mind and follow while participating in a Group Discussion so as to enhance your score. These are some basic yet very vital tips that will help you feel a bit more confident about yourself and make you ready to appear for the Group Discussion.

 

DO’s

 

  1. Dress formally and arrive on time.
  2. Walk to your allocated seats in a calm and composed manner.
  3. Sit with a straight and confident posture.
  4. Be confident but not arrogant.
  5. Keep a pen and a notepad. It makes you look organized.
  6. Be keenly attentive while others are speaking. Pay attention while others are speaking. This will enable you contribute to the discussion in a positive way and get involved in the group positively.
  7. Jot down the relevant points and list down your own points.
  8. Organize your thoughts before you speak. This will help you express with confidence and clarity.
  9. Maintain a balance in your tone while objecting to the points made by other participants.
  10. Respect the opinion of others. Agree and acknowledge what you find good points expressed by others. Use phrases like “What you have said here, sheds light on another aspect...”.
  11. Express your disagreement in a polite, dignified and convincing manner. Use phrases like “You have a good point but there’s another aspect to it… ”.
  12. Keep your body language positive. Table thumping, pointing fingers, looking here and there, etc, are negative gestures.
  13. If someone becomes openly antagonistic to you, and says things directly contradicting your points of view or makes personal attack, stay calm and relaxed. A situation like this is a good opportunity to demonstrate your conflict handling skills and maturity.
  14. If the counter-argument is valid, concede to the point gracefully using statements like "I think you have an important point there that I did not think of".
  15. If the counter-argument is not valid, use statements like “let’s seek the opinion of other participants” and turn to others, seeking their opinion with statements like "we seem to have different views here…what do you feel?"
  16. If the attack is directed against you as a person, then the best strategy is to just ignore it and get on with the discussion, without any animosity towards the attacker. This is hard to do but if you manage, it will be the best advertisement for your maturity.
  17. "Losing" an argument is not bad - even if you are convinced about the correctness of your stand, don't stand on it - let the other person "win" it by saying "I know that you may disagree, but my point is…, however, we need not keep debating this, maybe we need to proceed". Losing an argument does not lead to loss of points. Sometimes, it helps demonstrate your flexibility and maturity.
  18. Be as natural as possible. Do not try to be someone you are not. Be yourself. In an attempt to be someone else, your opinions will not be portrayed.
  19. Be assertive yet humble. You need to stick to your values and beliefs, but learn to respect the values and opinions of others too.
  20. Initiate the GD. Grab the opportunity to speak first, i.e. to start the Group Discussion with your opinion. It generally leaves a good impression on the evaluator, but take the move only if you have complete knowledge of the subject.
  21. Let others speak. Facilitate contribution from others instead of going on and on with only your opinionated view. Remember, it is a group discussion. Allow others to speak too. Acknowledge that everyone has something valuable to say.
  22. Make an eye contact with all the participants. It creates more room for conversation. Also keep nodding, when others speak, it shows receptivity.
  23. Be an active and dynamic participant. The examiner wants to hear you speak. So do put forth your views.
  24. Be positive and prepare your thoughts well but do not be over-confident.
  25. Think well before you speak. You are being heard and judged upon.
  26. When raising an objection to a point kept by another speaker, back it up with a solid reason to get the point across.
  27. Use quotes, facts and figures, statements, everyday life examples to express a clear chain of thoughts. Also it might leave a good impression on the examiner and help you score well.
  28. Be appreciative. Appreciate valid points, respect antagonistic views, keep your points further and encourage a debate around it. Be articulate. When speaking in a GD, your job is to articulate your point of view in a way that is easy for others to comprehend. Use easily understandable words. Structure your thoughts and present them logically.
  29. Present analytically. Analyse the topic in your mind and present your views analalytically.
  30. Speak politely and clearly. Use simple and understandable words while speaking. Express your feelings calmly and politely.
  31. If by any means group is distracting from the topic or goal then simply take initiative to bring the discussion on the track. Make all group members aware that you all need to come to some conclusion at the end of the discussion. So stick to the topic.
  32. Be confident. Keep positive body language. Show interest in discussion.
  33. Speak sensibly. Do not speak just to increase your speaking time. Don’t worry even if you speak less. Your thoughts should be sensible and relevant instead of irrelevant speech.
  34. No need to go into much details. Some basic subject analysis is sufficient. No need to mention exact figures while giving any reference. You have limited time, so be precise and convey your thoughts in short and simple language.

 

DON’Ts

 

  1. Do not  deviate yourself from the topic. Talking about unrelated things puts a bad impression.
  2. Do not use negative comments like ‘‘this point is wrong" or "your argument doesn't make any sense."
  3. Do not try to dominate other participants. It is a discussion and not an argument or debate.
  4. Do not interrupt the speech of other participants and wait till they complete. You can intervene, if someone else is going on an irrelevant track.
  5. Do not repeat a point, or be lengthy or irrelevant. Do not talk too much. Starting a discussion creates a good impression for sure but if you talk endlessly then you are bound to speak out of context and lose points for it.
  6. Do not raise your voice too much or shout.  Speaking doesn't mean you have to shout your lungs out. Business partners often respect those who put across their views firmly but politely. You will be judged on those parameters.
  7. Do not keep silent for a long time. If talking too much can kill your points, saying nothing ruins everything. Even if the topic is out of context or out of your understanding, try to make some good, valid points there.
  8. Even if you don’t agree with the other person’s thoughts, do not snatch their chance to speak. Instead make some notes and clear the points when it’s your turn.
  9. Do not be jargonic or metaphoric.
  10. Do not be too aggressive if you are disagreeing with someone.

 

Group Discussions are never to be considered as a big hurdle or something which is very complex, as many candidates tend to do. The DO’s and DON’Ts enumerated above would help you a lot in confidently participating in a Group Discussion and emerging successful.

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