WHAT IS GROUP DISCUSSION?
Nowadays Group Discussion is being extensively used along with personal interviews for the final selection of candidates. It plays a main role in selecting the best among the best. Having scored high marks, students who get selected for a higher/another course or employment are placed on a par - on equal footing - based on their age, qualification and experience. It becomes necessary to conduct further screening for choosing a few among many. It is here, the Group Discussion plays an important part. It helps in choosing the socially suitable candidate among the academically superior achievers. It is one of the best tools to study the behavioural and attitudinal responses of the participants.
Features of Group Discussion
1. Group Discussion, as the name itself indicates, is a group activity carried out by participating individuals. It is an exchange of ideas among the individuals of a group on a specific topic.
2 It is used as reliable, testing device - mainly as a tool to assess all the candidates in a group at one go -in order to select the best in comparative perspective.
3. Group Discussion is an informal discussion in which participants of the same educational standard discuss a topic of current interest.
4. It is also known as leaderless discussion. It means its aim is to find out the natural leadership level of the candidates. Strictly speaking, no one from the group or outside will be officially designated as leader or president or chairman or anything of the sort. Even the examiner or supervisor who launches the discussion will retire to the background. No one will participate or intervene in the deliberations of the group.
NATURE AND SCOPE
Answer this question.
Why you are now being tested after successfully passing out the written examination and perhaps the interview too?.
You have successfully completed the written examination which tests the knowledge of different subjects as well other capabilities like writing skill, numerical and cognitive ability, test of reasoning , general knowledge etc., Exactly like you, other participants who have come to the final round of selection after thorough screening are of the same qualification. Their age-group, educational qualifications, academic achievements and background experiences are generally quite similar and all of you are of the same level.
It is necessary that you should understand the nature of the G D technique as well as its rationale and purpose. It is very important to know what personality traits the examiners would focus on. If you want to attain success in this challenge test, you should analyze its ingredients and grasp its techniques.
As all the participants in a Group Discussion are rivals, there is bound to be competition and clash of interests among them. Everyone in the group would be keen to top in the discussion, resulting in a good deal of rivalry and manoeuvring for situations of advantage. Thus in the group discussion- in this free for all- you have to manage others and get the cooperation of the group by continuously relating to situations as they keep developing and changing. The dynamics of the group will stimulate each candidate to reveal his/her inherent natural leadership qualities in a spontaneous manner. But only those who remain alert by adapting himself / herself to the changing situations as they emerge, and only those who utilize the opportunities with enterprise, imagination and tact come out successfully.
Under these circumstances, the conduct and behaviour of each candidate will bring to the surface his or her natural leadership, social, dynamic and organizing abilities in a spontaneous manner. Group Discussion is essentially a verbal-oriented performance and you have to talk your way out. With one's gift of the gab or power of expression. GD also requires the verbal display of the knowledge of the candidate. The more your ideas and the more your knowledge of the subject, the more interested, enthusiastic and confident you would become and the more fluent and forceful would be your speech and contribution to the discussion.
HOW IS THE PERFORMANCE JUDGED?
Selection is done based on the impact created by each candidate on the group. Who does get selected?
One who expresses his ideas well.
One who has sound arguments, and shows keenness and interest.
One who has sufficient knowledge of his subject and convinces the group by his argumentative presentation.
One who has a logical and systematic approach.
Above all, it is the one who has the tendency to cooperate and who does the coordination and is liked by the group.
HOW TO START PARTICIPATING?
Group discussion tasks involve many roles for the participants to take up. Choosing any role, each participant can perform multiple functions. Any discussion starts with an initiative made by one. Someone should propose the subject with his/her ideas or procedures. This gets the group started. Since getting started on any task is usually difficult, this is an important role. Inevitably he/ she who does this takes up the presiding or leading role. Further he needs to produce new ideas and perspectives for the continued life of a group.
Okay. You missed the opportunity. Someone, a more tactful candidate has taken up the lead role. What is left for you?
There are still ways.
You can furnish more information by usurping his place. You can politely interfere giving evidence, opinions and relate experiences, personal or others, relevant to the discussion. In fact the quality of the discussion is dependent on the information generated out of the discussion. The more information you provide on the subject, the more prominent your place will become in the group.
Okay. You missed this opportunity too. A vociferous participant has stolen the show. All have nothing to do except to listen. The best way is to play the role of an information seeker thereby making your participation important. By way of asking information from others and seeking clarification one can make his participation felt.
There are various ways to make your presence important. Instead of just presenting information one can strongly present his own point of view. Usually people will not reveal their opinions out of fear of criticism. But an effective presenter expresses the opinions freely and is prepared to invite argument to his side. By stating one's own beliefs, attitudes and judgments, one can take up a main position in the discussion. But you must ensure that your opinion is on the winning side and there is nothing negative in your opinion because a negative opinion is disliked by others.
Another role left for you is this: If you cannot make up your position , prevail upon the opinions of others. The effective participant actively seeks other's attitudes and convictions, especially of those members who are hesitant to speak. Unlike others who are content with presenting their own views and neglecting other opinions you will win the favour of other participants by seeking their opinions.
There is always room for participation if you elaborate the ideas of others and clarify as well as expand the opinions of others through relevant examples and explanations. This is the best way to attract the attention of the rest.
Slow and steady, you can win the race. If you have not yet got an opportunity, take up the role of integrator who classifies the relationships between various facts, opinions and suggestions and integrates the ideas of others thereby assuming the main role of presenter. After a considerable time has been spent on discussion, the need for integrating and summarizing all that transpired so far becomes essential. You can do that by way of orientation, that is, by keeping the group directed toward its goal, by summarizing what has taken place and clarifying the purpose or position of the group. Essentially you insure that the group has a direction and also that it heads in the "right" direction and assumes the role of a leader.
There are some more ways in which the participants can take up group maintenance. You should make your presence important by initiating the group's interpersonal relationships. An encouraging speaker is always liked by fellow participants. He praises and agrees with others providing a warm support to others. But one ought to be careful because he who is a contestant should maintain his position keeping his attention on excelling others. Similarly your sense will be appreciated if it does relieve tension. It will be very much appreciated as you create a relaxed atmosphere by reducing formality and interjecting humour. When tension increases, people become emotionally involved which will not be conducive for smooth discussion. At times the role of pacifying others and providing relief will achieve leadership position. Equally important is the role of one who controls the channel of communication providing proper balance in the amount of participation of each member. You can also gain the leading position by encouraging those who might otherwise not speak while tackling those who tend to dominate over others or monopolize the discussion
What Are To Be Avoided?
There are certain attitudes which act negatively and they spoil the chances of selection. Constantly objecting others and speaking pessimistically will block the smooth flow of discussion. A totally negative attitude prevents progress and people who are always complaining and always dissatisfied will not be found suitable. Equally unsuitable are those who insult and criticize others betraying jealousy or animosity. The aggressive attitude is usually disapproved. Another avoidable attitude is telling irrelevant stories and personal experiences. Motivated by a need for attention, some participants interject comments that call attention to their achievements and successes. They are boastful while trying to appear not to be so.
What is the secret of scoring sure success in a group discussion?
The examiners usually look for a very positive personality with varied potential. During the progress of any group discussion, there will be conflicting views and as a result, heated arguments. The winner has to reveal his positive personality traits and leadership abilities to gain approval for his ideas. Since the test is conducted without a leader, there are opportunities for the individuals who reveal leadership qualities to become group leaders. Seizing the opportunity, the aspirant should impress and influence the group.
The ability to speak is the foremost of all. If one does not speak eloquently and fluently, one cannot create any impact and make his presence strongly felt. One must arouse other's interest by the power of expression. While talking there must be sense. Conveying all information in well-balanced sentences in a manner that reflects a good grasp of the subject will indicate sharp and analytical mind. The delivery should be smooth and catching. Important of all is the tone. It should reflect the humility of a very knowledgeable person. There will be interruptions and they should be borne with patience and a winning smile .It is the ability to hold the attention of group members which matters.
How To Excel Others In A Group?
A good support always results in a good relationship with others, which eventually brings success. Rapport building starts from the very first step. But there must be conflicting opinions which alone will help to look at a problem from various angles and come up with alternatives. As such when conflicting viewpoints arise, they should be resolved by active participation and a positive attitude. One can certainly disagree giving sound and valid reasons for disagreement but one's behaviour should not be disagreeable. One's pleasantries, attitude of cooperation and sharing experiences with others, expressing compliments and gratitude on what others say-all create an attraction towards oneself. Maintaining mutual respect will avoid critical judgment of others. One's efforts at preventing the proceedings from going astray, encouraging non-participants to enter the discussion and tactful handling of conflicting opinions with a view to bringing about consensus will win the admiration of other members of the group. Another important reason of success is being attentive to others' point of views and analysing them in a logical manner even for disagreeing.