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How to be Successful in a Group Discussion

Education has changed its perspective, since the evolution of industries across the globe. First, there was a need for the humans to learn the three Rs, meaning reading, writing and arithmetic. But as industrialization spread its tentacles all over the world, the need for technical and professional studies was felt. It heralded the mushroom growth of institutions, catering to the growth of technical and professional studies.

In an over competitive, difficult and complex work atmosphere ,managers in the industries always felt the need for dynamic, intelligent and challenge loving youngsters  . The recruiters all over the world began hunting the campuses of all the renowned institutions, where they could easily spot new talents and groom them into  the atmosphere of their own organizations.

There were days when selection process just involved two processes; the aptitude test and face-to-face interview, which was known as the viva-voce interview. With the increase in number of students and due to complications in work culture, the industrial psychologists introduced another test in their selection process. Thus, the concept of group discussion was born.

Although students fear that participating in a group discussion is really a tough affair,understanding this subject  makes it very easy to speak successfully in the group discussion.

What mistakes do the naïve participants usually commit in a group-discussion?

  • The inexperienced candidates feel nervous when the selectors begin the group discussion. The result is that, they speak whatever they feel, on the spur of the moment. There are companies who invite psychologists, who deliberately make the candidates nervous.
  • Candidates try to outdo each other while speaking. The result is a din that one hears, as  in a fish or vegetable market.
  • Participants make use of very aggressive body language.
  • A common mistake helpful in disqualifying a candidate, is speaking either in extreme favor or against the assigned topics.
  • Lastly, absence of proper language, cordiality and good sense of presentation.

What is a group discussion and why is it held?

In an organization, the newcomers have to be trained about how to speak and behave in a group. Group behavior of an individual is an important determinant in his selection. If the attitude of an individual is extremely overbearing, then he can not be deemed fit to work in an organization.

No job in the world can be successfully executed, unless it is properly planned and synergistically done by a group.

group discussionWith the decentralization of labor and emergence of specialization in an organizational culture, functions of the management are divided in four parts. Those are Marketing, Production, Finance and Human resource. These four divisions of work force in any organization need to work in perfect balance and symmetry of official decorum and coordination. These have department heads and the department heads call their executives and managers for meeting, for that day’s schedule in the morning. The group discusses about their planning of the day and in turn the department heads brief their top man known either by the designation of chief executive officer or managing director.

The difference between a group discussion and a group debate

In a debate, one shows his arguments in a strong manner, so that others present will be convinced. Literally, speaking in a debate one has to sell his points in a realistic way. But it is not so in a group discussion. The selectors judge the following qualities of a candidate in a group discussion;

  • Is the person capable of  presenting his points with the correct body language
  • If  he is capable of contributing to the topic with logic and clarity
  • Whether his opinions are balanced without extremeness
  • Whether his tone is audible and without any over excitement
  • Whether he prepares himself before the presentation, by writing down the points of the topic assigned
  • How he takes the lead from other speakers to speak
  • How he contributes in a diplomatic way to the consensus, that the group is trying to have that day, without unnecessarily opposing others
  • Whether he abides by the group’s spirit.

What the group does in a group discussion?

Normally in a corporate office of an organization, time is very precious. The executives and managers of a particular department discuss the program of the day within half an hour of time and there the task is to come to a group consensus.

There is no time to fight and argue.

Everybody present has to participate and contribute to the topic in a constructive way so that the consensus derived from the discussion shall be very cogent, full-fledged and fruitful in every aspect.

How to participate in a group discussion?

Normally, the topics assigned by the selectors in campuses vary. They could be mainstream topics like current affairs or general knowledge. Also, they might be on offbeat topics like legalization of prostitution etc., They may also include issues on ancient subjects.

group discussionUsually, the candidates are made to sit either on the sides of an oval shaped table with the selectors judging them from the four corners of the room. They can also be seated on a horizontal line or half square shape and the selectors would sit facing the candidates. Time assigned for discussion is usually half an hour.

  • Once the topic is assigned, one should write down the relevant points for presentation on a piece of paper or note-pad.
  • He should skillfully take the turn in speaking. For instance, if one is speaking then he can intelligently push his view points by at first supporting the speaker’s words then incorporating what he has to say.
  • One should always abide by the majority of opinions and group’s decision.
  • He should always steer clear of the controversial points.
  • He should in no case make any extreme judgment of the facts and always say balanced things. Suppose the topic is terrorism in the world; the opinion of a candidate must not be that terrorists have to be publicly hanged to death. One can say that the Police and Army should do whatever necessary to keep law and order and the government should take enough initiatives to hold talks with the terrorists to solve the fundamental issue of terrorism. Such an opinion is an example of balanced opinion making.
  • He should speak in an audible voice without over excitement and fuss.
  • He should maintain right eye contact with others and maintain body language without the rude gestures like poking a hand at others or sneering at others’ opinions.
  • He should speak at least three to four times in the entire discussion
  • If he finds that someone is trying to disturb him, then he can dissuade him by saying politely-“excuse me, I have not finished my point’.
  • He should give cogent, constructive opinions and ideas supporting the viewpoints of other speakers, not bitter arguments which will disturb the consensus, which the group is trying to arrive at.

Also read The Psychological preparation before an interviewPreparing for Aptitude Tests, How to write the best resume?

Srikant Mohanty


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