Practical Approach To Group Discussion - Online Article



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 behavioral and attitudinal responses of the participants.

Rightly speaking, Group Discussion is more a technique than a conventional test. In fact it is one of the most important and popular techniques being used in a number of personality tests. It is a technique or a method used for screening candidates as well as testing their potential. It is also designed as a situation test wherein a sample of a candidate’s group worthiness and potential as a worker comes out quite explicitly.

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 maneuvering 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 I 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 behavior 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.

What Is Tested In-Group Discussion?

The rationale of the GD technique rests on the principle that leadership qualities with knowledge and power of expression are essential to achieve the results or objectives in all group endeavors. The leadership quality of one can nowhere be more clearly revealed than in a group discussion. For instance, see the difference between GD and other forms of testing.

There is a considerable difference between public speaking and GD. In public speaking, the audience merely judges and passes a verdict on the speaker. Nobody in the audience competes with you. They listen to what the speaker says but do not compete with the speaker. They listen to what the speaker says, but do not discuss the subject with equal rights as does the speaker.

The same is the case with an interview. In an interview, a candidate has to deal with the interviewer who asks questions to which the interviewed responds. He will be given ample opportunities as the interviewer is interested in the answers. In a debate or lecture, the candidate is given sometime to think and marshal his ideas and the chairman or the presiding officer will ensure that no one intervenes. The interview focuses on personality traits wherein the interviewers ask well directed questions to assess the overall personality of a candidate.

Yet these tests by themselves are insufficient, as they do not test the group worthiness of a candidate, a quality that is an important component for success in all vocations.

What Is The Desirable Attitudes In GD?

The participants should adopt two important attitudes, which alone will facilitate a productive and satisfying outcome in any Group Discussion:

  1. All participants in the group must accept responsibility for the smooth conduct of the group activities. This orientation means that each member takes on leadership responsibilities even though he is not entrusted any such a role. Instead of passively waiting for someone else to do what has to be done. everyone must actively seek and accept responsibility. In an effective group discussion, there are no absolute followers but different levels and kinds of leaderships and these leaderships keep fluctuating.
  2. Another important attitude is open-mindedness -the willingness of the candidate to consider a broad range of ideas and suggestions from others. He must be flexible and must be open to change. Instead of taking rigid stands on issues, the flexible member tries to adapt to the best interests of the group. This requires objectivity-in order to make unbiased, impartial judgments. This does not mean that you completely suppress your subjective and emotional reactions. You try to balance them with objective observations. This requires maintaining a proper perspective, that is, either becoming too involved in problems to maintain objectivity or remaining too distant and uninvolved to be fully unaware of their nature.
  3. Finally the participant with the orientation of equality should not nourish notions of superiority and must realize that the fellow participants are equal to him/her in all aspects. You also get an opportunity of noticing and comparing the verbal ability, depth of knowledge, extent of ideas, logical reasoning and the convincing capacity of others and this should enable you to prepare yourself to match with them.

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 others 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 favor 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 humor. 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 .11 is the ability to hold the attention of group members which matters.

How Can A Topic Be Analyzed?

While speaking on given topic it is necessary to analyze the topic considering its salient aspects and finding out a well reasoned solution. One must think of Sound arguments in support of one’s point of view and a logical presentation of them. It is necessary to consider the pros and cons of the given problem. Use of available information including those of others is important. Synthesizing different points of view and answering them in such a way as supportive of one’s case is talent which must be cultivated. Considering an issue or a problem in a broader angle putting the immediate concerns in broader issues. thereby displaying the extent of knowledge is a successful technique. But one ought to be careful without becoming irrelevant or boastful.

Avoiding any repetition of ideas or arguments is important. Keeping within the scope of the given subject one must contribute towards raising the intellectual level of the discussion.

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 ones behaviour should not be disagreeable. Ones 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 analyzing them in a logical manner even for disagreeing.

Reasons For Selection: A Few Comments

(Comments at two stages of one’s participation)

Beginning: No1 has displayed excellent leadership ability and handled an explosive situation with tact and understanding. He has found an acceptable and workable solution by displaying excellent resourcefulness. He avoided an open split and confrontation by voluntarily surrendering the privilege of being got elected as chairman by majority vote. Thus he has given greater importance to group needs than for his own selfish requirements. also won 7 by persuasion and by personal example.

Ending: A brilliant and outstanding exposition presented by No1 in admirable and extremely convincing manner. His approach is objective and balanced. This candidate, who had displayed consistently remarkable leadership qualities and coordinating ability earlier, now reveals intellectual maturity, balanced judgment and excellent power of persuasion. Socially he is well adjusted and has the resourcefulness to cope with difficult individuals and situations. To sum up, he is an outstanding candidate with high level of leadership qualities. He is specially commended and selected with top ratlng.No.3 Is an intelligent, imaginative and dynamic leader. His approach has throughout been positive and constructive He is also able to get along well and harmoniously with all. He can judge and assess others correctly and wins over everyone with tact and understanding. His enterprising attitude, keenness to shoulder responsibility and capacity to compromise successfully with crisis and obstacles enable him to establish himself as the natural leader. In this group he is the outstanding coordinator and leader. He is selected with top grading No3 has grasped the subject very well and explained its scope very lucidly. He has gone about his task with a purpose, plan and system, revealing organization and method. He spoke to the point and made a strong impact on the group. He is decisive, enterprising and takes reasonable risks. We saw that he took a prominent part during the early Stages and made useful contribution. He has good material and selected with high grading.

No 4 has readily and cheerfully accepted the responsibility and made good use of the opportunity given to him. He has consistently been displaying initiative, drive, enterprise and imagination. Now he has known excellent grasp of the subject and explained facts of a sensitive nature in an easy and effortless manner. He has created a very Strong and favorable impact on the group with his conduct, ideas and example. As was shown by No3, the group is eager to hear him further. But as a disciplined organizer and planner, No4 wants the discussion to proceed as decided earlier, He is more team oriented and keen to promote group activity. His approach is positive and contribution constructive. He has displayed high degree of leadership throughout. Selected with high rank rating No 7 displayed initiative, urge and drive and shouldered full responsibility to launch the group on its objective. He is gifted in all spheres-intellectual, organizational, dynamic and social He has extensive knowledge. He has pressed his case from a new angle and succeeded fully in carrying the audience with him. He is bold and faces the challenge with courage and determination, intelligence and imagination. Selected and accorded top rating.

Reasons For Rejection

The keenness and eagerness of No3, his readiness to shoulder responsibility, his confidence to face the group and his initiative are no doubt his plus points. But his approach is selfish, authoritarian and annoying to others. He is too assertive and very dominating. His brazen attempt to bulldoze others will provoke them and result in quarrels and clashes. These, in turn, will hinder group activity and realization of the common goal objective, which is successful completion of the discussion within the time allotted. A leader or manager must carry his teammates with them and not antagonize them. No3, unfortunately, appears to be lacking in this very important aspect. REJECTED.

No2 does not know much about the subject He has the gift of the gab and hence waffles aimlessly. There is no logic or rationale in what he said he lacks organization, system and order. He talks at random, jumping from one topic to another in fits and starts. Earlier we saw him acting rigidly and selfishly .He will cause friction and quarrels in the team, behaving like a bull in china shop. REJECTED.

No5 had remained aloof and silent throughout. He is dull and devoid of ideas. He admits his limitations but does not show any interest or determination to overcome them. He wastes opportunities and shies away from responsibility. Being weak and docile and unenterprising, he will not be able to come up as a leader. REJECTED.

No8 This candidate is a mere camp follower without any initiative, urge, drive or originality. He finds excuses to avoid and shirk responsibility. He has throughout been disinterested, distant and aloof and has not made any contribution to group activity. An extremely dull and insipid individual who Will prove to be a great burden to the organization. REJECTED.

No.1 wastes the opportunity offered to him on a platter. On his own also he did not display and initiative and drive. He pleads ignorance and confirms that he lacks ideas. This is a general knowledge topic and anyone familiar with current events should be able to make some interesting contribution to the discussion. He offers excuses and prefers to be the last speaker. If he does not know, he can at least ask a knowledgeable colleague In the group to explain the nature and scope of the topic first. On the other hand, he straightway shirks responsibility. He is a dull and insipid candidate who lacks self-confidence and leadership potential. REJECTED.

Sulks and refuses to cooperate. He also wastes the good Opportunity offered to him. He is rigid arid fails to adapt himself to the situation. He has good expressive faculty but his ideas are confused and overlapping. He waffles unnecessarily instead of going directly to the point. His ego and pride prevent him from extending cooperation and establishing rapport. Because of his personal quarrel with No.6, he refuses to the half of the group. With this marked negative qualities. No.2 will be a serious hindrance to the team. REJECTED.

This candidate has understood the subject and has the self-confidence to the challenge No.5 and produces quite a few original and convincing arguments to support his stand. But he still continues his collision path. He prefers to attack those who disagree with him in a brutal and direct manner. He quarreled with No.2 violently earlier. Now he repeats the same behaviour pattern. It is doubtful whether he could improve by training REJECTED.

This candidate lacks initiative and originality. His ideas are limited he has nothing useful to contribute. He is afraid to take any firm decision and commit himself. He has wasted the opportunity afforded to him. With such marked negative qualities he cannot make the grade as a strong leader. REJECTED A fairly active and well- motivated group in which Nos.7 and 5 display natural leadership qualities and prove successful in launching the group on its task. They overcome the obstacles which they encounter with imagination, speed and tact. This GD being a team work, it cannot be executed without someone assuming the responsibilities of a leader and coordinator. No's 1, 2 and 3, though spoke among them, did not come toward to shoulder this responsibility on there own initiative. On the other hand No.7 displayed natural leadership abilities and assumed the responsibility to launch the group on its task, on his own No.5 who gave excellent support to No.7, also displays good leadership qualities. We find No2 to be hesitant, diffident and overcautious. No.1 appears to be lacking in ideas and he is unable to half No.2 actively. Without admitting his limitations No.1 tries to evade the issues or pass the buck on the others. No3has acted in light vein which indicates certain amount of irresponsibility Nevertheless he offers to be the opening speaker. Hence, he has to be watched further, Nos.4, 6and 8 have so far remained as silent spectators.

In this group Nos.3 and 7 initially wanted to assume leadership and made their debuts. But they bitterly quarreled between themselves as to who should be the leader. Unfortunately, both lacked tact and social cohesiveness. They were also rigid and selfish. Team spirit and cooperation on the part of both were sadly lacking and they were obstructing the progress of group activity. On the other hand, No.1 emerged as the natural and highly gifted leader. He was able to motivate his team mates and move the group towards its goal with remarkable success. He could handle Nos .3and 7 with competence and else displaying appropriate techniques. Nos.5 and 4 came forward to lend good support to No.1 and also showed adequate leadership traits themselves No.6, 8 and 2 were ineffective camp followers and did not make any contribution to promote group activity. Thus, the only successful candidates of this group are Nos.1, 5 and 4 in that order.

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Comments

Vidhi Goswami on 2009-04-18 14:56:24 wrote,

@lmost perfect xplanation.~~