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Group Discussion – A Consensus for All Problems

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Md Khasimul Asif:

“The great enemy of knowledge is not error, but inertness. All that we want is discussion; and then we are sure to do well, no matter what our blunders may be. One error conflicts with another, each destroys its opponent, and truth is evolved.”
— Henry Thomas Buckle

Group discussion is a form of communication, in which, a particular number of people meet and discuss ideas to arrive at a decision or solution to a problem .They are widely used in organizations for decision making and problem solving. The motive of a group discussion is to concede with others and come to a conclusion.

However these days, group discussions are being used for personality test to assess a person’s:

→Leadership skills

→Communication skills

→Interpersonal skills

→ Persuasive skills

→Problem solving skills

→Conceptualizing skills

Having scored high marks, students who get selected for a higher course or employment are placed at par based on their age, qualification and experience. It becomes necessary to conduct further screening to choose a few from many. It is here that Group Discussion plays an important part. It helps in choosing the socially suitable candidate among the academically superior achievers. The Indian Defense Forces were the first to tap the potential of group discussions and incorporate them into their battery of tests for recruitment of officers. It is one of the best tools to study the behavioral and attitudinal responses of the participants. Rightly speaking, it is more a technique than a conventional test.

A group discussion is designed as a situation test wherein a sample of a candidate’s group worthiness and potential as a worker comes out quite explicitly .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.

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. It is essentially a verbal-oriented performance where one has to talk one’s way out. It also requires the verbal display of the knowledge of the candidate. The more is one’s knowledge of the subject, the more interested, enthusiastic and confident one would become in speech and be able to contribute effectively to the discussion.

The great task lies in scoring well in it and creating a good impression on the examiners. They 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 one’s presence strongly felt. One must arouse other’s interest by the power of expression. Conveying all information in well-balanced sentences in a manner that reflects a good grasp of the subject will indicate a sharp and analytical mind. The delivery should be smooth and catching. The most important of all is the tone. It should reflect the humility of a 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 the group members which matters.

All that one needs to do in a group discussion:

1 Get off to a good start

2 Speak out the Ideas jotted down

3 Encourage other participants to speak

4 Manage one’s emotions and body language

5 Deal properly with late comers

6 Avoid arguments and abusive language

7 Inject humor

8 Give examples but stick to the topic

9 Be non judgmental and empathetic

10 Give a concrete conclusion in agreement with other participants.

Remember that the reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour!

image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rachaelvoorhees/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

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