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Body & Mind Strategies for a Successful GD

By P. Mohan Chandran, Advocate
Content is given the maximum weightage in Group Discussions (GDs) – about 50% - and the rest 50% weightage is accorded for communication skills, group behaviour, and leadership, combined together. As such, ‘what you talk’ is of paramount importance in a GD.

Here are few idea-generation strategies that will help you generate ideas when your mind seems to be going blank.
  1. Question Word Approach (QWA): When a topic for GD is given to you, identify the key-words in that topic, and ask yourself questions like why, which, where, what, when, and how. These questions will help you dig deeper into the topic and unearth some ideas. For instance, let us take a topic for illustrative purpose. Let’s say the topic for the GD is: “Exposure of women in public places should be banned.” Now, first identify the key words in this topic. The key words are ‘exposure,’ ‘women,’ ‘public places,’ and ‘banned.’ After identifying the key words, apply the QWA strategy to each of the key words to generate ideas. Ask yourself the following questions:
    • Exposure: What is exposure? Why does exposure happen? How does it happen? Where is exposure noticed conspicuously? Who all does exposure affect? Does exposure differ according to place, person, and culture? Does exposure have the same kind of impact on different kinds of viewers? When is exposure embarrassing? How can we contain/prevent exposure of women, especially at public places?
    • Women: Why do only women expose? Is it that only women expose? Why do we emphasize so much on exposure of women? Isn’t exposure of men considered exposure? What impact can exposure of women have on the society and culture? How does exposure of women vis-à-vis exposure of men affect the moral fabric of society?
    • Public Place: What is a public place? How do we define it? What are the various public places that women frequent? Do we consider all public places in our discussion, or only certain public places? Is exposure of women in public places considered bad/unhealthy at all times, or only at certain times?
    • Banned: What is a ban? Why are certain things banned? What were the things that were banned in the past? How can ban be effective? Did the ban yield the intended results, or did it aggravate the situation? Isn’t ban a very strong action? Is such a strong action required to prevent exposure of women? In what other ways can exposure be prevented, without resorting to an extreme step like ban?
  2. Empathetic Approach: In this approach, you have to put yourself in the shoes of the affected parties, and think from their angles. The affected parties in the topic are women, owners of public places, viewers, garment manufacturers & sellers, and fashion designers. Now, let us understand how it affects each of these parties.
    Women: Women may argue that a ban of this kind may be infringing upon their fundamental right of freedom of expression (in the way they wear their dresses), and the right to live life (the way they want to). They may contend that a third party cannot dictate terms to them as to what they should, or should not wear in public places.
    Owners of Public Places: Public places include cinema halls, restaurants, malls, super markets, parks, religious places, etc. If exposure of women in these places is banned, it may affect the owners of these places by way of revenue loss (sales). The footfalls may reduce, resulting in loss of sales (top line), which in turn may affect the profits (bottom line), which may lead to inability by the management of these public places in paying salaries to the staff, which may in turn cause retrenchment of jobs, and gradually, unemployment.

    Viewers: How does this kind of exposure of women affect viewers? Does it affect all kinds of viewers, or only certain categories of viewers? What will be the reaction of different categories of viewers, such as rural viewers and urban viewers? What will be the reaction of different kinds of viewers such as, teenagers, young adults, middle-aged people, old-aged people, etc.?

    Garment Manufacturers & Sellers: How will garment manufacturers & sellers be affected with exposure of women in public places? How will their sales and profits be affected? Since the sellers are stacking up the garments, dresses, and dress material designed by fashion designers, who may cater to the contemporary taste, but offend the conservationists, a ban in exposure of women at public places may bring down their sales, too, affecting their profits, forcing them to reduce their staff, and indirectly lead to unemployment.

    Fashion Designers: Fashion designers may also be affected by the ban on exposure of women in public places, since fashion designers design clothes aimed at flaunting in public places, so that the fashion catches on. The ban may affect their livelihood and sales, causing serious damage to their profession and the fashion designing industry. Young and creative people may no longer show interest in taking up this profession. Feminists, womanizers, and supporters of fashion designing may protest, forcing the government to allot some sops to the fashion designers to support their livelihood.
  3. PELTS Approach: This approach involves analyzing the topic from various angles, viz., Political, Economic, Legal, Technological, and Social angles. Let us consider each of these.
    Political: Do political people have the will and the guts to implement this kind of ban? How will this kind of ban benefit them politically? Is there any politics behind this kind of ban, or are they really guardians of our culture?
    Economic: How will this ban affect economically? The ban may affect the sales and profits of garment manufacturers, fashion designers, and owners of public places, leading to unemployment. Is the government ready to compensate these people financially? How will this kind of compensation affect the government exchequer? How will the government recover this money, and from whom?
    Legal: Will the women, owners of public places, garment manufacturers, and fashion designers keep quiet with this kind of ban, or will they approach the Supreme Court? What if the Supreme Court upholds the decision of the plaintiffs (the people who filed the legal case)? Can the government still implement the ban in such cases?
    Technological: Can this kind of ban be strictly enforced with the aid of technology? What are the kinds of technologies the government can employ here to enforce this ban? Is it really practical? Is the technology always reliable? If no, what are the loopholes, and how can they be plugged?
    Social: What kinds of women expose themselves at public places? What does it say about their ethical, cultural, and family background?
90% of communication happens through non-verbal communication (body language), while only 10% is verbal communication (written or spoken). As such, positive body language plays a very important role in a GD.

Sitting Posture & Position of Legs
The sitting posture should be straight. The feet should touch the ground, the thighs should be parallel to each other, and the legs should be kept close to each other. You should keep your legs straight, and not cross it at the ankles. You should avoid postures like putting one leg over another, stretching legs forward or backward, stretching one leg forward and another backward, or keeping the legs wide apart. You should also avoid keeping your feet on the bar/rod attached to the chair. You should maintain a single sitting posture throughout the discussion, and shun constant shuffling of your feet or body posture, as this shows impatience, uneasiness, and nervousness.
You can lean a little forward because it is considered to be a positive body language. Leaning forward implies you are willing to participate in the GD actively. At the same time, you should avoid leaning backward, since it is considered a negative body language. Leaning backward means you are not interested in the discussion.

Eye-contact is vital in a GD. You should maintain eye-contact with all the group members throughout the discussion, and not just when you are responding to a point made by one of the group members. While you are responding to a point made by one of the group members, you should first look into that particular group member’s eyes for a longer duration (say, about 10 seconds or so), and then, gradually shift your gaze to the other group members. At no point in the discussion should you give an impression to the moderator, or to the group members, that you are not interested in the entire group, or that you are interested only in a particular member(s) of the group, or a particular sub-group. Not maintaining constant eye-contact with all the group members could mean that you are under-confident, shy, lying, nervous, or not honest. You should avoid looking down, or up, or sideward when addressing the group, or a particular member of the group.

Head & Neck Positions
You should keep your head still while talking. When you are listening to a point made by one of the group members, you should tilt your neck a little, either to the right, or to the left, which implies that you are listening very keenly to what is being said.

You can make gestures with your hands, as long as they are not exaggerated. Exaggerated and dramatic gestures are a big ‘no.’ Your gestures should not seem aggressive and should not cause any injury to the people flanking you on either sides in the discussion. Gestures such as banging or thumping on the desk/table should be strictly avoided.

Other Things to be Avoided
  • Rotating your pen with your fingers, or playing with your pen
  • Twiddling your thumbs, cracking your fingers, or rubbing your palms
  • Putting your hands in your pockets, or making sounds with the coins in your pockets
  • Scribbling on your book, paper, or on the desk
  • Straightening or combing your hair with your pen
  • Putting your pen in your mouth, or chewing it
  • Playing with your tie (if you are wearing one)
  • Shaking your legs, or stomping your feet and making noises
Published date : 18 Mar 2011 06:37PM

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