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By P. Mohan Chandran, Advocate
Possessing excellent communications skills is a sine qua non in today’s uber competitive world. Communication skills refer not only to effective speaking, but also to effective listening. A Group Discussion (GD) tests the ‘group communication skills’ of an aspirant, both in terms of ‘group speaking’ and ‘group listening.’

In the previous issue, we discussed the different types of GD and ‘Topic-based GD’ (Stand ‘Out’ From the ‘Group,’ Jan 13, 2011). Here, we will discuss the other types of GD, viz., Case-based GD, Article-based GD, and Film-based GD.
  1. Case-based GD: In a case-based GD, a case is given for analysis, which may be a Business case, HR case, or a Social case. A ‘case’ is a description of a ‘problem situation’ in an organization. The participants have to study the case, interpret and analyze it, identify the problem, offer all possible alternatives, evaluate the best option, and draw a short-term and long-term ‘action plan’ before providing the solutions. It is identification of the exact problem and offering of a range of pragmatic solutions that matter most in the case-based GD. How you interpret the case and justify your answers is also equally important.

    A case-based GD is more structured than a topic-based GD. You have to be very careful about case-based GDs, since they bring out your hidden personal biases. Sometimes, participants tend to become very emotional in case-based GDs, compared to other types of GDs. In a case-based GD, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer. The ‘process of finding the best solution’ is more important than the solution itself. You should always have a ‘Contingency Plan’ as a solution in a case-based GD.

    Check-list for Case Analysis:
    Identify and understand the following in the case-study in a case-based GD:
    • Key players and their motivations
    • Resources and constraints
    • Parameters for decision-making
    • Key facts
    • Incomplete information and assumptions.
  2. Article-based GD: In article-based GD, participants will be given an article. The article could be on business, society, politics, technology, sports, philosophy, science, etc. The participants will be given10-15 minutes to read the article, after which they will have to discuss the article for the next 20-25 minutes.
  3. Film-based GD: In Film-based GD, the participants will be shown a short-film, or a documentary, or a scene from a film, for about 15-20 minutes, after which they will have to discuss it for the next 20-25 minutes.
The following are the parameters on which a participant in a GD will be judged:
  1. Content: As far as GD is concerned, content is the ‘king.’ About 50% weightage is given only to content, while the other parameters, together, are given the remaining 50% weightage. ‘What you say’ in the GD forms the content. Through good content, you not only attract and command the attention of the group members, but also impress the moderator with your knowledge. You should never miss an opportunity to display your knowledge in a GD in terms of the content.
  2. Communication Skills: Communication skills play a vital role in a GD. The motto here is: ‘speak to express and not to impress, and when you express, you automatically impress.’ Communication skills pertain to the ability to convey one’s point effectively to an individual, as well as to the group, as a whole (group speaking). It also includes listening effectively to what the group members say (group listening). Lot of people think that communication is all about ‘talking,’ and just forget the ‘listening’ part. In GD, listening is as important as talking. Listening is a ‘leadership trait.’ While it takes courage to stand up and talk, it also takes courage to sit down and listen. Other aspects of communication that are important include clarity of thought, fluency of the language, intonation, charming voice, neutral accent, assertiveness, pace of speech, and persuasiveness.
  3. Group Behaviour: Group behaviour pertains to the positive body language and group dynamism. One of the most important aspects of group behaviour is maintaining eye-contact with all the group members, throughout the discussion. As a participant, you should emanate positivism that should rub off on the entire group. You should not criticize any member in the group, or the entire group. You should strictly refrain from making any kind of sarcastic comments on the topic of discussion, or on any of the individuals, or the group, as a whole. You should listen very actively, participate in the discussion in a pleasant and friendly manner, and ooze confidence through your speech. You should avoid being aggressive, and try to establish a good rapport with the group through positive group behaviour. You should shun behaviours such as touching others, blocking others’ view, patronizing, shouting to attract the group’s attention, standing and speaking to the group to focus the group members’ attention on you, making racist, casteist, biased, or gender-based comments.
  4. Leadership: Exhibiting leadership in a GD is also very important. You can show that you have leadership qualities by taking initiative when the moderator gives the green signal to start the discussion. Other ways of demonstrating leadership include listening effectively and intently when the group members speak, discussing the topic in an unbiased manner, and showing direction to the group when they seem to be going out of track (talking about irrelevant issues that are way off the topic).
‘DOs’ & ‘DON’TS’ OF A GD
Introduce original points in the discussion (not mentioned by others) Don’t express radical thoughts
Build others’ point by providing a rationale/logic and by quoting examples/statistics Don’t express opinions that are strong, biased, racist, caste-based, or gender-based
Provide counterpoint, logic, statistics, or data that show opposite, or different direction/conclusion Don’t ask direct questions
Use lot of examples and statistics to strengthen your proposition/statements Don’t directly negate others’ point
Use simple, short, and easy to understand sentences Don’t touch other group members
Use effective voice modulation/tone for emphasis and impact Don’t block others’ view
Show confidence through positive body language Don’t point out fingers at group members
Maintain eye-contact with all the group members for the entire duration of the discussion Don’t use anecdotes or personal examples as data
Provide ‘direction’ to the group and bring the discussion on the right track, if it is drifting Don’t show any emotions (like shouting)
Build strong rapport with the group with positive group behaviour Don’t make any aggressive, critical or sarcastic comments
Build strong rapport with the group with positive group behaviour Don’t make any aggressive, critical or sarcastic comments
Show openness to new ideas, and comfort with multi-polarity of views expressed in the discussion Don’t patronize (encourage others to speak when they are silent)
Facilitate full exploration of all the facets of the topic/issue Don’t thump on the desk to grab the group’s attention
Ask questions only when you wish to introduce an idea into the discussion Don’t use bombastic language, and avoid saying long sentences
Communicate ‘efficiently’ (make your point in as few words as possible) and ‘effectively’ (convey intended meaning) Don’t address any of the group members by their names
Published date : 18 Mar 2011 06:58PM

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