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Group  Discussion

Main Topics Guidelines Elements Agenda Doubts Assessment



USUAL DOUBTS THAT STUDENTS HAVE AND THEIR ANSWERS


1
. Are we allowed to carry a piece of paper during the G.D. for noting down some important points?
Ans.- Normally you are allowed to carry a pieces of paper, but there might be some instance where you are specifically forbidden to.

2. Is there any particular seating arrangement, which is favorable to the participant?
Ans- If participants are asked to sit in a circle or a semicircle, one position is as good as any other. But if you are asked to sit on either side of a rectangular table, then try to chosen a position as close to the center as possible.

3. Should we begin the G.D. by appointing a leader amongst ourselves?
Ans- No, you should not. Leadership in a G.D is established implicity through one' s performance in the GD.

4. Should we distribute the total time available to all the participants to ensure those everyday gets a chance to speak?
Ans- Since a G.D is not like a debate or elocution, the participants should not resort to he strategy of distributing time amongst themselves.

5. Can we take a definite stand right away and them later on during the G.D switch over to the other side of the argument?
Ans- Yes, provided you do it in the right way. In a G.D it is quite likely that some other participant’s counter-argument convinces you to your point. If this happens, then it is best if you accept his argument and explain to the group how your previous argument was true within a narrow range, and how the new argument is applicable to a broader range. Naturally, it is safer not to make any rash statements for or against the topic before you learn the facts of the arguments. Blindly taking a stand will definitely lead you into trouble. This does not mean that you should sit on the fence. You may participate actively by pointing out issue on both sides of the argument in a reasonable and logical manner.

6. If we do not understand the meaning of the topic, should we ask the moderator to explain it to us?
Ans - No, You cannot ask the moderator the meaning of the topic. Instead of displaying your ignorance in this manner, it is better to wait for some other participant to explain the meaning of the topic. So listen to the discussion carefully for the first three or four minutes, and when you have gained some idea about the topic, participate in the discussions.

7. Should we address the other participants by their names or by their assigned numbers?
Ans - As far as possible, you should avoid the use of names or numbers. It is better to use pronouns such as 'he', ‘she’, 'you', etc, while referring to the other members of your group.

8. Are we expected to stick to the normally accepted line of thought or can we come up with something radical?
Ans-In a G.D, your creativity in thinking is very important. This means that you are supposed to come up with ideas and convince the group about the workability of your idea. There is no defined norm about ideas, other than that; they should be relevant to the topic.

9. If I feel strongly about an issue, should I voice my feelings?
Ans - There are many topics, which you may feel deeply about. However, it is important to be cool and emotionally stable during a G.D If you let yourself get involved at a personal level with the topic, or react emotionally o statements of other participants, you are likely to lose control over yourself during the G.D Remember that while it is important to say what you feel, it is equally important to be able to speak in a calm and logical manner.

10. Can I use technical terms or jargon, which is clear to me, but not to the group?
Ans- If you have to use technical terms, then please do not use abbreviations. After mentioning the term in full, take time off to explain to the group what it means. It is quite likely that the members of your group have a different academic background and are not conversant with the jargon that you use.

11. Do I begin my participation by requesting the group's permission to do so?
Ans- At times when the group is very orderly, you could start off by asking permission to present your case. But when the G.D is noisy (which is usually the case), do not waste times in formalities. First, nobody will be willing to give you a chance and second, it could also go against you (as lack of initiative on your part).

12. Which is the right time to enter a G.D to ensure that I am heard properly?
Ans-In any G.D, there are crests and troughs during the discussion. At a crest, the noise level is the maximum and at a trough there is almost total silence. Ideally, you should enter the G.D during the trough period. But normally in competitive Gds., the crests occur more often and for more prolonged periods. Troughs, if they do come, last for very little time, In such cases, you could identify those stages in the G.D where ideas dear/familiar to you are being discussed and enter the G.D irrespective of the noise level. The logic here is that you might never be able to identify a trough and even after identifying, might never be able to enter effectively then. Since being silent is not of much help, perhaps by participating at a noisy stages, you might gain some points at least.

13. How do I participate when the noise level is too high?
Ans- As explained above, if the noise level is high you have two options-remain silent, or join in by raising your voice to be heard above the din. At times it is not possible to speak loudly because of the nature of voice. At such times, identify the most powerful speaker in the group and note down the point he/she is making. The moments the noise level lessons even a little enter by supporting the most powerful speaker. You will have made a strong ally who will ally who will aid you and pull you through noisy situations.

14. Do I have to be cautious about other participants' feeling (on sensitive issues like religion, caste, etc.)?
Ans-Yes, you must. Running down others by arguing on religious practices and caste differences displays your viciousness and lack of maturity. Remember that you will end up sounding like an irrational and biased person. This is also true for touchy topics such as abortion, sexual discriminations, euthanasia etc.

15. Is it beneficial to be the first speaker in a group discussion?
Ans-If you can make a positive and confident start by speaking for at least 20-30 seconds at a stretch, then it would be advantageous. This is because the first speaker is normally expected to provide direction to the G.D If the job is property done, then the first speaker automatically becomes the leader of the group and his/her opening idea remains alive throughout the G.D

16. How critical is fluency in English to my performance in the G.D?
Ans-Command over the language and good grammar definitely aids you in enhancing your performance. A lack of ideas may be partly covered up by your skills in speaking, but not fully. If you are not fluent, or if you have to struggle to express your thoughts, you need to present very strong ideas to attract attention. Knowledge rather than speech become your mainstay. If you are able to communicate with the group by some means or the other, than fluency is not critical.

17. How necessary is it to use examples for illustrating an idea?
Ans-Please remember that examples by themselves do not prove anything. The use of example is helpful in elaborating your point, because people are able to understand your better. They associate better with your example than with your point.

18. How much and for how long should I participants?
Ans-In a 20 minute G.D with 12-15 participants, you should participate at least 4 times with each entry lasting for at least 20-25 seconds. You could participate more depending upon your comfort level and the need for participation.

19. How important is the use of body language in a G.D?
Ans-Use of proper body language is an advantage. Some of the ways in which you could use your body effectively are:
-Have significant eye contact. Look at the G.D members when you speak to them. Keep moving your eyes all around so that you focus on the whole group and not on specific individuals.
-Keep your body upright, and lean forward while speaking or listening. This will show your sustained interest in the G.D
- If you agree with somebody, nod your head, so that the speaker realises that your understand him.
- Use your hands effectively to emphasis your statements and to persuade others to listen to you do not gesture wildly, but use your hands as a means of communications.
- Do not place you hand in front of your mouth while speaking. It inhibits speech and shows self-consciousness.
- Do not use your arm to support your chin. It communicates a lack of interest in the G.D - Do not point your finger or pen at a person aggressively. These are intimidator tactics and will be a recognised as such.
- Keep your hands on the table when you are not using them to emphasis you points. If you tend to keep your hands moving then you might end up distracting others?
- Do not sit cross-legged during a discussions. A cross-legged position is for relaxation and not good for competitive situations.

20. Is it good to be humorous in a G.D?
Ans- In a relaxed type of G.D, which is not very competitive, humor is acceptable. But in a competitive G.D, your attempts at humor may fall flat. Other members of the G.D are likely to be tense, or thinking seriously about what to speak, and will be in mood to laugh.

21. Is it necessary to make an interim summary?
Ans- An interim summary is a way of directing the group mid-way through the G.D It helps the group pick out and focus on the most important points and thus use the remaining time effectively. However, it is not always necessary to make an interim summary, especially when the discussion already is well focused.

22. What do I do if someone else has already said that I wanted to say?
Ans-
You have two choices:
- Agree with the point made by your colleague and add on to it by displaying the applicability of the argument to different situations. By doing this you will have broadened the scope of the argument.
- Drop the point and think of something new to say.
If possible try to avoid this situation by speaking in the first 4-5 minutes of the G.D, when new points are being introduced. If you wait a long time to speak, someone else would most probably have covered ‘your ‘ point.

23. Is the use of slang/colloquialism permitted?
Ans- Generally not. For two reasons-first that it is bad English, and second, that other members of the group may not understand it.

24. Can I use a language other than English at any time to drive home my point?
Ans- No, You will have to stick on English.

25. How is aggression measured and judged in a G.D?
Ans-The moment people start reacting to your negatively and strongly, you may take it that you are being too aggressive. The degree of reaction is the measure of your aggressiveness.

26. What level of aggression is permissible?
Ans-There is a very thin line separating aggression and assertiveness. You should be aggressive enough to sound assertive, but aggression in excess of this will make you sound stubborn and inciter.

27. Is it true that the person who speaks the most in a G.D is bound to be the most successful?
Ans- This is a myth. Generally, a person who has sound knowledge about the topic and is clear thinker tends to speak more. This leads students to wrongly believe that success is directly proportional to the amount you speak. Just speaking for the sake of speaking will not take you far.

28. Will I be quizzed in my interview about my participation in the G.D?
Ans- If the interview immediately follows the G.D, then this is likely to happen. You may be asked to rate the performance of all members in the G.D, or to state your opinion on the topic etc.

29. Is it true that the G.D is used more as an elimination technique than as a selection tool?
Ans-In institute other than the IIMs, during the preliminary stages of selections, the G.D is uses as an elimination technique. In the final stages of the selection process, it is used to actively select, rather than to discard. This is because most of the elimination has been done at the earlier stage already. At the IIMs, since there are no such stages, the G.D is used to select and not to eliminate.

30. What is the level of accuracy desired in the facts and figures that you quote in a G.D?
Ans
-An error margin of 5% on the higher/lower side is permitted.

31.Is motivating other persons in a group to participate looked upon favorably?
Ans- If you try to motivate people by openly requesting them to speak then it might not be acceptable. You might be forcing someone to talk at the expense of the other members of the group. Also, the person who you are helping may not really want to speak at that point. It is therefore better to use other methods of motivation, These including agreeing with halting speakers, adding on to their points, implicate supporting them and giving them direction, etc.

32. Does the moderator have any biases or preconceived notions about the topic?
Ans- Ideally the moderate is supposed to be unbiased and neutral. But being a human being, the moderator may not be totally free from bias. The moderator may feel strongly about a topic and your views could differ from his. If you are good participants, this will not seriously affect your chances of getting selected.

33. Can we expect the moderator to stop or cut short the G.D much before the stipulated time is over?
Ans-At times if the G.D becomes chaotic, or the level of discussion deteriorates abysmally, the moderator might cut short the G.D

34. Can I be aggressive with lady participants?
Ans-
Being rude in a G.D (to any member) is downright unacceptable. But being aggressive (within acceptable limits) is entirely OK, with both male and female members of the groups. A G.D is not place for excessive gallantry.

35. Is it OK to ask pointed questions of the group members?
Ans- While you may ask for some clarifications from others members during a G.D, remember that you should not play the Devil’s advocate. Some participants question regularly the statements of the group members (with the aim of proving them wrong) and are difficult to convince. By playing the Devil’s Advocate such a participant obstructs the smooth flow of the G.D and does not allows the topic to progress. The pointed questions that he/she asks unsettle the other members, and the quality of the G.D deteriorates. The moderator would hold such a tedious inquisitor responsible for this, and would judge him/her badly.

36. Is it necessary that the group should arrive at a conclusion in the stipulated time?
Ans- In the ideal case, the group is expected to reach a conclusion. Normally the time constraint does not allow the group to do so. Where not all points have been discussed, and there is need for further discussion, the group may continue if it wishes, without a conclusion or a consensus.

37. Is an end-summary absolutely essential?
Ans- No, If the group has not reached any conclusion then it would be good if somebody puts the whole discussion in perspective by summarizing. But if there is not enough time, a summary may be avoided.

38. How are listening skills evaluated in a G.D?
Ans- A participant displays his/her listening skills by doing any of the following:
-Reaching time and again to arguments presented by the other members.
-Recollecting tie ideas and summarizing at different points in the G.D
-Connecting the various arguments presented at come up with something more meaningful -Constantly looking at the person who is speaking and not looking disinterested
-Nodding the head in agreements or disagreement with ideas presented during the G.D

39. Do we have to write a synopsis of the G.D once it is over?
Ans-Some institutes insist on this; but it is not universal.

40. Is voting an acceptable method of reaching a consensus?
Ans- No, As far as possible, try to avoid this.

41. What is the acceptable performance level of a G.D?
Ans- The scoring in a G.D is relative. Generally, participants are marked on a scale of 0-10 with weight ages assigned for individual elements. If the consolidated score for the best participants in the G.D is very high, the other participants will be judged against this score. Normally a cut-off score is established and all those who score above this are selected. If the level of a G.D is very low, and the highest score is below the cut-off, then all members of the G.D are rejected.

42. How should a group select a topic if asked to?
Ans-The group should brainstorm for about two minutes and narrow down the list of topics to about 3 or 4. After his the group should prioritize them based on the comfort level and ease of discussion of the topics. Asking each participant to rank the 4 topics could do this, and the most popular choice should be taken.

43. What is the normal duration of G.D?
Ans-About 20-25 minutes at the IIMs.

44. How many students are usually clubbed in one group discussion?
Ans-The number varies between 10 & 15

45. How many panel members will be there?
Ans- Normally 2 or 3

46. How appropriate is it to act a co-ordinator in a G.D?
Ans-The role of a co-ordinator is usually played by a person who is senior in rank or designation to the other members, In a company Board meeting for example, the Chairman or CEO co-ordinates. In a G.D, since all the participants are to be treated as equal in rank, playing the coordinator is not advisable.

47. Are the topics decided on the basis of the academic background of the participant?
Ans-No. Topics are usually general in nature. They may be based on some current event or some issue of general interest.

48. What do I do if one member is very stubborn/aggressive?
Ans-You could use any one of the following methods: Ignore him and address other members of the group. Be assertive with him and collectively tell him that his argument is faulty Point out to him that his point is well taken and the group must progress further by discussing the ideas being presented by others.

49. What are the acceptable ways of interrupting somebody else, so that I may make my point?
Ans- You can interrupt in any of the following ways: By saying “Excuse me, but I feel that what you are saying is not totally true...” By raising your voice and making the other participants clam up halfway through By saying “ Yes, I agree with your idea, and I would like to add on it.......” By asking for some clarification from the speaker on the point which he is making at that moment. 50. Can my G.D performances be improved through training? Yes, G.D performances can be improved by training oneself in the following areas: Creative Thinking Fluent Communication Proper Presentation Personal and Inter-personal Dynamics.



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