Friday, February 26, 2010

Why can't you just Shut Up?

Well, this is one issue which I had wanted to write about for long, and its something which has always interested me- GDs.

What is a Group Discussion?? Okay, okay, don’t close the page, this is NOT a post which gives you a general discussion about GDs. You can get that in any magazine, which claims to be the Number 1 magazine in India. What this post will refer to, is how a GD can get screwed, courtesy- the Over-enthusiastic participants.

What happens when a GD gets too chaotic? Where everyone chirps in at once, each trying to outdo the other? Simple, we get a total mess, and the whole team or group gets negative points. In the worst case, the entire group may get eliminated and not a single person may get chosen(for the job/Bschool/etc).

Surely, that’s not what your objective is, right? After all, if you are an MBA aspirant, you would certainly want to give your best shot in a GD. So why does it happen that things go haywire? There are many reasons. Namely tension/nervousness, fear of getting trodden over by others(left behind), ego problem, over-excitement, etc.

Let us look at them one by one. Am leaving out the first point, since it’s quite obvious. Now, a situation might arise where you feel that you are not getting a chance to speak. So what do you do? Two choices, either you keep quiet, or you try to butt in. If you choose the later, again you get two choices, you can do so politely, or you can do so loudly and rudely. More often than not, one opts for the later. He may even tell the other person to shut up so that he can speak, or he can vehemently criticize and interrupt someone while he/she is in the middle of his talk. This is seen as a very negative trait and it should be avoided. Its better not to speak at all, rather than openly criticize and ridicule someone else. Starting an argument with someone midway, for the purpose of undermining him/her is just another distraction.

Of course, that does not mean, that you keep your mouth glued shut. In an ideal GD, you will get your turn to speak for an allotted time. However, in most GDs, it is seen that people start speaking at random, rarely giving the other person a chance to speak. Worse, many people keep speaking at the same time, so the GD becomes synonymous with a fish market type scenario. If somebody is speaking, it’s better to let him/her finish before you start. And if you feel he/she is speaking for too long, you can try interrupting politely with a ‘Excuse me, but since we are running out of time, we should give everyone a chance to speak, before we conclude’, or a similar remark.

Always remember, that you need to highlight your leadership qualities while speaking in a GD. And by leadership qualities, I do not mean that You should keep speaking all the time, and give others no chance to speak. This will only show that you are unfit to work in a team, since you prefer to do everything by yourself. If there is someone who has not yet spoken, or is feeling shy/uncomfortable, encourage him/her to come forward and speak.

And NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO, ALWAYS KEEP CONTROL OVER YOUR EMOTIONS. Else you are a Goner, trust me! If you loose your temper, start using slangs, or abusing your team-mates, I needn’t complete the sentence. Do not take any firm stance, such as, ‘You are completely wrong and ignorant. I oppose you totally…’, etc.
Keep your ego in check. No matter what the other person says or does, you must maintain your cool. Even if you totally disagree with him/her. You can always disagree in a polite manner by saying, ‘Of course your point has some significance. However, if we see this from a different view…’

What we forget is that a Group needs to work together to achieve its goal, even though the participants are competing against each other. That is what the company/recruiter looks for. Think, rationalize, and speak when you get the chance. Or rather take the chance. Its always good to make a nice overall impression, even if you run short on points. Try to think differently and put forward a few unique or even abstract ideas- that will earn you bonus points.

I guess I will end here now. Will post more on GDs in future. Thanks for reading, folks.


Anonymous said...

Hi buddy, well the real idea of the GD is that the participants should see themselves in the position of people in the real life scenario, who would be discussing the topic. Unfortunately in GD's people just prefer to think in lines of a casual Chai time debate and make it a fish market!

Satwinder Singh said...

Yep buddy, I totally agree with you. Many a time it even happens due to fear of losing. A guy may feel that if he does not speak he will lose out, so he keeps blurting in between.

And yep, there is often a lack of seriousness. People take the discussion a bit casually.

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