December 22, 2010

How To Crack GD -2

Finally, the first hurdle CAT, if not an audacious seize, is at least out of the way. Now let's frame our modus operandi for the next phase i.e. Group Discussion.

First let's have a glance at the structure  of Group Discussion of a good  B-Schoo .
 Participants   :  10-12
Average Time :  25-30 minutes
Assessment    :  Personality Traits

 In order to put up a decent performance  and positive impact in a Group Discussion, knowledge about the personality traits that the B-Schools look for is desirable. So let's go for it right now.

Teamwork & Team Player: Teamwork is the ability to work together towards a common vision, is the ability to direct individual accomplishments towards organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.   

B-Schools lay great emphasis on this parameter because it is essential for managers to be team players. The reason: Managers always work in teams. At the beginning of his career, a manager works as a team member and later as a team leader. Lacking this skill will definitely hamper your chances of getting into a top B-School.

Logic & Clarity of Thought: Your Logic plays an important role while expressing your opinions or ideas in a Group Discussion. 
For example, an opinion like "Increase in the number of IIMs will help more students to get quality pedagogy" can be better stated by demonstrating your logical ability by saying: "Increase in the number of IIMs,by providing quality education to more students, will definitely encounter brain drain besides which our nation will take the pride of creating professionals required by the top class companies". You can also counter statements like quality of education will deteriorate by saying "The hike in the fees will definitely meet the costs to attract good faculty, create good infrastructure and upgrade technology".

Leadership: "The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects the wind to change but a leader adjusts his sails". Let's be more clear on this.   

The following are the situations that can arise in a Group Discussion:
• A Group Discussion where participants are unable to establish a proper rapport and do not speak much.
• A Group Discussion where participants get emotionally charged and the Group Discussion gets chaotic.
Here a leader is the one who acts correctly and makes the Discussion where participants discuss the topic assertively by touching on all its nuances and try to reach the objective.
Remember that a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.Hence merely doing the moderator job doesn't mean you possess leadership qualities. Here are the qualities of a great leader:
• A leader, no matter how hard-fought the issue, never gets personal. He never says or executes anything that may come back to haunt him on another issue
• A leader does his homework. He is very well aware of the fact that he can't lead without knowing what he is talking about
• A leader uses his abilities and power to persuade, not to intimidate
• Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand."

So try not only to contribute to the Group Discussion with your ideas and opinions, but also try to steer the conversation towards a goal.

Assertiveness: There are many definitions and ideas on what assertiveness means. Enjoying your rights, expressing your feelings, asking for what you want, stating your views - with integrity, honesty, directness, respect for others is the definition that is relevant to you and your circumstances in the Group Discussion.

As an assertive person, you must be able to handle the following situations in a Group Discussion.
• an aggressive person doesn't listen to your views/needs, so you need to make them listen
• an unassertive person doesn't express his views, so you need to encourage them to express their views
• a passive-aggressive person avoids any real dialogue, so you need to engage them in the discussion
A person's leadership skills are often gauged by his Assertiveness.As you can see in the adjacent image, a leader is one who strikes a balance in this quality. Possessing either a low or a high assertiveness is considered to be a negative personality trait. So remember to put forth your point to the group in a very emphatic, positive and confident manner.    
Participants often mistake assertiveness for aggressiveness. The basic difference between being assertive and being aggressive is how our words and behavior affect the rights and well being of others. Aggressiveness is all about enforcing your point without paying attention to the opinion of the other person, which may hamper your team's targets and goals. An aggressive person can also demonstrate negative body language, whereas an assertive person displays positive body language.

Think Outside The Box: Thinking outside the box means to think creatively, unimpeded by orthodox or conventional constraints.    
Thinking outside the box requires different attributes that include:
• Willingness to take new perspectives.
• Openness to do different things and to do things differently.
• Focusing on the value of finding new ideas and acting on them.
• Striving to create value in new ways.
• Listening to others.
• Supporting and respecting others when they come up with new ideas.
Out-of-the box thinking requires an openness to new ways of seeing the world and a willingness to explore. Out-of-the box thinkers know that new ideas need nurturing and support. They also know that having an idea is good but acting on it is more important.

In a Group Discussion an idea or a perspective which provides a scope for entirely new dimensional discussion is always highly appreciated. If you are able to come up with an innovative idea and put it across convincingly, such that it is discussed for quite sometime by the group, you can take it for granted that you have done quite a decent job in that discussion.

Flexibility: "Who says golf can't be played with Apples?"..If this is your attitude then you are the one for the game.Absence of this quality makes you a friend to no person in the Group Discussion. Besides emphasizing on your idea you must be open to all the other possible ideas as well. In brief you should consider all the possible dimensions of the issue.

Never ever start your Group Discussion with a stance or a conclusion. 
Say the topic of a Group Discussion is, 'Should Dravid retire from Cricket?'
Some participants tend to get emotionally attached to the topic and take a stand either in favour or against the topic, by saying 'Yes, he should', or, 'No, he should not'.One should always avoid this because by taking a stance, you have already given your decision without discussing the topic at hand or listening to the views of your team members.

Initiative: I am very much aware of the fact that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a Group Discussion, especially when your team is absolutely conscious of what you are saying. This is a high-risk high-return strategy. But if your mind can visualize the outcome of your idea then you can start the action called "Initiation".  
Bear in mind that you have to initiate a group discussion only if you are well versed with the topic of the Group Discussion. There's no point in fumbling or giving up on your initialized idea as quickly as someone makes a statement contradicting your opinion. If you initialize a Group Discussion and fails to survive on your idea at regular intervals, then you are in serious trouble. As the saying goes, "CONTENT IS KING", you must be proficient in the topic of the Group Discussion.

Remember, that the act of "Initiation" creates the first impression of your abilities so be sure that you are not going to loose this chance by putting any inappropriate point.

Persuasiveness:  You should act like a shepherd who always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same. You must possess the ability to analyze and persuade others to see the problem not only from your point of view but also should be able to persuade them to analyze it from multiple perspectives, of course without contradicting straight away their ideas and opinions. It is obvious that when you have nothing interesting or important to say you are not meant to persuade your team members. Remember that what you're doing is putting into professional play the way that you relate to other team members, the way that you analyze, the way that you would convince your team members to do what you want, which has a lot to do with listening, with humility and a sense of yourself. 
The best way to persuade others is with your ears by listening to them.

 Communication Ability: This is the key skill in order to exhibit all the qualities that we discussed till now. Communication skills doesn't mean public speaking, which according to me is an art of diluting two-minute idea with two-hour vocabulary. You have to understand that the key factor here is listening. In a group discussions it is greed to do all the talking but not want to listen at all. In fact seldom it happens that a bad listener is good at communication skills. Good communication does not mean that you have to speak in perfectly formed sentences and paragraphs. Try to use simple and lucid language to explain your ideas and I am sure you will be accepted by everyone in the group. In order to communicate effectively, one must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.
Sometimes, in a Group Discussion we may come across some participants who use their Holy Vocabulary Skills in order to show-off their knowledge (not in the topic but in the language) forgetting the fact that everyone in the Group Discussion has already done a decent job regarding this aspect in the written exam. So you need not worry about them as they are already accumulating points, of course negative points.

As Plato said, Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools too say something. So find out what you are before the facilitator finds it out for you….

Conceptualization: Conceptualization is the use of particulars that has come into the discussion to bring to light within the mind a generalizable idea. The act of conceptualization is the act of thinking quickly about the ideas exchanged and seeing beyond existing ideas and applying them to summarize the group discussion.

At the end of the discussion, you could probably summarize in a few sentences that presents the overall perspective. You may not be able to do it in every group discussion, but you must have the ability to do this when the situation demands.
So, I completely understand that it is not easy to exhibit all these qualities in a GD, but at the same time you must be able to keep these things in mind and get into practicing some group discussions before you go to the D-day fight.



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