Group Discussion Etiquettes

Group Discussion forms an important stage of admission process in top B-schools. Apart from the knowledge and communication skills, candidates are judged on the basis of their mannerisms and etiquettes. Candidates are required to present their personality traits in a limited time. A successful group presentation demands a certain degree of decorum. Here are certain things to keep in mind to enhance your score in a group discussion:
  • It is very important to dress formally and arrive on time. The way you walk to your allocated seats speaks about your personality. Be confident but not arrogant.
  • Take a pen and a notepad. It makes you look organized.
  • Listen to others carefully, jot down the relevant points and list down your own points.
  • Organize your thoughts before you speak. This will help you express with confidence and clarity.
  • Pay attention while others are speaking. This will enable you contribute to the discussion in a positive way.
  • Do not to deviate yourself from the topic. Talking about unrelated things puts a bad impression.
  • Do not interrupt the speech of other participants and wait till they complete.
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  • Maintain a balance in your tone while objecting to the points made by other participants. Avoid raising your voice too much or shouting.
  • Respect the opinion of others. Agree and acknowledge what you find good points expressed by others. Use phrases like “What you have said here, sheds light on another aspect...”.
  • Express your disagreement in a polite, dignified and convincing manner. Do not use negative comments like ‘‘this point is wrong" or "your argument doesn't make any sense." Instead use phrases like “You have a good point but there’s another aspect to it… ”.
  • Do not try to dominate other participants. It is a discussion and not an argument or debate.
  • Keep your body language positive. Table thumping, pointing fingers, looking here and there, etc, are negative gestures.
  • If someone becomes openly antagonistic to you, and says things directly contradicting your points of view or makes personal attack, stay calm and relaxed. A situation like this is a good opportunity to demonstrate your conflict handling skills and maturity.
    • If the counter-argument is valid, concede to the point gracefully using statements like "I think you have an important point there that I did not think of".
    • If the counter-argument is not valid, use statements like “let’s seek the opinion of other participants” and turn to others, seeking their opinion with statements like "we seem to have different views here…what do you feel?"
    • If the attack is directed against you as a person, then the best strategy is to just ignore it and get on with the discussion, without any animosity towards the attacker. This is hard to do but if you manage, it will be the best advertisement for your maturity.
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    • "Losing" an argument is not bad - even if you are convinced about the correctness of your stand, don't stand on it - let the other person "win" it by saying "I know that you may disagree, but my point is…, however, we need not keep debating this, maybe we need to proceed". Losing an argument does not lead to loss of points. Sometimes, it helps demonstrate your flexibility and maturity.
Finally, your team skills are evaluated on the basis of the way you carry on with the other participants. It doesn’t matter how long you speak but what you spoke and how you put your opinion into words.
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