In this article we shall discuss the approaches to participate in a discussion where you are either unaware of the implications of the topic or you have a doubt regarding the point to be discussed from a set of diverse points. The following five tips may be of help:-
- Make notes and understand the views expressed. This is the most suggested approach in case of ignorance with respect to the content for the topic at hand. Listen vigilantly and document the key points. These points may serve as guiding tools for the subsequent discussion.
- Quite often the invigilators see how active and involved the participants are and active listening is considered as a good way of participation. This is better than switching yourself off mentally and showing a visible indifference.
- Another way is to seek clarifications from the speaker. This demonstrates willingness to learn from others. However you need to ensure that you are not interrupting the speaker randomly as that will go against the essence of constructive engagement.
- You may not have understood some part of what was said in which case you can interject with "excuse me, I didn't quite get it… can you clarify the first/last part" or "are you saying that …….".
Play the role of mediator
- This is recommended in case you have good inter-personal skills and can coordinate the discussion at certain critical points. The mediator has to serve as a link between different members of the group. However, please note that mediation should not amount to controlling the natural flow of the discussion.
Summarizing the discussion
- Highlight the key points that were covered in the discussion and any conclusion that might have been reached. Recapitulating after regular intervals not only consolidates the overall discussion but also showcases your ability to capture the essence of the discussion. If done well, it also evinces your affinity for diversity management.
Structuring thought process
- Break down the topic into smaller parts and think through each part, to identify a lot of angles which have not been thought of or discussed. For example, if the topic for discussion is ‘Is guessing an act of intelligence?’, then it helps to look at the key words in the topic; which in this case are ‘guessing’ and ‘intelligence’. Try defining them separately and get into their respective details before addressing the question posed in the topic. This not only gives a directional thrust to your participation, but also helps you to enlarge the scope of discussion.