Beginning last year, State Bank of India had come up with drastic changes in their Mains examination in terms of type of questions asked. If that was not enough, another tweak was included in the Group Discussion process which was to conduct two discussions where one was a “simple discussion” on a topic while another one was “consensus based” discussion. While former demanded your own point of view, the later demanded your flexibility towards other’s point of view in a team.
Group discussions have been used by organizations mainly to check as to how an individual can get along in a group and whether he has the forte to lead as well as follow. It is just an indicative examination of your inherent abilities but holds a lot of importance in selection. You may be good at “simple discussion” but you might face difficulties in bringing consensus or your stubbornness might screw your own chances.
So, let’s look at how group discussions can be conquered amid a bunch of competitive individuals:
Hack # 1. Make eye contact with everyone but not the invigilators:
“Eyes are the way to someone’s heart”. Wait! You need not to enter into someone’s heart in that 10 minute exercise, you are not there to stare at someone to win their heart. But this trick plays an important role in extracting confidence from others. When you make eye contact with everyone in the group, you get everyone’s validation which bolsters your opinion. And yes, don’t make the mistake of looking towards invigilators after putting a good point. It will always be a huge turn off for them.
Hack # 2. Speak more, speak less:
Speak more, speak less. What is he trying to say? It means speak enough in the first part of the discussion so that you can willingly give others the chance to speak in the later part of the discussion. That doesn’t mean that you speak for the sake of speaking, put forward valid claims and let others do their part. The best thing I did during my Group Discussion round was that at times, I was willing to turn down my chance of speaking to let someone else put his/her point. And mind my words, it gets noticed and works in your favor.
Hack # 3. Be less competitive and more accommodative:
Don’t assume it to be a competition between you and the rest of the group. Because this misinterpretation can land you in trouble and might compel you to make mistakes unknowingly. Just take it is a plain intellectual discussion where in everyone is up to prove his/her point yet nobody wins. Being accommodative in consensus based discussions helps a lot but that doesn’t mean that you become servile and give up extremely easily.
Hack # 4. Beg, borrow and steal:
I know this might sound extremely unethical to do this but stealing from someone else’s idea is a good trick to extend the discussion. A group discussion flows in threads; pick one thread, create another thread, extend that thread, speak more on that and you might end up on showcasing a lot of skills to the invigilators. Remember, beg, borrow or steal smartly.
Hack # 5. Speak with authority:
This is something which impresses not even group members but the one who is there to examine you. When your words are mixed with authority, they reflect surety and give you an added advantage. It simply means that when you are speaking, others should listen to you with intent and not with disinterest. Once again, maintain a good tone because authority is all about conviction and very little about high tone.
Hack # 6. Try to make a balance between what you speak and how you speak:
Balance is always advantageous while following extremity is always disadvantageous. If you speak with authority but make an irrelevant point, it will render you worthless. On the contrary, if you put forward a ground-breaking point but with very little authority, it will also render you worthless. Hence, try to make a fine balance between what you speak and how you speak.
Hack # 7. Start first:
This may not be an obligation to start first because sometimes, you don’t get enough points in mind to speak at the outset and that roadblock leaves you behind. But, if possible, start the discussion as a ground rule since you will always have the advantage to drive the discussion your way. And when you start first, you always have the chance to end well too.
Words of Wisdom:
The ground rule is; speak less, listen more, react less, observe more. And yes, when you speak, it should feel like someone is making a valid point.
All the best!