Group Discussion Etiquette
Group Discussion is a vital phase in the admission process to top MBA schools. A Group Discussion does not just evaluate a candidate on the knowledge, but many other important skills like communication, group dynamics, and leadership, etc. are taken under advisement. Being an important part of the MBA selection process, a clearly winning progression at this stage is crucial to making it to the desired business School.
Etiquettes are a complex set of good behavioural patterns and social interactions that reflects a lot about your personality. Your etiquettes are a reflection of your society’s customs, ethical codes, history, and the rubrics of the groups that we belong to. For your MBA-GD task, good etiquettes are mostly concentrated around making people near you feel more at ease and reaching an agreeable solution.
Participants for MBA admissions in a group discussion are required to discuss the assigned GD topic, wrestle with it, and bring out good opinions to it. They are expected to arrive at a shared consensus or at least reach an understanding among themselves, of the different perspectives on the topic. The task is not easy and does not come about naturally. For this kind of resolution, the skills must be moulded, and practiced. A few set of protocols, politeness, and decorum takes you a long way in proving relevant and effective in discussions.
Golden Rules for Good Conduct and Etiquettes in a GD
Remember, these important GD etiquettes while participating, to come out a winner in team-based discussions:
- Do not arrive late to the GD test and dress professionally.
- Stay well within the framework of the topic. Avoid talking about things that are off the topic, as it restricts the group from holding a meaningful discussion within a given time.
- Instead of asking closed-end questions, try to frame open-end questions whenever possible.
- Do not interrupt the speaker only because you disagree with their point. Interrupt only when one does not stop speaking or is moving off the topic.
- Avoid making outright negative comments. Instead of saying “this is a wrong point”, frame it like this: “I understand your point but there are some issues that should be addressed”. When it is absolutely important to negate, say it politely with some valid reasons.
Therefore, it is important to be familiar with useful expressions for voicing opinions, agreeing, and disagreeing.
- Keep your body language relaxed and keep smiling.
- Speak sensibly with confidence and organised thoughts. Maintain a balanced tone while objecting to the points. Do not ever raise your voice.
- Pay attention to what others are speaking. Make notes, if you have other opinions; refer to what they said when the time is right. Agree and acknowledge the good points brought up by others.
- If you thought that other member’s counterargument was valid, take it gracefully. You can use the statement: “ You have just pointed out something that I have noticed only now”
If you thought that the argument presented by other member is not correct, then you may say: “The two of us seem to have a different outlook to this ….”
- Stay calm even when someone makes a personal attack or is openly aggressive.
- If you think you lost the argument, it is not a bad idea to show some maturity and let them win. Letting others win does not lead to the loss of your points. Proceed further with the next point of the debate.
- Do not sound dominating because it is a discussion, not a debate.
- Eyes convey a lot of emotions when you are confused, distracted, angry, etc. Therefore, make your eyes do the positive signaling and keep maintaining eye contact with everyone.
- Drumming your hands, clenching the table/chair, tapping pen, fidgeting, rustling paper, moving your chair, etc. are all signs of nervousness. Avoid such gestures.
- Be enthusiastic but under control. Adapt and cooperate by looking at the situation.
- Do not point fingers at others or ridicule them while you deliver your points.
- Try to draw out quieter members, this helps in achieving some balance in the group and adds up some new viewpoints.
You may be a very smart candidate, but if you do not know when and how to behave in a certain way, it may not get you farther. In an MBA selection process, you are just one in many students and the panelists are a busy lot. The weightage given to etiquette and manners is huge, because it holds the attention of the judges. Your attire, walk, body language, discussion style, team spirit, listening skills are very important. Confidence is the vital tip and wins half the battle when delivered in balance. So, the thumb rule for good etiquette is to use “Hard Facts and Soft Voice”