GROUP DISCUSSION

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Group Discussion is a method known and practiced in both traditional and modern societies. In traditional rural societies in India and many other Asian countries, the elders of the village or community use it for taking certain decisions on behalf of the community or for interpreting or determining conventions. In such societies, the hierarchal relationship among the elders and between the village chief or leader and the members of the group is observed strictly, but the opportunity to express their views is generally given to all participants. Modern societies have developed Group Discussion as a tool to increase the efficiency by giving people a sense of participation. While Group Discussion test was first introduced in western countries for the selection of personnel for their Armed Forces.Gradually the utility and the success of this method of testing made it popular among other organizations also round the world. It has now become an important and essential part of the selection procedure of some of the government undertakings, multinational corporation, Services Selection Boards (SSBs), and the other recruitment agencies. It is also a common feature of the admission tests for the admission in management institutes. Even When the caliber of a candidate has been tested through written tests, intelligence tests, psychological tests, etc. The final selection in many organizations and institutions is made only after a Group Discussion.

 

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Group Discussion is not the same as the formal debate. When anyone takes part in debate, he usually tries to force his opinion on others. He is anxious to win the argument irrespective of where the truth lies. If he knows an argument which supports his opponent’s side, he very carefully, ignores it. Sometimes he speaks fervently on the side of subject in which he does not believe. He is not working to find new wisdom for his life needs, but is simply concerned with making an impression. Speeches are often prepared beforehand so that there is no room for exchange of opinions. Where this is the case the whole mind is firmly closed against any danger of being affected by the real truth of what the other side is brining forward. In fact in debate there will be mover of the proposition, a seconder of the proposition and then a leader of the opposition. Those who would be speaking for the motion or against the motion will be decided upon in advance and they cannot argue for both sides. To conduct the debate there will be a Chairman or President who will call upon the speakers one by one in a particular order. A definite time limit will also be fixed in advance and each candidate will be required to present his views or conclude his arguments within the fixed time limit. Finally the motion will be put to vote by the house.

The Group Discussion on the other hand is very informal and not conditional or restricted by such procedural rules as and when he pleases on the subject under discussion. He can talk if he so chooses or he may remain silent also. He can speak in favour of the subject, against it, follow a neutral path or even explain both the merits and demerits, advantages and disadvantages. It is all left to the initiative, interest and ability of each member in the group. In a debate when one member is on his feet and addressing the house, no one else is permitted to get up and speak. Likewise, the permission of the Chairman should always obtained before one could address the house. Such restrictions do not apply to an informal Group Discussion.


In a Group Discussion, no single person imposes his or her own opinion on everyone else. It is essentially a sharing of experience, and not doing or thinking what someone else has decided beforehand group must do or I think. When a subject is being discussed in a group and a  member wants to say something about it, he has to understand clearly what he is going to say and he has to have a good idea of what he is putting forward. Other people may not agree with him and they may have their ideas and possibly very good ideas. This causes him to examine critically what he has put forward. Perhaps, his points of view will not hold in the light of what is said by others. He then will thinks and says. He gets a training in the art of self-examination as well as in the habit of relating his ideas to the facts of experience. This is the way in which men and women of independent thought and judgment are produced and these are men and women which the world and our country needs so urgently now-a-days.


Every person has its own experiences. As a result of these, he can come to certain conclusions about what is right and what is wrong. His confidence has been educated to a certain extent or he may not have come to any definite conclusions and may not have a sure guide. At the same time he may not be conscious of this uncertainty. Now discussing with others a question, say, for example, the question of the right attitude to development or violence does two things for this person. In the first place, Group Discussion shows him what the experience of others has been and why they have come to certain conclusions. In doing thus it throws him back on his own experiences and on the conclusions has reached. It makes hi to re-examine the foundations of his own opinions. This may result in a change in his opinions or the strengthening of his convictions. But in either case he has checked op on himself and his convictions in the light of experience of others. If this is done honestly, it always results in the maturing of its own personality. Secondly if he has not come to fix conclusions and convictions then Group Discussion reveals this to him and urges him to come to definite conclusions. It shows him his fogginess and helps him to clarify and make definite what he really believes. It rescues him from that dangerous conditions of processing a drifting mind. “ Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend”. Group Discussion Shows a man how blunted his mind may be and helps him to sharpen it. So in these two ways, Group Discussion helps a person to examine himself and checks up on what he really believes.


Very little of man’s life is lived separately and away from others. It is very necessary that a person learns to “live together” . In Group Discussion there are two sources open to a person if he wants to stay in the group. He has to give way to what a whole group thinks or he has to win over the group to his way of thinking. On the part of everyone in the group there must be both giving way and gaining at the same time. A member of the group has the responsibility of making a positive and constructive contribution to the common reflection of the group and he must also have the duty of recognizing the right of others to a particular view point and also the value of these view points. A person may not be convinced that these view points of others are right. He may feel the obligation to stick to his own point of view. But he must recognize the right of others to have a different opinion form his own and this will occur very often even though he may not agree. It often happens that contact with an opinion different from what one holds has helped one and enabled one to reach eventually a stage far in advance of the stage he was at before he took part in particular Group Discussion. In very many cases the effect of Group Discussion is the advancement of each member of group. In fact “ Group Discussion is like a chemical process in which the elements are modified and combined but not loast.”







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