Group discussions are important at the psychological level to understand the candidates’ actions, thoughts and emotions without taking into consideration the group they belong to and the groups that surrounds them. The groups are important at sociological level. Societal forces, such as traditions, values, and norms, don’t reach directly to individuals but instead, work through the groups to which each individual belongs. Therefore, the degree and style of leadership may depend heavily on group dynamics. Often external rules, like parliamentary procedure are less important than “group dynamics.” If we can become more aware of group dynamics, we can be better assessors of personality in a group.
Importance of Group Discussion
Communication– One of the easiest aspects to be observed in a group process is the pattern of communication in a group. The points observed are, who talks, for how long, how often, who talks after whom and who do people look at? Other aspect that needs to be keenly seen is the style of communication used, e.g. assertions, questions, gestures etc. Who interrupts whom? Is there change in participation i.e. who becomes quiet or more talkative or changes pitch/tone? How are silent people treated? This pattern of communication gives certain clues to other important things, which may be going on in the group such as, who leads whom or who influences whom. When we observe what the group is talking about, we are focusing on the content. When we try to observe how the group handles its communication, i.e., who talks to whom, we are talking about group process. At a simpler level, looking at processes really means to focus on what is going on in the group and trying to understand it in terms of other things that have gone on in the group.
Decision– Many kinds of decisions are made in groups. Some members try to impose their own decisions on others, while some want all to participate or take shared decisions. Some decisions are made consciously after much debate and voting, others are made silently, with no objection. It is important to understand whether the decision was self-authorized, by majority or consensus; and how was it taken and what was the contribution of each member?
Influence– Some people may speak very little, yet they may capture the attention of the whole group. Others may talk a lot but other members may pay little attention to them. There is a need to observe, which members are high in influence i.e. when they talk others seem to listen and which members are low in influence i.e. others do not listen to them or follow them. Is there any shifting of influence? Also pay attention to any rivalry in the group? Is there a struggle for leadership? What effect does it have on other group members?
Group Task The group’s task is to get the job done. People who are concerned with the task tend to make suggestions as to the best way to proceed or deal with a problem; attempt to summarize what has been covered or what has been going on in the group; give or ask for facts, ideas, opinions, feelings, feedback, or search for alternatives and keep the group on target; prevent going off on tangents. Relationship means how well people in the group work together. People who are concerned with relationship tend to be more concerned with how people feel than how much they know. They help others to get into the discussion, try to reconcile disagreements and encourage people with friendly remarks and gestures. A group member who can play a variety of tasks and relationship roles and can avoid self-oriented roles will be most helpful to the group.
Role– Behaviour in the group can be of various types e.g. helping the group to accomplish its task, helping the group to accomplish its task, helping group members to get along (relationship) and self-oriented behaviour, which contributes to neither group task nor group relationship. The examples of these types of behaviour are called roles. The task roles are, initiating, seeking giving information or opinion, interpreting ideas or just summarizing.
Membership– One major concern for group members is the degree of acceptance or inclusion they feel in the group. This can generally get influenced if there are any sub-groupings? Sometimes two or three members may consistently agree and support each other or consistently disagree and oppose one another, or some people seem to be outside the group?
Feelings– During any group activities, feelings are frequently generated by the interactions between members. These feelings, however, are seldom talked about, but guesses based on tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures and many other forms.
Norms– Standard or group rules always develop in a group in order to control the behavior of members. Norms usually express the beliefs or desires of the majority of the group members as to what behaviors should or should not take place in the group. These norms may be clear to all members (explicit), known or sensed by only a few (implicit), or operating completely below the level of awareness of any group members.
Group Maturity– Group maturity is defined as the ability and willingness of group members to set goals and work toward their accomplishment. Assessing group maturity is especially important for a group leader. An immature group needs direction. Directive leadership is usually best. If a group is very mature then non-directive leadership is usually best. In between the extremes of very mature and very immature, democratic leadership will be the best bet depending on the situation.
Conclusion The individual’s personality can be better observed firstly, when he is communicating in a group and secondly, by his actions when he is interacting with others in the group discussion and group takes. The true picture of the individual is exhibited when he is under controlled stress due to presence of his peers, imposed time limitation and difficulty in finding out the solutions to problems. The way he influences other members of the group to execute his thoughts and get influenced by others’ ideas to modify his own thought process within the stipulated time, holds special significance.
To enhance your concentration and powers of focus, count your steps when you walk. This is a particularly strong technique. Take six steps while taking a long inhale, hold your breath for another six steps, and then exhale for six steps. If six steps is too long for the breaths, do whatever you feel comfortable with.
When the group discussion starts, most of the conversation takes place in English. Sometimes a thought comes to your mind but you cannot express it in English. At such a situation you can definitely speak Hindi. You should not hesitate. Your confidence is also an important aspect which is being judged.