Phases in a Group Discussion: Introduction, Central Group Discussion and Summarization

To work in any organization, it is essential to work in a team because no organization can run with a single man. They mostly require workforce and people who can work well in a group and produce results. To evaluate these things, many organizations do conduct group discussion before a personal interview. Though there is no fixed structure as to how many rounds or phase should be there in a group discussion. As per general views, there could be 3-4 phases:

Initiation or Orientation: This is the first stage of group discussion. People start to come together in this phase and wait for the guidelines to be stated. This step is quite uncertain as nobody knows who would initiate the discussion, where it would actually head? Members of the group can feel the anxiety. This stage of the group discussion sets the tone for the initial phase. This also gives an understanding of the group members and their views. They become familiar with each other. Like in any project it is decided what should be the next course of action, what are the pointers to take care of, discussion of major milestones, etc. Similarly, in a group discussion, this first initial phase is all about these things.

If you choose to initiate the discussion, you have to be extra cautious. Starting the discussion at first creates 50-50 chances for you. If you do it well with your data, facts, logic and your communication skills, you can easily get the attention of the rest of the team and judgment panel. But if you start the discussion just for the sake of doing it, it can also go against you. As in cricket opening Batsman play a vital role, and it is determined how the match will proceed, likewise opening a discussion is critical but if done well, is a rewarding place as well. While initiating a discussion you can also give a quotation, definition, statement, short story, facts, and figures.

Conflict/Power Battle: When there is a group, and discussion is going on, a power struggle is inevitable. Group members may challenge each other with the facts, data, and statistics. Conflict and competition are at its peak. Members can come up with the burning issues, and a debate takes place. Agreement and opposition of each other’s statements go hand in hand. Everyone is now involved. They throw questions on each other and ask for clarifications. Some members emerge as a dominant whereas some are comfortable with other’s answers and clarifications. This phase is a complete power battle of one on another. This can sometimes be provoking as there comes a challenge to be heard by others and the judging panel. Differences in thought process become apparent in this phase.

It is suggested that in this phase of group discussion, stay calm, active but empathetic leader. Give time to everyone to speak. Express your thoughts and feelings in a lucid manner. Stay reverent and creative in your ideas and words. This is the time when you can show your problem-solving skills and creative bent of mind.

Collaboration/Teamwork: After the power struggle, there comes a time when group members become calm and then it becomes easier to work in a group. Open communication happens between team members, and if there is any conflict, it gets resolved in a comparatively easy manner. Leadership becomes still necessary to continue the process and give it a right direction. Information, in this phase, flows effortlessly due to the sense of security group members now feel at this stage of discussion. In this phase group members begin to resolve their differences and appreciate other’s skills and competence.

Execution/Performance: When the group moves into this fourth stage of the discussion, it comes to a performing stage, wherein they need to prove themselves. Competency, attitude, and aptitude are well observed in this phase of the discussion. Skills like problems solving, teamwork and decision making can be evaluated through this stage. Group members are now focused towards reaching their goal. The group does not take any decision; instead decisions naturally transpire from group collaboration during this phase. Group members slowly and gradually move towards unanimity.

Conclusion/Closure: After all the stages, this is the fifth and supposedly the last phase of the group discussion. The group members enter this stage with a strong evolving decision. During this phase, some of the members will agree to the point, and some will not be so. This is quite natural as everyone has their own views and right to express. This could be a learning phase as well. People can learn from the good pointers discussion through the group interaction.

While it is true that not all the group discussion reaches to a conclusion where everyone becomes assertive towards the point, but the entire discussion should still be summarized at the end. One can take the initiative to summarize the group discussion or the facilitator can do it. If you are going to play this part, remembers that no new point should be dug while summarizing the group discussion. It should only be stated in a nutshell. Do not just state or impose your own points, but consider the points also that others have put forth. Do not add any new angle to the topic, just summarize and conclude the whole topic.

Important Tip: To become a part of any group discussing, start improving your general awareness and knowledge of current affairs, happenings, issues, and environment. To keep abreast of the latest happening around the world, you can read newspapers, political, social, Economics and business magazines. A lot of information is available on the Internet, but that needs to be chosen judiciously as not all the information is helpful.

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