Group Discussion: A Strategy for Enhancing Soft Skills

Mr. K. Karkuvel Raja M.A.

Research Scholar, The American College, Madurai 625 002

Background of the study

            Business organizations are made up of personnel who play a vital role in attaining profit and progress.  Soft skills are mandatory for an employee to work in an organization.  Teamwork, group activity, team compatibility becomes essential in the modern business world.  Personnel have to make sure that he/she has developed the required soft skills to work in an organization.  Communication is a part and parcel of business environment.  Miscommunication of the data leads to misunderstanding between the personnel in a team.  Group discussion is an activity that tests the team co-ordination, compatibility and coexistence to a great level.  So, interpersonal relationship has to be improved to maintain unity among the employees.  Thus, more emphasis is given to the group discussion which not only helps to develop communication skills but also to improve the soft shills of the personnel.

Hypothesis

            The researcher attempts to prove that group discussion can be considered as an effective strategy in improving soft skills of the personnel.  Enhancement of communication skills is achieved during the course of group discussion.

Research Questions

  1. Why should a learner learn Soft Skills?
  2. How soft skills can be acquired?
  3. If group discussion a strategy for acquiring soft skills?
  4. How can group discussion help to improve communication skills?
  5. How can Group discussion be implemented in a Classroom?
  6. What is the role of the teacher while conducting a group discussion?

Discussions

            Business is not only about profit and loss, it also involves with the management of human resources.  For a learner of Business Administration course, the need to have Soft skills is of high priority.  Soft skills develop the personality of an individual.  The attitude, behavior, personality plays a vital role in the organizational behavior.  Soft skills groom an individual’s personality by making them adjustable to the working environment.  Proper behavior, attitude can be achieved only through soft skills.

            For a learner of Business Administration, the need to learn soft skills is inevitable.  The learners should learn soft skills in order to make them flexible to different complex situations.  The leadership quality, coordination, time management and other quality can be only possessed by individuals who have acquired soft skills.  Business students who are trying to enter into the business world should consider soft skills as a mandatory factor.  Soft skills help to trim one’s personality and make it suitable for the working environment.  Thus soft skill has to be acquired by the learners so that, they can become successful in their business in future.

            Acquisition of Soft skills is fundamental for everyone in the modern scenario.  Soft skills cannot be learned, it can only be acquired.  Teaching soft skills to a learner is not enough, and then the true purpose of soft skills will be degraded.  Printed materials and notes cannot be enough to teach soft skills.  Practical experience and training helps the learner to acquire soft skills.  Leadership rights, coordination, cooperation, and tem work can be achieved only when learners are put into such a situation.  Practical knowledge paves the way for the acquisition of interpersonal relationships.  Situations are the perfect masters to teach soft skills.  Thus, acquisition of soft skills has to be obtained practically and not theoretically.

            Group discussion has become a part of the cooperate sector.  Group discussion is even considered as a stage in the selection process of an interview.  Even students of Business Administration are taught that the group discussion as a management game.  Group discussion is considered is an activity that gives opportunities for all the participants to quote their ideas.  Situational analysis and decision making plays a tricky role in the progression of a business.  Nowadays, Group discussion has been promoted from a management activity to a common activity that all are meant to perform.

            For an individual to sustain in a group; coordination, cooperation, team work, correlation, and trust are fundamental.  Group discussion provides the chance to improve coordination among the group.  Each and every individual can contribute to the discussion which encourages them.  The participation of all the individuals makes them believe that they are also important for the group.  By listening to other’s ideas and opinions mutual understanding between the learners can be enhanced.  Leadership ability can be tested with the help of these kinds of discussions.  Encouragement, motivation leads to a healthy discussion.  All these traits shape the personality of the personal.

            Group discussion provides opportunities for all the participants.  By giving their ideas in front of all other participants’ one can learn how to speak in a group.  Giving space for others to speak, team unity can be improved.  Through discussions the participants can know about one another, their coordination can reach the greater level.  Team work is the key element for every business.  Students who want to enter into business should possess interpersonal relationships in order to run a business.

            Language is essential for a communication.  Even though business communication is different from the ordinary communication, Language plays a vital role in it.  For a communication to happen proficiency over a language has to be improved.  In group discussion, communication makes the discussion worthwhile.  It is in the part of the participants to avoid miscommunication.  The information that is spoken in the discussion should be accurate.  All the ideas should be noted so that the individuals will feel that they are given importance in the discussion.  They are certain nuisances for how to conduct a group discussion.  All those should be taken into consideration in a discussion.

            Communication skill can be enhanced through group discussion.  For a business man, communication is mandatory.  Communication determines to the profit and loss of the business.  For a learner of business administration, Communication is much important as the management skills.  Students should have good language proficiency so that they can be fluent and flawless in their communication.  Proper practice and experience can help the students to improve their interpersonal relationship.  In a classroom the discussions should be provided for them to gain more soft skills.  By giving those situations which can acquire in the business and making them discuss their views knowledge about the problems in the business can be obtained.

            In business, art of communication is must.  One must know when to speak and how to speak.  Giving right information at the wrong time may also ruin the Business process.  Group discussion also teaches the art of communication.  Interactive skills can be improved by practicing group discussion.  The freedom to communicate and address the group encourages the students to speak.  Group discussion is not only a management tool for business students but also a strategic tool to improve interactive and soft skills of the students

            Soft skills are essential for all students.  It plays an important role in our life.  Grooming one’s personality is much important as gaining knowledge.  Classrooms are the place where ample opportunities are provided for the students to nurture their personalities.  Group discussion can be performed in a Classroom; this increases the involvement of the students and encourages them to participate in all other activities.  Making students to discuss an issue in a classroom helps them to understand about a group and its behavior.

            By putting forth an argument among students their knowledge on that specific topic can also be examined.  The knowledge they possess over that issue will help them to solve business problems in future.  Problem analysis and decision has to be done simultaneously.  In group discussion, students are provided with the chance of knowing more about a single issue and they can also get much solution which can solve that issue.  Students of all discipline should be given soft skills training so that they can cultivate good interpersonal skills.

            If group discussion is to be done in a classroom, teacher should take a key role.  The teacher should act as a guide in need.  The teacher should teach about the soft skills before conducting the discussion so that the students will know about the skills that they have to develop.  During the discussion, the teacher has to make sure that all the students participate in the discussion.  Repeated participation of a single student has to be avoided.  Teacher should act as a facilitator during the course of the discussion.  A model group discussion can help the learners to know the reason behind the group discussion.  After the discussion is over the teacher has to identify the skills that the individual is lacking and the skills that the individual is good at.  From the next time onwards, the teacher should stay out of the discussion; so that the students can perform freely without any intrusion.  By repeatedly making the students engage in such programs soft skills can be enhanced.

            Group discussion is seen to be a management activity but it has influence over one’s personality.  An individual can be judged by the way he performs in the group discussion.  Personality of an individual can be examined with his/ her performance in a discussion.  Attitude, time management, coordination and the leadership quality can be improved during the course of a group discussion.  By making students practice and involve themselves in such task based activities like group discussion; the involvement of the students and their interest will also be encouraged.  Time management plays an important role in our life.  Group discussion is a strategy to avoid unwanted communication.  Thus, in total group discussion can be considered as a strategy to cultivate soft skills.  So it is necessary for all the students to practically participate in a group discussion.  By doing so, not only interpersonal relationships but also all the other soft skills of an individual can be developed.

Reference

O’Connor, M. C., & Michaels, S. (1996). Shifting participant frameworks: Orchestrating thinking practices in group discussion. Discourse, learning, and schooling, 63-103.

Gigerenzer, G., & Selten, R. (2002). Bounded rationality: The adaptive toolbox. MIT press.

Bass, B. M. (1949). An analysis of the leaderless group discussion. Journal of Applied Psychology33(6), 527.

Stasser, G., & Titus, W. (1985). Pooling of unshared information in group decision making: Biased information sampling during discussion. Journal of personality and social psychology48(6), 1467.

Aronson, E., & Mills, J. (1959). The effect of severity of initiation on liking for a group. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology59(2), 177.

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