Working alone is difficult, but group work is even more challenging. Alone, you can make instantaneous decisions and changes without having to worry about how it will affect other persons. However, group work and by extension, group discussion is a part of every aspect of our lives, and we cannot push it under the rug, hoping it goes away. So what now? How can you prepare yourself to be a good team player and have positive and engaging group discussions with members of your team? This article will give you some pointers on how to develop your skills and be productive during group discussions.
Firstly, even before you meet with the group, you must prepare yourself for the discussion. It makes no sense arriving to discuss about a topic, and you have no idea what the topic is about. Do your research, read reviews and see what other persons are saying about the topic and make notes. Arm yourself with the knowledge you need to support and defend any points which may arise during the discussion. This also shows that you are prepared to engage in wholesome discussion and not just coming to the meeting because you feel obligated.
On the day of the meeting, be early! It sets an unprofessional tone when you show up late for a meeting. It sends a message to other members that the discussion is meaningless and an inconvenience to your daily schedule. Dress comfortably but appropriate for the meeting so you don’t focus on how much your feet hurt or how badly you want to take off this tie, but you are engaged and focused on the discussion.
We hear, but we do not listen. Many persons neglect to admit that listening is an art which they don’t possess. Listening is of utmost importance when doing group discussions and it can help to avoid repetition of points which is ultimately a waste of time. When meeting with the group, before any discussion starts everyone should state their interpretation of the topic. Often, persons start out with a misguided idea about what the topic is about, and this leads to complications further into the discussion. Members need to express their thoughts on the topic so everyone can begin the discussion on the same page.
Know the Group Dynamic
Understanding the group dynamic can go a long way in making the discussion successful. Some personalities may mesh while others may clash. However that doesn’t mean that people cannot work together to achieve a common goal. With a better comprehension of the dynamic, the group would be able to overcome any obstacle even though they may have different personalities.
Give everyone a voice
Getting into the actual discussion, group members must remember that being respectful is most important and that opinions and facts are two different things. Persons tend to get frustrated when their voice isn’t heard or when others seem to be dismissive of their views. A good discussion requires a mutual level of respect by everyone involved, and to continue to be respectful even if there are disagreements. Remember those notes you made before the discussion? Here’s where they come in very handy as you present your views to the other members of the group. Notes help you to stay on topic while getting your point across and stop you from rambling into unnecessary side talk that isn’t productive. Maintain your position on points which you are convinced are right and feel passionate about. Many times we are swayed by other group members, who may have a forceful personality, to change our views. If you are convinced about your point, stick to it and bring the evidence to validate it.
Take the Initiative
Taking the initiative is also a good way to improve the performance in group discussions. At times, a task may come up, and it needs to be delegated to a member to be completed, in some cases for the discussion to move forward. Stepping up to the challenge is a good way to show your ability to get the job done as well as flexing your leadership muscles. This allows persons to see you in a different setting and also gives you the opportunity to showcase your skills.
Concluding a discussion is just as important as any other part. This allows persons to make their final statements, tasks to be delegated, people to publicly state if they have changed opinions as a result of the discussion and it also facilitates arranging a follow-up meeting if necessary. Group discussions can be fun, once properly organized and monitored so that it is productive and respectful to all persons involved.