According to Wikipedia, Body language is a form of non-verbal communication, which consists of body posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements. Humans send and interpret such signals subconsciously.
It is said that human communication consists of 93% body language and para-linguistic cues, while only 7% of communication consists of words. Surprising – Isn’t it? Body language may provide clues about the attitude or state of mind of a person. For example, it may indicate boredom through sitting with legs crossed, foot kicking slightly, head resting in hand, eyes downcast; Impatience through tapping or drumming fingers; Confidence, superiority through sitting with hands clasped behind head, legs crossed; Insecurity, nervousness through biting nails; Disbelief through looking down, face turned away.
Three most important parameters for evaluation in a b-school group discussion are Knowledge (that is displayed), Communication – both verbal and Non Verbal and above all Group Behavior. While all three play an important role in the selection procedure, I have tried to touch upon the importance of Body Language in the following write-up
As the saying goes, Actions speak louder than words. You might have done intensive research and might have the best of the content ready to be delivered in the GD, you may have outstanding qualities to lead the group, you may have spoken relevant and concrete, you may have structured your discussion well with relevant arguments and facts but the whole effort is a waste if you don’t have the right body language.
Watch out for these tips that may prove valuable at the GD/PI stage after clearing the first round of CAT:
Sit Right: You should sit straight in a GD/PI. Don’t stoop or slouch or bend forward. At the same time, you should not be absolutely stiff – remain in a comfortable posture.
Maintain Eye Contact: Avoid maintaining eye contact with only one or two persons in the group. This signifies that you are alienating the rest of the members. Speaker should address the entire group and listeners should maintain an eye contact with the speaker to show interest in the discussion. Looking towards ceiling or floor shows lack of interest or confidence
Avoid Aggressive Gestures: Pointing fingers generally signifies talking in anger or that you are accusing someone. Use of violent hand movements in such a manner that it enters a group member’s space is also a sign that one is losing composure. Gentle hand movements should be used to elucidate one’s point of view
Avoid Signs of Distraction: You should not engage your hands in inapt activities such as scratching, pricking, rubbing, playing with pens and key chains, fiddling with rings, grooming hair etc.
Avoid Sitting with Arms/Legs Crossed: When you sit with crossed arms/legs or both, it refers to a closed mindset; It signals that you are not ready to listen to/accept others’ point of view.
Do not fidget: You should not fidget or move uncomfortably in your chair. Try to avoid such movements and nervous tics such as shaking your leg or tapping your fingers on the table.
Control your facial expressions: Control your facial expression and avoid showing your anger/disgust/frustration on your face. Also don’t smirk, smile or laugh unnecessarily.
Avoid moving your legs: Moving legs signals impatience. If you keep moving your legs, you will communicate that you want to get through quickly with the GD/PI process
Nodding while listening: Nod once in a while to signal that you are listening. But don’t overdo it and peck like Woody Woodpecker 🙂
Maintain a composed tone: Do not rush through your sentences. Speaking slower not only makes you seem more calm and confident, but also makes you feel less stressed
You can pick some of these tips to work on in GD sessions that you are a part of at your CAT coaching. By the 4th / 5th session, they should have transformed into new habits and something you’ll do without even thinking about them. If you don not improve, keep practicing till it sticks. Then take another couple of things you’d like to change and work on them.
I agree that it is difficult to keep all these things in mind and you are not a programmed robot that can switch inherent gestures/habits so easily but the best part is that all of us falter at some gesture or the other. If not best at least we can be better than our competitors.
This piece is written by a GD-PI expert at MBAGuru who has trained more than 2500 students for GD-PI and has helped hundreds of students get into IIMs and other top b-schools.
Getting into ISB has been my dream from the very beginning and MBAGuru made this dream come true by helping me prepare for GMAT and get through with the application process. I am thankful to to this institution for letting the students get taught by wonderful teachers like Tina Ma’am and Vaibhav Sir, and helping students like met to achieve my goals..