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February 27, 2015

Negotiations Training Games and Activities

Business

Jeff Cochran

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Employers are always looking for new negotiations training  activities that engage people and produce effective results. Negotiators need to learn communication skills, appropriate aggression and ambition, how to think from a different perspective, how to deal with difficult people, and more. Here are some innovative games and activities worth trying for your negotiations training:

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  1. Role-Playing 

Defining a scenario, whether realistic or off-the wall fiction, can boost confidence, develop listening skills, and train creative problem-solving techniques. Role-playing is where one person describes a situation and other people respond to it. Also called cooperative-storytelling, the narrator defines a problem or enacts an imaginary stranger and the role-players then need to work together to handle the situation. This negotiation training provides a controlled environment where people may test and practice their negotiation skills without fear of bad consequences. 

  1. Body Language Activities 

Create a game, like charades, where one “speaker” has to communicate a message without speaking. As others guess the message, the  “speaker” refines body language until the message is communicated. This entertaining exercise helps people test what gesticulations work and which do not. 

More tied to real-life scenarios, watch movie scenes or public debates in which negotiations are taking place. Have your group observe non-verbal cues, including vocal fluctuations. Write these down then have each participant share their observations with the group afterwards. 

A third activity is to play a variation of Simon says or follow the leader. Designate one participant “negotiator” and one “client.” Make up a creative scenario where the negotiator and client represent different companies in a negotiation, each with different goals and assets to draw from. Divide all other participants in the room into two groups with each group mimicking the non-verbal cues of the negotiator or client. As the activity progresses, everyone will become self-conscious about the body language being used. Let each person have a turn in the negotiation. Afterwards, discuss observations on the effectiveness of different types of body language. 

  1. Arm Wrestle 

Set up the following game to help people become aware of their assumptions and disposition when entering a negotiation situation. Participants will become aware of whether they aim for “beating” the other person or try to find a conclusion with mutual benefits.

Direct two participants to a table with hands clasped and elbows in an arm wrestling position. Tell them they have two main rules. First, a participant gains one point if the back of their partner’s hand touches the table. Second, the goal is to get as many points as possible without concern for anyone else. Explain that each point will earn a candy after ten seconds of wrestling. Debrief by asking people why they got their score and how they could approach the “negotiation” differently. Help them become aware of and challenge their initial assumptions.

These are just a few of the creative ways to increase people’s self-awareness of their negotiations assumptions and communication skills. Think outside the box and come up with similar negotiations training exercises.

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