Negotiation Exercises for Improving Team Success

by Mar 26, 2018

We all know that negotiations are important in business.

Unfortunately, most people aren’t doing nearly enough to refine their abilities.

Negotiation is something you can learn, but it’s also a skill that gets rusty without continuous practice, especially during the early years of one’s career.


3 Negotiation Exercises You Should Be Using

If you want better negotiators, you need to keep pushing them to improve. One easy way to do this is with the following negotiation exercises.


1. Role-Playing to Target Certain Weaknesses

Everyone has their weaknesses when it comes to negotiating.

Therefore, one of the negotiation exercises I recommend is for participants to write theirs down before they role play a negotiation with a partner.

To ensure the other party’s performance isn’t affected, the “salesperson” shouldn’t reveal what their weakness is. They also shouldn’t tell the other team members, who are observing.

At the end of the “negotiation,” everyone should report what they think the salesperson did best and where there is room to improve. After that, the salesperson reveals the weakness they were working on.

Ideally, that will be what most people thought they did best. A lot of times, the supposed weakness isn’t brought up at all, which might mean that it’s not much of a problem. Maybe it’s just in the person’s head and they should concentrate on one of the other weak points the audience mentioned.


2. Finding the Win-Win Result

I wholeheartedly believe in the prospect of a win-win outcome. It’s something I put a lot of emphasis on when I coach my students.

Unfortunately, many people have a hard time negotiating for a win-win result.

They believe winning is everything and they haven’t “won” unless there’s been conflict and the other person lost.

It means they need practice so win-win becomes their natural target in negotiations, not all-or-nothing.

To do this, create scenarios where the “salesperson” is at a distinct disadvantage, so they’ll have to do some mental legwork to earn a win-win situation (and all-or-nothing is virtually impossible).

Once you’ve created a scenario that would be realistic to your industry, ask them to find an opportunity to create a more level playing field and, thus, work for a win-win:

  • Check Their Assumptions – Are they really at a disadvantage? Is the “imbalance” real or would other information prove it was an erroneous assumption?
  • Expand Their Possibilities – Are there other companies with whom they could negotiate? Could they improve their position by considering other companies/people that could provide the desired outcome?
  • Change the Subject – Could they offer other benefits aside from the obvious ones? Could potential opportunities in the future be leveraged for bargaining power? Has the salesperson considered all of the other party’s goals? They may be able to help with others in exchange for certain accommodations with the present deal.

Doing negotiation exercises like these will be good for all team members as it will help expand their mind to find win-win opportunities. Again, it’s especially powerful for any member who tends to use any perceived advantage to “win” at any cost.


3. Play the Two-Dollar Game

This has become one of the most popular negotiation exercises and can be a lot of fun for a team of new employees. It originated at MIT and only requires 6 to 10 people to play.


Round 1

Pair them up at random and tell them they have $2 to split. One person’s job is to try to negotiate for as much of the $2 as possible.

The other people will be told – in secret – to aim for one of the following total amounts, if not more:

  • $00.50
  • $00.80
  • $1.00
  • $1.30
  • $1.60

Pairs then have 10 minutes to negotiate. Tell them there will be three total rounds and they’ll have new partners for each one.

Round 2

Give everyone a new partner and give one of the following instructions to each pair (again, in secret):

  • One person can say anything they want to get as much of the $2 as possible. The other person doesn’t actually need to reach a settlement. Tell them they’ll have another chance to negotiate with a new partner in the next round.
  • One person is to play the role of a ruthless negotiator. The other person is told they’ll never see this ruthless negotiator again, but everyone they know is waiting to see how well they’ll do. They can say anything they want to get as much of the $2 as possible.
  • One person is told that the other in the pair is untrustworthy. The second person is told that their main goal is to reach some kind of agreement, even if it means accepting less than half of the $2.
  • One person is directed to say as little as possible. Their partner is told that the other person responds extremely well to questions.
  • One person is told to be firm and create tension. The other is told that their reputation is at stake and will be decided based on their actions during the negotiation and the outcome they get.

Round 3

Despite the fact that people will think they’re to switch partners again, they’ll actually keep the same one. There are no secret instructions, either. Players can use any strategy they want.

The reason for this “twist” is to demonstrate why it’s so important to find mutually-beneficial outcomes. If you try working for win-lose, it’s going to eventually come back and bite you.

Players who were “tough” or allowed to say whatever they wanted will now have to win over a partner who just got done dealing with that mentality for 10 minutes.


Negotiation Exercises Are a Great Way to Ensure Ongoing Development

Negotiations are too important to the future of your business to leave their outcomes to chance. Instead, negotiation exercises should be a regular part of your ongoing training.

Speaking of which, RedRock Leadership offers an eight-week Systematic Foundation™ program that will show you just how easy it can be to create win-win outcomes during your negotiations.

RedRock Leadership’s Take the Lead!™ program is designed to make you a better leader so you can design a team that is able to create desirable results on a regular basis.

Proper coaching will give you the tools you need to succeed. Ongoing exercises will ensure those tools remain applicable when you need them most.

Jeff Ruby

Jeff Ruby

Founder of RedRock Leadership

During the course of his professional career, he has worked in organizations ranging in size from a sole practitioner to Fortune 500. Included in his experience are roles in starting and selling companies, sales and sales management, training and development and executive coaching.

RedRock Leadership is a sales training and leadership development company committed to growing companies by growing individuals through on-going training infused with the competencies of emotional intelligence.