Conflict Resolution Games: Life, Death, and Career Consequences

By on / Teaching Negotiation

High-Stakes Conflict Resolution Games

In Drug Testing in the Workplace—a popular role-play from the TNRC—a truck driver tests positive for marijuana in a random drug test. To play this conflict resolution game, participants assume the roles of truck driver, personnel director, and a representative from the Employee Assistance
Program Center, and then explore the question:

What is the truth and what are the consequences?

At the start of this conflict resolution game, there are many questions: Did the truck driver take drugs? Does a positive drug test indicate impaired job performance? What should happen when an employee tests positive for drugs? Eventually, it’s revealed that the driver only tested positive because of passive exposure, not because he used the drug himself. Yet, still the parties must decide the best course of action.

In this negotiation, participants learn how to:

  • Explore mutual gains alternatives, such as testing for impairment instead of testing for drugs
  • Understand the role and value of a mediator—in this case the representative from the Employee Assistance Program Center
  • Manage intense emotions such as guilt and anger in the context of the negotiation

As a result of the misuse of prescription drugs at Williams Medical Center, a woman is dead and a man is paralyzed. In the wake of these catastrophes, there are lawsuits, brutal press coverage, and other devastating ramifications. With Williams Medical Center, one of the many conflict resolution games brought to you by the Program on Negotiation’s Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC), participants must work to restore the hospital’s reputation.

In this five-party negotiation, participants—in their roles as members of the hospital’s Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee—must develop a comprehensive drug prescription policy that convinces the press and the public that the Center is still in the forefront of its field. Specifically, participants explore the question:

How do you repair a tarnished reputation?

During the course of this role-play, participants learn to:

  • Better understand their Best Alternatives to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNAs)
  • Prevent personality disagreements from derailing the negotiation
  • Find common ground by exploring contingent agreements
  • Discern the interests of both allies and those working on the other side of the bargaining table
  • Invent options for mutual gain by using creative thinking

These are just two of the many role-plays available through the TNRC. In fact, we have an entire section dedicated to health, medicine, and pharmaceutical negotiation role-plays like Williams Medical Center and Drug Testing in the Workplace.

Healthcare is one of the largest industries globally, with billions of dollars spent on treatments and research. While healthcare is definitely a “big business,” medical disputes can deeply affect people’s personal lives. The fact that life and death are actual issues in many medical negotiations means the stakes are even higher.

To enable participants to gain experience exploring complex and emotionally fraught issues in an educational environment, the TNRC offers a variety of role-plays focused on health-care related disputes such as medical malpractice.

TNRC: A go-to resource for more than 25 years

In addition to offering more than 200 negotiation conflict resolution games, the TNRC offers a wide range of effective teaching materials, including:

TNRC materials are designed for educational purposes. They are used in college classroom settings or corporate training settings; used by mediators and facilitators seeking to introduce their clients to a process or issue; and used by individuals who want to enhance their negotiation skills and knowledge.

Role-play simulations introduce participants to new negotiation and dispute resolution tools, techniques and strategies. Our videos, books, case studies, and periodicals are also a helpful way of introducing viewers to key concepts while addressing the theory and practice of negotiation and conflict management.

Check out all that the TNRC has in store >>

Originally published in 2014.

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