Teach Your Students Dispute Resolution for Their Everyday Lives

By — on / Teaching Negotiation

conflict management

Negotiation refers to the process of working out agreements that meet each party’s needs and address their interests. People negotiate all the time in their everyday lives: in the workplace, within families, and when buying goods and services. Knowing which negotiation strategies to use in different circumstances can make a significant difference. The Teaching Negotiation Resource Center (TNRC) has a wide variety of role play simulations that can be used to teach the most important negotiation and dispute resolution skills students will need to rely on in their everyday lives, not just in their jobs and professional roles.

The Blender – Featured Dispute Resolution Simulation

This 30-minute, two-party, nonscorable, single-issue negotiation is between a customer and a department store clerk about the return of a defective blender. Major lessons include:

  • Identifying when parties slip into a negative, reactive mode, with unsatisfactory outcomes often resulting.
  • Parties willing to consider the perceptions and interests of the other party as relevant can usually engage effectively in mutually beneficial joint problem-solving.
  • The persuasive effect of threats, cajoling, anger, helplessness, crying and other techniques can be explored.

This negotiation works well as one-on-one, but can be extended to two-on-one, by including another participant on either side. It takes no more than five minutes to run; debriefing can last up to half an hour with several replays. The exercise can be run as is, or one or both parties can be given additional psychological instructions about their character. Download a FREE Teacher’s Package today to learn more.

Book Contract – Featured Dispute Resolution Simulation

This two-party, one hour, single-issue, scorable, distributive negotiation is between a publisher and a literary agent over the advance payment for the agent’s unpublished but very promising client. Terry Holtz, a senior editor with a highly regarded, independent publishing firm has received a proposed book entitled Entrepreneurial Schools written by a young, up and coming, but never before published author. Terry is extremely interested in the book and is willing to pay an exceptionally high author’s advance for the book. Jay McIntyre is a successful literary agent and represents Rachel Leonard, author of Entrepreneurial Schools. Jay has shown Rachel’s manuscript to one other publishing firm than Terry’s and has since found out that they are not interested. This coupled with Rachel’s professional ambitions, which would be helped greatly by the visibility that comes with publication, has made Rachel anxious to close the deal with Terry’s firm fast. She has told Jay to settle for what he can get from Terry’s firm, but not to leave any money on the table. Major lessons include:

  • This exercise is an excellent vehicle for comparing principled negotiation and positional bargaining. Depending on the skill of the other negotiator, both approaches can do well. Both parties should be risk averse, however, and wary of an adversarial approach that might get out of hand.
  • The knowledge that one’s BATNA is weak often leads people to negotiate much less vigorously than they otherwise would. Is this ever justified? If so, under what conditions? The case affords a good opportunity to point out that any such analysis should be based on a consideration of the parties’ relative BATNA’s.
  • Since the case does have a strong competitive element, there is ample opportunity to explore techniques for indirectly and directly extracting information from the other side. Likewise, techniques of protecting oneself from “giving up” the possibility for gains that were unforeseen can be explored and discussed.

Download a FREE Teacher’s Package today to learn more.

Take your training to the next level with the TNRC

The Teaching Negotiation Resource Center offers a wide range of effective teaching materials, including

TNRC negotiation exercises and teaching 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.

Negotiation exercises and 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 students to key concepts while addressing the theory and practice of negotiation and conflict management.

Which negotiation exercises have helped you? Let us know in the comments.

Check out all that the TNRC has in store >>

The Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School
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