Teaching with Video-Based Negotiation Scenarios

Teach Negotiation Exercises Using A Realistic Context

By — on / Teaching Negotiation

Negotiation Scenarios

Access to multimedia content has rapidly increased throughout the world, with videos and short clips permeating our daily life. We are consuming, producing, and interacting with videos more now than ever before. In light of increasing video fluency and interest in using videos in education, the Program on Negotiation’s Teaching Negotiation Resource Center has a digital video library of teaching material – making online delivery quicker, easier and cheaper – and continues to dedicate resources towards producing more video-based negotiation scenarios.

Current Trends

Back in 2015 at a Teaching Negotiation Symposium with more than 120 negotiation teachers and trainers in attendance, over 85% of survey respondents affirmed that video was a “valuable” asset in their classrooms. Over half of the respondents were adamant that video was in fact “very valuable” in their teaching.

To further study this trend of the use of video in education, specifically, as it relates to teaching negotiation, the TNRC invited Hal Movius, co-author of Built To Win (with Lawrence Susskind) and founder and president of Movius Consulting, to present “Reel Life: Making and Using Films to Teach Negotiation”. Hal is a pioneer in developing corporate video-based negotiation scenarios and has created a number of videos to help organizations train staff in negotiation techniques.

Video as a Teaching Tool

Hal explains: “As a psychologist by training, I became very interested in how people respond to film. It provokes a much deeper experience than would talking or reading about a given situation.” Video-based negotiation scenarios convey lessons in a different way than a lecture, discussion, or even role-play might convey. Students who are well read in negotiation theory gain explicit “knowledge structures” with “correct” and “incorrect” answers to negotiation practices. These students define theory without fully grasping the subtle nuances required in a realistic context. Hal noticed that, after reviewing interactions in the videos, trainees reacted to the lessons with more than the common stock “correct” answers, and seemed to react with better implicit theories about negotiation.

4 Ways to Use Video in Your Class

Hal separated negotiation scenario videos into four different formats, with each providing a distinct learning opportunity:

  • Queries to the audience: In this format, an actor poses a negotiation problem to the audience, at which point the trainer pauses the video and asks the participants to discuss the problem.
  • Single vignettes: This format includes simulations of negotiation preparation meetings, at-the-table negotiations, coaching, facilitative learning, agency dilemmas, side meetings, and approaches to handling difficult people. Actors depict various techniques and skill sets in these role-plays.
  • Paired vignettes: This structure compares and contrasts behaviors and negotiation styles in situations described above.
  • Multi-scene stories: This video takes the shape of a realistic negotiation drama that unfolds over time with protagonists and back-table communications, and illustrates common barriers and challenges.

Each of the formats models different negotiation practices – preparation, moves at the table, coalition-building strategies, and other techniques and strategies. Each provides trainers and teachers with important teaching tools.

Carefully constructed queries following the viewing of a single negotiation scenario video can be used to evoke implicit theories. The trainer can use the “choice point approach” — pausing the video at any time and forcing students to respond quickly to events on the screen — to stimulate conversations about negotiation techniques or organizational behavior. Other simulations are valuable because they model negotiation complexity and provoke emotional responses reminiscent of real negotiations. Hal clarified:

“When you see two people acting in an intense role-play with one actor visibly distressed, you, as a viewer, have a physical response to the situation, the same way you do in a real-life experience.”

The multi-scene stories give students a better sense of the flow that characterizes real negotiations. Hal explained:

“Modeling the complex behaviors included in effective negotiation — in this case, on the big screen — seems to help the procedural learning of training participants and to spark additional teaching opportunities.”

Hal’s video-based negotiation scenarios provoke new opportunities to think about negotiation moves more clearly, to sharpen strategic judgments, manage feelings before, during, and after a negotiation, and allow implicit ideas, assumptions, and theories to surface.

Insights from a Faculty Dinner Seminar

Hal presented two videos during a recent Faculty Dinner Seminar. The first clip portrayed a multi-scene negotiation story that follows the progress of a negotiator as his agency attempts to “close a deal” and sign an old client to a new contract. The client has hired a hardball procurement consultant who presents a significant challenge as a negotiating partner. What ensues is a detailed unfolding of events that is both realistic and engaging, depicting the tasks and skills necessary for a mutual gains negotiator to succeed.

The second negotiation scenario demonstrated a paired vignette of two different negotiation approaches to handling a very aggressive counterpart. The first involved a negotiator struggling to communicate, but in the end, failing to make an effective connection. The second portrayed a negotiator using the mutual gains approach with the same adversary and showing progress toward resolution.

The video clips initiated a very stimulating conversation, exploring different ways of using videos as a teaching tool, the best ways of formatting teaching videos, and the increasing interest in using teaching videos in all kinds of classrooms.

There was a debate on how best to sequence video-based negotiation scenarios in the classroom. Hal explained that videos become even more effective when they are paired with a role-play simulation and that there are numerous benefits to showing the video first, as opposed to starting with a role-play simulation. If used first, the video illustrates how to take certain actions – what to do, what not to do – that students can emulate in the role-play. If the teacher starts with the simulation, the video can open up a conversation and draw out the students’ working theories of negotiation as they compare their actions to those on screen. There was general agreement that regardless of the order, videos are an effective educational tool.

Despite the near-universal support for video as an education tool, there is no agreement on how to best use, or format, video-based negotiation scenarios. One participant viewed video as a crucial tool for portraying negotiation styles, while another highlighted its potential as an evaluation tool – allowing students to confront their own performances.

There was a lively discussion about whether scripted or unscripted videos are more effective. A script makes production easier and gives the educational producer more control over content and messaging. But, this requires good actors and polished writing, which are often more expensive. Moreover, scripted videos sometimes feel unrealistic or stilted. A non-scripted video is more natural, but the producer needs to use gifted negotiators or mediators as the actors.

In general, there was unanimity on the need for higher-quality video-based negotiation scenarios.

The Next Steps

The talk concluded with a look toward the future of videos in negotiation pedagogy. Lawrence Susskind, PON’s Vice-Chair of Education, hypothesized that the format of negotiation teaching videos will be almost as important as the content. He explained that educational videos will continue to be made available for viewing online in various interactive formats, possibly with multiple sets of comments and instructions embedded in the Web platform. This will create new opportunities to engage a wider circle of learners and teachers.

The Teaching Negotiation Resource Center’s Video Library

Have you been energized by the unique “aha” moment students experience when a video is used in their class? Us too! We’ve seen increasing demand for our videos as they provide educators with a stimulating launching pad for group discussion.

Whether videos are a frequent component in your curriculum, or even if you’ve never used clips in an educational setting before, we’ve got some exciting news:

The Teaching Negotiation Resource Center is creating an online digital library of video-based negotiation scenarios that can be purchased and downloaded from our site. No need for extra shipping costs and no more waiting.

Take a look at our current list of downloadable videos, and watch for more as we continue to expand our library.

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

TNRC negotiation 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 video-based negotiation scenarios, 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.

What do you think of using videos to study negotiation scenarios? Leave us a comment.

Check out all that the TNRC has in store >>

Article originally published in 2010.

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3 Responses to “Teaching with Video-Based Negotiation Scenarios”

  • I am currently teaching negotiations this semester and I am wondering where I could have access to the negotiation videos (if there are any). Also, are the videos closed captioned?

    • Hello
      I have sent your request to the teaching Negotiation Resource center and they will get back to you

  • Alyson C.

    Great article! With increasing innovations in technology, I would also recommend engaging students more actively via technology. One way, is simply having students create video content, not just observe it. Videotaping student simulations is another tool many faculty and trainers have relied on to help students gain great insights into their personal skills and approaches. Typically we set up video cameras off to the side and capture the negotiation from the third person perspective as an observer. Now with wearable cameras, faculty can have students videotape footage of their negotiations from the first person perspective, capturing the experience of what it looks like to actually sit across the table and negotiate with them instead of observing them from the third person perspective.


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