Business and Commercial Role-Play:

Death in the Family


Bruce Patton

Two-party, short awareness-building negotiation between a professor and a student over an assignment submitted late due to a death in the student's family


Please note: you must order a copy (a.k.a. license/usage fee) for every person participating in the simulation in your course. This simulation has multiple roles, so you will be unable to complete your purchase without meeting the minimum quantity requirement of copies per role.

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PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center

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Soft copy vs. hard copy

You may order this role simulation in either soft copy (electronic) or hard copy (paper) format. If you select the soft copy option, you will receive an e-mail with a URL (website address) from which you may download an electronic file in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. You will have one week to download your materials from when you receive the email. You are then only authorized to use, print, or share the materials as many times as the number of copies you purchase. The TNRC charges for use of this simulation on a per-participant basis. Therefore, you must purchase a separate copy of this simulation for each person who will be participating, regardless of the number of roles in the simulation. You will only receive a link to one electronic file, which includes all general instructions, confidential instructions, and any teaching notes for the simulation. You should separate out the instructions before distributing to participants.

If you select the hard copy option, you will receive paper copies of this role simulation via the shipping method you select.

For additional information about the soft copy option, please visit our FAQ section, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at or 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.) or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.).

Please note: At the present time, Teaching Negotiation Resource Center soft copies are compatible with the following versions of the Adobe Acrobat Reader: English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Japanese, and Korean. If you have a different version of the Acrobat Reader, you may wish to download one of these at, or contact the PON Teaching Negotiation Resource Center at, 800-258-4406 (within the U.S.), or 301-528-2676 (outside the U.S.) for further assistance. This restriction does not apply to the freely available Teacher’s Package Review Copies.

Ordering a single copy for review

If you wish to review the materials for a particular role simulation to decide whether you’d like to use it, a PDF, or soft copy, version of the Teacher’s Package for the simulation is available as a free download from the description page of most role simulations and case studies. All Teacher’s Packages include copies of all participant materials. In addition, some Teacher’s Packages (but not all) include additional teaching materials such as teaching notes or overhead masters.

Ordering copies for multiple participants

To order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Quantity.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required.

If you are ordering hard copies, the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Quantity.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.

In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.

Bulk Pricing Discount

For bulk orders, we offer the following pricing discounts. Please note that these only apply to bulk orders of the same simulation.

  • Between 100-250 copies – 10% discount
  • Between 251-500 copies – 25% discount
  • More than 500 copies – 50% discount
Log In or Register to download the free Teacher's Package Sample.


Professor Famous teaches a course on the Theory and Practice of Problem-Solving. On the first day of class, an announcement is always made as to the "No-extension" policy. The Professor explains that the policy is intended to help students avoid the unpleasant consequences of procrastination that he suffered as a young lawyer. This year, when a student did not hand in an optional rough draft, due three weeks before the final, Famous attempted to reach the student by telephone to no avail. The student finally handed in the paper two weeks late, explaining plans to write the paper in the last week before the deadline went awry when the student's father died suddenly and unexpectedly.



This one-on-one negotiation takes 10-20 minutes. Either party can be given additional psychological role instructions. The negotiation can be repeated with the roles reversed. Videotaping is helpful for review.



  • This exercise pits Carol Gilligan's two "voices" in direct conflict. This situation is exactly the kind contemplated by the professor's policy, yet we have immense sympathy as well for the student's position, both substantively and emotionally. Is it possible to "separate the people from the problem" here, and if so how?
  • The professor must also be concerned about whether the intended lesson will be understood by the student, or whether the experience will merely be souring. In the latter case, the professor may want to consider possible impacts on the professor's reputation, either as a person or as a teacher. What weight should that be given?
  • What are the student's interests? Getting an extension? Learning the professor's lesson? Doing the "right" thing? What, in fact, is perceived as the "right" thing? Like many of these exercises, this is based on a real case, and there seem to be no easy answers.
  • The case is a good vehicle for revealing various psychological assumptions and nonverbal behaviors, thereby generally increasing psychological awareness.



Role Specific:

  • Confidential Instructions for the:
  • Professor
  • Student


Teacher's Package:

  • All of the above



Communication; Education, as a means; Emotions; Ethics; Fairness; Gilligan, two voices; Interpersonal skills; Issue control; Misrepresentation; Nonverbal communication; Power imbalance; Precedents; Pressure tactics; Psychological games; Separating the people from the problem

Death in the Family Attributes

Time required: 30 minutes - 1 hour
Number of participants: 2
Teams involved: No
Agent present: None
Neutral third party present: None
Scoreable: No
Teaching notes available: No