Learn How to Role Play for Negotiation Skills to Be Effective

Learn How to Role Play for Negotiation Skills to Be Effective
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Training programs that enable business professionals to develop their negotiation skills typically enable participants to recognize the key concepts associated with negotiation, conduct an effective negotiation session and maintain good working relationships to build partnerships for long-term success. Role playing exercises allow participants the chance to practice what they’ve learned and see how to avoid common barriers to reaching productive agreements. For example, they see how distributive negotiation typically results in one side winning and the other one losing and in integrative negotiation, both sides win.

Learning Objectives

Using role playing for negotiation skills prepares participants to develop effective negotiation strategies in any situation, including how to negotiate over the phone, through email and in face-to-face meetings. Participants develop the skills and knowledge to use persuasive language, get essential information from the other party, neutralize manipulative tactics, minimize conflicts and deadlocks and focus on planning how to meet business objectives.

Recruiting Negotiation Role Play Example

The facilitator divides a large group into pairs to conduct a role play involving a job interview. One person plays the role of a manager recruiting a new employee. The other person plays a candidate who has all the required skills but demands more vacation, stock options and salary. The facilitator gives the participants 15 minutes for the role-play exercise in which the candidate asks for a bonus. The manager needs to determine the best alternative to a negotiated agreement, also known as a BATNA. The participant playing this role also needs to set limits and analyze the result of the candidate turning the job down. The manager should establish a reservation price, the least favorable option. After the role-play exercise completes, the participants discuss the results and switch roles to repeat the activity. The facilitator helps out by answering questions about the activity.

Investment Negotiation Role Play Example

In this role-playing game, the facilitator distributes five blank envelopes to selected participants. These people function as investors. The other participants play the role of advisors. The facilitator starts by stating the rules of the game. The investors cannot speak to each other. The facilitator instructs the investors to place some of their own money (or none) in the envelope, promising to give each investor $20 if the total from all the envelopes is at least $100.

The facilitator gives the participants ten minutes to decide how much to put in the envelope, based on input from the advisors and asks for a prediction of how much money will be collected. At the end of the activity, one person gathers the envelopes and tallies the amount. If the total is $100 or more, the facilitator gives $20 to each investor, regardless of how much they put in. If not, the facilitator keeps all the money.

The facilitator then discusses the role play with the participants to learn how much they learned about giving advice, receiving input, computing a fair amount and comparing the prediction with the actual result. Participants start to recognize that negotiation often involves confusion, frustration, irritation and disappointment. Joy can result too. This exercise allow participants to see that minimizing communication, keeping secrets and working under tight deadlines affect people’s ability to negotiate effectively.


By using role playing for negotiation skills, it helps prepare participants to become better negotiators by allowing them to become familiar with communication styles, build trust, monitor agreements and know when to stop if an agreement can’t be reached in the time allowed. Participants learn how to identify the best alternative, the minimum that can be accepted, how flexible the other party can be and what options are possible to achieve the objective.


“Delegation of Authority Policy.” KnowledgeLeader - A Resource for Internal Audit and Risk Management Professionals. https://www.knowledgeleader.com/KnowledgeLeader/Content.nsf/Web+Content/PoliciesProceduresDelegationofAuthority (accessed April 11, 2011).

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Everaldo Coelho