Purpose

Like mock mediations, mock negotiations give students the opportunity to learn the stages of a negotiation and to practice negotiation skills, such as advocacy, compromise, and finding areas of agreement (if possible). Typical negotiations may include a business contract or a conflict between two people or groups that both parties want to resolve.

Procedures

  1. (Optional) Invite members of your community, such as lawyers or professionals involved in conflict resolution to help facilitate this activity.
  2. Before class begins, write a short contract or a description of a conflict between two people or groups. It should be shortno more than ½ of a page. Make enough copies of the handout for each student. If students are new to negotiation, you should also create a handout of the steps to a negotiation.
  3. Introduce the activity by describing the situation/contract to be negotiated.
  4. Review the fact pattern with all students. Check for understanding, possibly by going around the room and having each student list one fact from the pattern.
  5. Review negotiation strategies. You might do this by demonstrating or role playing a simple negotiation.
  6. Divide students into two or more groups to prepare for each side of the negotiation. With smaller classes, you can split into two groups (one for each side). With larger classes, you will need to split into at least four groups (half of the groups representing each side). These prep groups should not have more than six students. Assign each group to represent one side of the negotiation.
  7. Ask the prep groups to discuss their side’s objectives and review strategies for reaching agreement on deal points. (You may want to provide students with blank paper to take notes on or you might provide students with a worksheet listing the “deal points” with space to write what they want for each point.) Each group should discuss the ideal result, fallback result, and unacceptable result for each deal point. Allow at least 15 minutes for this stage.
  8. Create negotiating groups of four—two students representing each side—and set each negotiating group at a table or set of chairs.
  9. Tell the groups to begin negotiating. Circulate to keep the groups on track, answer questions, and offer suggestions. Allow 20–30 minutes for negotiations. Ask students to record the decisions reached on each deal point.
  10. Stop the negotiations and shift to a whole-class discussion. Ask students:
    • What agreement did your group reach, if any? (As each group reports, ask them to compare their agreements with those of other groups)  
    • What was the most challenging part of this exercise? The easiest?
    • Which part did you like best?
    • What did you learn about negotiations?
  11. (Optional) If a community resource person is assisting with this activity, ask her or him to compare the process the students used to the process in her or his work environment.