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Seb Anthony

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Negotiating Skills Ice-breakers


Would welcome any suggestions for a good ice-breaker that I can use for an influencing and negotiating skills programme that would set the scene for the rest of the course.
Vivienne Holmes

2 Responses

  1. Separate the Negotiators from the Competitors
    I love this exercise, it’s so simple – yet such an eye opener. A kind of physical variation on the “Prisoner’s Dilemma”

    1. Get everyone in pairs and seated so they can arm wrestle.

    2. Announce a competition to see who can push their partner’s arm over the most times in two or three minutes. Some sort of prize should be offered which can easily be divided in two.

    3. The point is that the “negotiators” will agree to let one partner get a maximum score and then divide the prize between them.
    All the “competitors” will be struggling to see who can beat their partner – thus ensuring that neither of them win.

    4. If no-one spots the “negotiator” option, offer to beat the best score so far in just 30 seconds, with you partnering whoever the current winning team care to choose (except themselves). And agree with your “partner” that if you (as a couple) win, you’ll share the prize equally.
    Then just let your partner keep winning.

  2. A quick and fun exercise
    One short exercise I have used is a variation on the paper clip exercise.
    Give everyone a paperclip and ask them to spend 2 minutes individually thinking of as many creative, wacky, interesting uses for the paperclip.
    After 2 minutes, split them into 2 groups. They have 5 minutes to share their findings in their groups and come up with 1 choice per group.
    After 5 minutes, the two groups join together and have 5 minutes to decide on which of the two choices they can all agree on.
    You can vary the amount of time, although I find it works best if it’s done fairly quickly.
    When we run this exercise, there is usually lots of laughter and people are suprised at how passionate they can get about their choice for using a paperclip! We usually find that when you get to the final stage, the groups tend to become very positional and try to influence on the basis of “mine is best & your’s is rubbish”. This leads nicely into talking about more productive ways of influencing others, such as task oriented negotiation


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