Negotiations Training Games and Activities

Jeff Cochran


Employers are always looking for new negotiations training  activities that engage people and produce effective results. Negotiators need to learn communication skills, appropriate aggression and ambition, how to think from a different perspective, how to deal with difficult people, and more. Here are some innovative games and activities worth trying for your negotiations training:


  1. Role-Playing 

Defining a scenario, whether realistic or off-the wall fiction, can boost confidence, develop listening skills, and train creative problem-solving techniques. Role-playing is where one person describes a situation and other people respond to it. Also called cooperative-storytelling, the narrator defines a problem or enacts an imaginary stranger and the role-players then need to work together to handle the situation. This negotiation training provides a controlled environment where people may test and practice their negotiation skills without fear of bad consequences. 

  1. Body Language Activities 

Create a game, like charades, where one “speaker” has to communicate a message without speaking. As others guess the message, the  “speaker” refines body language until the message is communicated. This entertaining exercise helps people test what gesticulations work and which do not. 

More tied to real-life scenarios, watch movie scenes or public debates in which negotiations are taking place. Have your group observe non-verbal cues, including vocal fluctuations. Write these down then have each participant share their observations with the group afterwards. 

A third activity is to play a variation of Simon says or follow the leader. Designate one participant “negotiator” and one “client.” Make up a creative scenario where the negotiator and client represent different companies in a negotiation, each with different goals and assets to draw from. Divide all other participants in the room into two groups with each group mimicking the non-verbal cues of the negotiator or client. As the activity progresses, everyone will become self-conscious about the body language being used. Let each person have a turn in the negotiation. Afterwards, discuss observations on the effectiveness of different types of body language. 

  1. Arm Wrestle 

Set up the following game to help people become aware of their assumptions and disposition when entering a negotiation situation. Participants will become aware of whether they aim for “beating” the other person or try to find a conclusion with mutual benefits.

Direct two participants to a table with hands clasped and elbows in an arm wrestling position. Tell them they have two main rules. First, a participant gains one point if the back of their partner’s hand touches the table. Second, the goal is to get as many points as possible without concern for anyone else. Explain that each point will earn a candy after ten seconds of wrestling. Debrief by asking people why they got their score and how they could approach the “negotiation” differently. Help them become aware of and challenge their initial assumptions.

These are just a few of the creative ways to increase people’s self-awareness of their negotiations assumptions and communication skills. Think outside the box and come up with similar negotiations training exercises.

How To Build Effective Management Habits

Jeff Cochran


Managing employees involves a delicate balance of productivity, focus, and good interpersonal skills. Sometimes managers can feel like they are expected to be good at everything. The effort gets easier through the cultivation of habits and tools for performance improvement. Good practices start with a lot of time and energy and then become second nature. Forming good management habits also means getting rid of bad habits. As we look at good and bad habits, think about how you can implement these tips into your workplace.

Good Management Habits

Starting a habit takes determination and practice. Determination is preserved through reminding yourself repeatedly of the good reasons you are forming a habit and the consequences of not following through with the new practice. Begin with some of these good habits.

  1. Be open to creativity. The best leaders are quick to spot and implement new solutions, wherever they come from. Most workers and fellow managers just want to stick to their job, but keep an eye open for creative employees who think of new solutions to old problems. Be willing to change “the way we do things around here.”
  2. Communicate well and often. Teams work together through communication. When you are frustrated about a lack of compliance, consider whether you clearly and frequently communicated your expectations.
  3. Listen. Build a habit of listening first. In every conversation you have with an employee, challenge yourself to listen more than you talk. They don’t need to know everything you have to say, but they do need to know you care and are addressing, or at least empathizing, with their concerns.

Bad Management Habits

  1. Being a know-it-all. Leading does not mean being the best at everything. It means knowing where to turn for the best solution to any problem. You do not have all the answers, and it is a common bad habit of managers to think that rank equals knowledge of the truth. Sometimes the one who actually works the task 40 hours a week knows better.
  2. Holding paperwork above people work. People are always more important than paper. Leaders who know this have the happy side effect of increased productivity. Spending more time with spreadsheets than people and giving a half-baked effort at employee relationships is a good way to keep employees bitter and unsatisfied.
  3. Micromanaging employees. If someone can do a task 60% as well as you can, delegate responsibility to them and forget about it. Sure, you might want it done exactly your way, but that’s an unreasonable and oppressive expectation to place on employees. Don’t micromanage. Employees tend to fill the shoes they’re put in. Always being suspicious of their activity will harm productivity. Trusting them more than they deserve garners more responsibility from workers.

Starting these habits will launch you on a road to increased productivity, a better work environment, and less work-related stress.

Stepping out of the Midweek Slump

Jeff Cochran


Even the most enthusiastic employees can hit a slump around Wednesday or Thursday, so it’s crucial to know strategies that will help them overcome it.

Sleep Well & Wake Up Early

Getting enough rest Tuesday night will keep you alert on Wednesday. Sleeping well and maintaining a good diet will go a long way in preventing mid-week slumps. Sleep deprivation causes your body to work less efficiently, using more energy.

While you are sleeping, your mind organizes your thoughts for better memory and processing during the day. Getting enough rest will help your brain function better and will improve your creativity and alertness.

Wake up on Wednesday with enough time to have breakfast and do something active. Going for a short walk or even stretching will ensure that you don’t pull into work half-asleep. Starting off on the right foot sets the mood for the rest of your day.

Take a Break

Take a mid-day break. Round everyone up for a short coffee break to give them an opportunity to return to work with energy. The break will wake people up and keep them alert.

Schedule a mid-week meeting to get some face-to-face time with employees and allow everyone to speak. Empathize and foster team spirit to end on a positive note and send employees out refreshed.

Be Positive When You Don’t Feel Like It 

Attitude is contagious. When you catch yourself being pessimistic, say the opposite. Negativity causes anxiety and stress, which will affect health and productivity, and is twice as contagious as positivity. Watch what you say around others as complaining is a prime motivation killer. Keep your complaints to yourself and encourage others when they start complaining.

Take a moment to practice some deep breathing techniques to release stress and the tension in your muscles. Combine this with a light stretch and you have a recipe for increased alertness.

Write down your thoughts. The Journal of Research in Personality has shown that writing out your thoughts can enhance positive moods and relieve stress. Negative attitudes are vicious cycles that can be helped with a private outlet.

Redefine Wednesday 

Turn your half empty glass into a half full one by reminding yourself and others that you’re on the downhill slope to the weekend. Personally motivate yourself by doing something fun Wednesday night, like going on a date, watching movies, or having family fun night. Start a mid-week tradition worth looking forward to. 

Create an Energy Diet and Exercise 

Create a diet that sustains your energy and grab some healthy snacks. Some foods to include are eggs, Greek yogurt, edamame, whole grain cereal, trail mix, water, guarana, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, goji berries, nuts, fish, beans, dark leafy vegetables, and dark chocolate.

Exercise also helps boost energy levels. Studies have shown that going for a short mid-day walk can boost your energy more than a nap. Get your blood pumping to wake yourself up and increase your alertness for the rest of the day. Exercising regularly provides endorphins to fight stress and naturally increases your overall energy levels.

Challenge Yourself 

Set up a Wednesday productivity challenge and reward yourself if you meet it. Creating a challenge turns a boring day into a game. Set hourly challenges to keep you alert throughout the day. Even if management does not reward you, reward yourself. Challenging yourself can go a long way in creating motivation at any time during the week. 

Challenge others as well. Creating some friendly competition or a collective goal can boost morale in the whole office. Getting everyone on board and providing a larger reward incentive can turn Wednesday into the most exciting day of the week.

When Workplace Bullies Invade Your Business -Part 2

Jeff Cochran


We recently talked about how you can recognize bullying in the workplace, but how should you handle it?

Equipping Yourself 

These tips will help you on the road to recovering from being bullied: 

  • Take a Day Off. Use this day to consult a mental health professional. Get emotionally stable to make reasonable decisions, and come up with a plan for confronting the bully or your employer. Check in with your physical health as well, because stress has many adverse effects on the body. 
  • Research Law and Policies. There may be legal recourse you can take against bullies. Even if you do not take this option, you can research state and federal law to provide this information to your employer. If the problem is significant, talk to an attorney and write a demand letter. The handbook for your company may already have policies in place that can protect you. Use these to recruit a supervisor as your advocate. 
  • Start Job Searching. Searching does not mean giving up. It means having a plan B in case the bullying doesn’t stop. 
  • Expose the Bully. Talk to your management about the problem. If the management is the problem, talk to someone higher in the hierarchy. If your business is corporate, you may have to call someone off location. 
  • Keep on Task and be Objective. When presenting your case to bullies or managers, be as objective as possible. Don’t drift into side issues or unrelated stories. Prepare your case ahead of time with numbered points and a conclusion. 
  • Get Advice. Whether from friends, administrators or legal professionals, get advice. You do not need to fight this battle alone.

Being bullied in the workplace is stressful, but attempting to ignore the problem will not make it go away. Follow these tips to help you have the best possible working environment.