Negotiation and persuasion

General Description of the Module:

In this module, you will participate in a simulation activity where you will test and improve your negotiation, communication and persuasion skills.

Activity: Orange negotiation

Specific Objectives:

  • To improve negotiation skills.
  • To improve public communication skills.
  • To improve cooperation and conflict solving skills.

Duration: 40 minutes

Resources: Orange Negotiation Role Cards

Description of the activity:

Before starting the activity, have a short discussion about negotiation and persuasion and try to think of examples from your lives when you have needed to negotiate or persuade someone to do something. Share these examples with each other. Do you think these are important skills for you to have? Why?

Divide into pairs. Hand out printed Orange Negotiation Role Cards, one per pair (there should be an equal number of pairs that have Roland and Jones roles).

The facilitator of the session should explain the following to the group, "I am the owner of the last remaining UGA variety of oranges in the world. After you read about your roles, spend about 10 minutes meeting with the other firm's representative and decide on a course of action. I am strictly interested in making a profit and will sell my oranges to the highest bidder. Since my country is alien to yours, there is no way either government will assist you in obtaining the oranges from me. Each pair of negotiators can assume that there are no others interested in the oranges. When you have reached a decision, pick a spokesperson who will tell me:

  1. What you plan to do?
  2. If you want to buy the oranges, what price will you offer?
  3. To whom and how will the oranges be delivered?".

Stop the exercise after about half the groups have reached a solution. In the discussion, pay particular attention to those groups who have not reached agreement. Ask each pair to describe their experience and the solution to their negotiation.

Suggested questions for discussion:

Did you trust each other (the opposing roles)?
What tactics did you chose for the negotiation and why?
What was easy/difficult?
How often do you experience situations where you have to negotiate in your lives?
What skills do you think are needed for a successful negotiation to take place?

After the activity:

After completing the activity, take some time to reflect on your experience. Think about or write down answers to these reflection points:

  • Did I learn something new? If yes, what?
  • What skills did I improve?
  • How could I apply those skills or knowledge in my life? (Think of a few examples)

Suggestion and tips for facilitation:

You can also do this activity with a peer if you are not working in a group. Read your roles and try to negotiate a common decision. After you reach a decision, come out of your roles, and discuss the activity.

You can also expand the activity by reviewing and discussing these tips for a successful negotiation:

  • You should make your arguments first. Always consider going first during a negotiation. Making the first offer will also show the other party that you are a confident individual since it's very rare that someone who lacks confidence and power ever makes the first offer.
  • Appear confident. Looking confident is one of the most important parts of being persuasive. If you're not sure, then why should they trust you? Stand up straight, look people in the eye, smile, and keep your voice even and enthusiastic.
  • Know what you're talking about. Do research online or in the library. Know as much as possible about what you're trying to talk them into. You're not going to be very convincing if you tell them something that they know isn't true.
  • Prepare for their arguments against you.They'll probably have some arguments against what you're trying to get them to do. Know some of the most common arguments and be ready with a good reason to win them over.
  • Stay calm.If you start shouting or get all whiny, no one is going to listen to you anymore. It becomes like tuning out a small child. Keep calm and friendly in your demeanour and you'll be fine.
  • Stay calm.If you start shouting or get all whiny, no one is going to listen to you anymore. It becomes like tuning out a small child. Keep calm and friendly in your demeanour and you'll be fine.
  • Watch for their reactions. When you tell your audience anything, watch for their reactions. Watch their face, their body language, and even things as subtle as when they breathe. All of these things can tell you what someone is thinking.
  • Cultivate your language. When you persuade someone, use language very carefully. Use words like "we", "together", and "us" instead of words like "you" and "I" or "me". This forces your audience to view you as a single unit with similar interests, rather than two separate people.
  • Help the other party see the reward. Help them see the reward in doing whatever you want them to do. Show them all of the upsides until what you're arguing for really does sound like the best decision. Sometimes, you may have to get a little creative and find something that might not be that obvious. Another technique is to ask them what rewards they would want or that they think they'll get and use these to negotiate accordingly.

Tip: If you wish, you could make this activity easier, remove some of the detail from the role cards.

This module is closely related to the Solving disagreements and Motivating others modules.

Orange Negotiation Role Cards

  1. Role for Roland-- You are Dr. Roland. You work as a research biologist for a pharmaceutical firm. The firm is works with the government to do research on methods to combat enemy uses of biological weapons. Recently several World War II experimental nerve gas bombs were moved and in the process of transporting them, two of the bombs developed a leak. The leak is presently controlled but government scientists believe that the gas will permeate the bomb chambers within two weeks. They know of no method of preventing the gas from getting into the atmosphere and spreading to other countries. If this occurs, it is likely that several thousands of people will incur serious brain damage or die. You have developed a synthetic vapor that will neutralize the nerve gas if it is injected into the bomb chamber before the gas leaks out. The vapor is made with a chemical taken from the rind of the UGA orange, a very rare fruit. Unfortunately, only 4000 of these oranges were produced this season.

    You have been informed that Mr. R. Cardoza, a fruit exporter in South America, is in possession of 3000 UGA oranges. The chemicals from the rinds of this number of oranges would be sufficient to neutralize the gas if the serum is developed and injected efficiently. In addition, you have been informed that Dr. J. Jones is also urgently seeking purchase of UGA oranges and he is aware of Mr. Cardoza's possession of the 3000 available. Dr. Jones works for a company with which your firm is highly competitive. The government has asked your firm for assistance to purchase the 3000 UGA oranges. You have been told he will sell them to the highest bidder. You can bid as high as 250,000 EUR to obtain the rind of the oranges. Before approaching Mr. Cardoza, you have decided to talk to Dr. Jones to influence him so that he will not prevent you from purchasing the oranges.


  2. Role for Jones -- You are Dr. John. Jones, a biological research scientist employed by a pharmaceutical firm. You have recently developed a synthetic chemical useful for curing and preventing Rudosen. Rudosen is a disease contracted by pregnant women. If not caught in the first four weeks of pregnancy, the disease causes serious brain, eye, and ear damage to the unborn child.

    Recently, there has been an outbreak of Rudosen in your country and several thousand women have contracted the disease. You have found that your recently developed synthetic serum cures Rudosen in its early stages. Unfortunately, the serum is made from the juice of the UGA orange which is a very rare fruit. Only a small quantity (approximately 4000) of these oranges was produced last season. No additional UGA oranges will be available until next season, which will be too late to cure the present Rudosen victims. Unfortunately, the present outbreak was unexpected and your firm had not planned on having the compound serum available for six months.

    You have recently been informed that Mr. R. Cardoza, a South American fruit exporter, is in possession of 3000 UGA oranges in good condition. If you could obtain the juice of all 3000 oranges, you would be able to both cure the present victims and provide sufficient vaccination for the remaining pregnant women in the country. You have recently been informed that Dr. P. Roland is also urgently seeking UGA oranges and is also aware of Mr. Cardoza's possession of the 3000 oranges available. Dr. Roland is employed by a competitor. You've been authorized by your firm to approach Mr. Cardoza to purchase the 3000 UGA oranges. You have been told he will sell them to the highest bidder. Your firm has authorized you to bid as high as 250,000 EUR to obtain the juice of the 3000 available oranges. Before approaching Mr. Cardoza, you have decided to talk with Dr. Roland to influence him so that he will not prevent you from purchasing the oranges.