Chief Negotiator

This is a competitive negotiation skill practice activity that has several other learning outcomes like how teams in an organization are responsible for creating the climate and culture and how the actions of one team can affect other teams. It’s a fun competition against the teams where each team simply tries to win as much money as they can.



1-      With 6 groups of any sizes, each game should take 10 rounds. On each round, each group chooses either A or B (without knowing the choice of the other groups and writes their answer on a piece of paper). All pieces of paper from all groups are handed to the trainer.

2-      After each round, the trainer adds up the scores and determines what each group won depending on the groups combinations of choices in each round. For the 6 groups the seven possible combinations are as follows:



Amount won/lost

All choose A

Everyone loses $2

Five choose A; one chooses B

A’s win $2; B loses $10

Four choose A; two choose B

A’s win $4; B’s lose $8

Three choose A; Three choose B

A’s win $6; B’s lose $6

Two choose A; four choose B

A’s win $8; B’s lose $4

One chooses A; five choose B

A wins $10; B’s lose $2

All choose B

All win $2


3-      Instruct participants that on the 5th, 8th and 9th round you will allow short negotiation sessions between the groups where each group nominates a chief negotiator to lead the negotiation with other groups.

4-      To make the game more competitive, announce that you will be doubling or tripling the scores of specific rounds

5-      The activity can be customized to create combinations of payoffs for less than 6 groups


Discussion and debrief points

1-      This is a highly competitive game where some real emotions can rise especially when some teams do not cooperate (It rarely happens that all groups coordinate to all choose A) or when some teams protest because they were deceived by other teams. It’s important to record these reactions that will really enrich your debrief.

2-      Highlight behaviours that could have occurred or resulted from team negotiation sessions that would have inspired trust and co-operation.

3-      With the teams that suffer heavy losses point out if they always played the victim role during the negotiation sessions instead of taking charge and realizing that it was up to them to turn their fortune around.

4-      Point out how effective negotiations can be when each team acknowledges its own needs as well as the needs of other teams and be straightforward and explicitly say what they need and how different it may be from the needs of other teams in a non-blaming manner.