Years 9 to 12
Learn to negotiate
In this classroom activity, based on the $2 game, students workshop a range of negotiation strategies. These strategies can be used to resolve differences at home, at school and in workplaces.
Years 9 to 12
Negotiate a minority government
The 2-Dollar Game was created by Dr Mary Rowe for her class Negotiation and Conflict Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This version of the game has been modified for Australian high school students.
Before you begin
- Arrange your room so students can work in pairs and easily swap places to create new working pairs.
- Print copies of the Secret instructions for round 1 and Secret instructions for round 2 so that each student receives one instruction card per round.
- Have a stopwatch (or similar) ready to time each round of negotiation.
- Supply students with a copy of the Student worksheet.
- Get ready for 3 rounds of intense negotiation!
- Distribute the Student worksheet and explain to students they are going to complete 3 rounds of negotiation and there is room on their worksheet to make notes for each round.
- As a group, discuss what the word negotiate means. What qualities would a person need to be a good negotiator? What would a successful negotiation look like?
This round introduces students to the concept of positive and negative bargaining ranges. It also gives them an insight into their feelings about conflict and their personal negotiating style.
- Divide the class into pairs and explain they will have 3 minutes to negotiate with their partner over how they will split $2.
- Distribute the Secret instructions for round 1 (face down) and explain students will need to follow these instructions, even if it means acting differently than usual. Explain students can’t propose side deals or creative solutions, they just need to negotiate how much of the $2 they will get before the time is up.
- Give students one minute to read their instructions, make notes on their worksheet and think about how they will negotiate what they need.
- Start the timer and ask students to begin. Let students know when they have one minute remaining. At the end of 3 minutes, students record the amount they took from round 1 on their worksheet under ‘negotiated amount.’ If they didn’t reach an agreement, they record N/A (‘no agreement.’)
Round 1 discussion questions
- Poll students to see who enjoyed the game and who didn’t. You could do this with a simple show of hands. Ask some students to share their reasons.
- Poll students again to see which pairs reached an agreement and which didn’t. Ask some pairs to explain why they think this happened.
- Ask pairs to share with each other their secret instructions and worksheet for round 1. If both amounts add up to less than $2, the pair had a positive bargaining range. If they add up to more than $2, the pair had a negative bargaining range. Discuss how each pair’s bargaining range impacted on their negotiation.
This round introduces students to a range of factors that can impact a negotiation, including attitudes and relationships. It will give them an insight into effective and ineffective negotiation styles.
- Ask students to form new pairs and explain once again they will have 3 minutes to negotiate how $2 will be divided.
- Distribute the Secret instructions for round 2 (face down) and remind students they will need to stay in the role they have been given, even if it is unlike the way they usually act.
- Give students one minute to read their instructions, make notes on their worksheet and think about how they will negotiate.
- Start the timer and ask students to begin. Let students know when they have one minute remaining. At the end of 3 minutes, students record the amount they took from round 2 on their worksheet under ‘negotiated amount.’ If they didn’t reach an agreement, they record X (no agreement).
Round 2 discussion questions
- Pairs discuss how they found each other’s negotiating styles. Would you want to negotiate with them again? Why or why not?
- Ask the pairs to share their secret instructions. If you had known your partner’s secret instructions, how would you have approached the negotiation differently?
- Effective negotiators know how to build a positive relationship with their negotiating partner. How will you build a positive relationship in the next round of bargaining?
In this round there are no secret instructions. Instead, students have to decide the best way to approach the negotiation.
- Students return to their round 1 partner.
- Explain there are no secret instructions for this round but students should keep in mind their partner is someone they will have to negotiate with often in the future. In the long term it will be beneficial to have a positive relationship with them.
- Give students a moment to plan for their third and final negotiation. Once again, remember to time the negotiation and to prompt students to record their negotiated amount after their 3 minutes is up.
Round 3 discussion questions
- How did your experience in rounds 1 and 2 influence how you negotiated this round?
- How did knowing you will have to work with this person in the future affect your negotiation?
- In the final negotiation how did you attempt to achieve the outcome you wanted and build a positive relationship?
- Negotiations can be collaborative rather than competitive. When a negotiation is collaborative, the parties work together to arrive at a ‘win-win’ situation. Can you think of a time when a ‘win-win’ situation has been negotiated? What skills or strategies can you use during a collaborative negotiation?
- Many players begin the $2 game believing taking $1 each would be the fairest solution. In any of your negotiations did you find it would be fairer for one player to receive more than another? How can you judge if an outcome is ‘fair’?