Negotiation Role Play

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To practice negotiation with a realistic scenario.


1 hour or more depending on the debriefing.


  • Handouts with the roles for Caritas representative and leader of Family Association;
  • Flip chart papers;
  • Markers.


I) Introduce the activity. Tell participants that you are inviting them to role-play in pairs a simulation of negotiation taking place between a Caritas representative and the leader of a grassroots local association.

II) Invite each participant to choose a partner and form pairs.

III) Distribute the handouts for the role of Caritas representative and leader of Family Association. Allow enough time for reading and familiarising with the role.

IV) Start the role-play. Allow plenty of time for the process. If necessary you can stop the role-play after 20-30 minutes.

V) Invite participants to return to their seats. Debrief.


The questions that follow are not normative. You can use these and/or other questions as the situation and your judgement may require.

How do you feel?

  • How do you feel about this activity?
  • How do you feel about the other party?
  • How do you feel about the outcome of the negotiation?
  • How do you feel about your relationship with the other party?
  • How do you feel about the outcomes of other pairs?

What happened?

  • What happened at the beginning of the negotiation?
  • How did the negotiation evolve? What interesting things happened?
  • How does your culture play in the way you negotiate?
  • What are the different cultural approaches to negotiation?
  • How does the constituency you represent influence the way you negotiate? How does it influence the outcome?
  • How could you “separate the people from the problem”?
  • On what did you focus most during the negotiation?

What have you learned?

How does this relate to reality?


You can adapt the role-play scenario to fit the specific context and needs of your workshop.

Role for the leader of a Family Association

You are Arif/Majda Karabegovic. You represent the Family Association of Missing Persons “A”. You have been working in your association since the beginning - in fact you are one of the founders of the Association. No doubt that since you lost part of you family the organisation is a second family for you. Being active within the association helped you passing through difficult times; you are not sure you could make it until today if it was not for the other members’ support.

You believe that your association has played a crucial role in supporting relatives of missing persons up to date.

You are not up for a career and you don’t get a salary for what you do. Your association is now engaged in supporting the process of exhumation and identification of bodies. You have suspended all other activities because support in exhumation and identification takes all the Association’s capacity. Families need support and that’s what you association does actually: you support them to go through this traumatic experience.

After the war countless humanitarian/development organisations came to your office and made promises, they took your time almost for nothing. The majority of them never showed up for the second time. Those who did generally offered things such as “psychosocial activities”, “training”, “activity for youth and so on. Words, words, words…

You know very well that this is not what members of your association need. They need a job, they need a house, they need their relatives to return back home. You remember that once you believed in one of these humanitarian organisations, you accepted to take part in one of their trainings and it was three days of talking nonsense.

You remember old Emira crying because of the memories that one of the activities stimulated. All these humanitarian organisations want just to use their donors’ money in order to get more. They do not understand your need and don’t care about the Family Associations. Their staff is well paid, while you are working as a volunteer.

Now it seems that also Caritas is engaging with the Family Associations. According to some rumours among other Family Associations, Caritas is giving money only to Croat/Catholic Family Associations.

Today you have a meeting with one of these “Humanitarian workers”. This is the fifth time that you meet him/her. The previous meetings were useless and unpleasant. He/she was talking nonsense for over two hours and not listening to the real needs that you were presenting to him/her.

You think that such people have nothing to do with the reality of the family associations. You think that he/she is a catholic that got his/her job because of his/her religion. Your interest is to get some money for the association.

You presented a very good project just a month ago and you really hope he/she is coming with a good answer.

Role for the Caritas representative.

You are yourself. You represent your Caritas in the project Empowerment of Family Associations. You have been working for Caritas for 7 years now, you see Caritas and its local staff as a kind of second family. They helped you a lot during and after the war. You strongly believe in this new project and see it as an opportunity for yourself to make steps in your career.

The project is working in two main directions: 1) financing micro-projects of Family Associations; 2) training to increase participation of members in life and governance of the associations. When the work started you were enthusiastic, especially about the training part. You are developing yourself as a trainer, you believe in it and think you have a lot to give. Unfortunately much of that enthusiasm is gone after you saw the reactions of Family Associations: they do not seem interested in training; they rather seem just interested in getting funding. You worked a lot on designing a training program tailored to the needs of the Family Associations, but they seem not to understand. Up to date, out of 11 training sessions that were planned, you have been able to conduct only 3. This is simply because Family Associations did not dare to come or found excuses in order to do so. Nonetheless, all ask for money.

You are starting to question whether these leaders have any interest at all in representing their members. The training program is aimed at increasing participation of members and enabling leader and activists to manage build on that.

Today you have a meeting with Majda/Arif Karabegovic, leader of the FA “A”. You are tired of these meetings. It is the fifth time that you are meeting him/her and the previous meetings proved useless and unpleasant. He/she has been asking for funding since the first five minutes. You think that this man/woman is not effectively representing his/her constituencies. He/she was a former leader of the Communist Party and you think that he/she is leader of the FA just because of his/her connections.

The point is that while continuing asking for money (and presenting a ridiculous project proposal) he/she shows no interest in the training program you are proposing, thus denying a chance for personal and professional development to members of the association.

A friend of yours working in International Commission on Missing Persons told you that he/she is blackmailing you with other FAs; it seems that he/she diffused rumours about you stealing money and your organisation giving money only to Catholics. You need to find a way to know if this is true, without damaging the relationship.

You are now going to meet him/her with the specific goal of involving the association “A” in a series of 5 subsequent training for over 3 months.

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