Shall We Negotiate
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Activity – Shall We Negotiate?
To reflect on negotiation as a fundamental issue in everyday life
At least five participants
- Sets of coloured cards (5x5 cm., for example), with five different colours (orange, blue, yellow, red, brown) and five cards per participant (same colour)
- Flip charts (alternatively, you can use an overhead projector or PowerPoint slides with a projector to display the characteristics associated with colours)
At least 45 minutes
I) Distribute five cards of the same colour to each participant (different colours to different participants). When you hand out the cards, make sure the other participants don’t see which colour you’re giving.
II) Explain that each colour has particular characteristics associated with it, as follows:
Characteristics of each colour:
- Orange: Can take cards of all colours that other people have, except brown cards. With blue, yellow and red cards this card takes the other card without giving anything back. So when you show an orange card, you take the other person’s card, and that’s it! But with brown cards you just lose your card without receiving anything.
- Blue: Can be exchanged with yellow, red and brown cards.
- Yellow: Can be exchanged with red and brown cards.
- Red: Can be exchanged with brown and blue cards.
- Brown: Cannot be exchanged with other cards. However, with orange cards, a brown card takes the other person’s card without giving anything back.
- Each orange card is worth 1 point.
- Each blue, yellow and red card is worth 2 points.
- Each brown card is worth 3 points.
Write the above characteristics and scoring system on a flip chart (or overhead slide or PowerPoint slide) so that all participants can read them.
III) Give an additional instruction: participants should conduct their negotiations in secret so that the other participants cannot see the colour of their cards. A negotiation takes place when two players meet. One asks: “Shall we negotiate?” and the other agrees.
When two people meet to negotiate, they shouldn’t know what colour cards the other person has. If the person accepts, each one takes a card and shows it to the other person; if according to the characteristics of the respective colour they can exchange they do so. If not, they look for another person and carry on negotiating.
IV) To start the game, say: “Ready? Three, two, one… Negotiate!”.
V) After 3-5 minutes, stop the game and ask:
- How do you feel?
- How’s it going?
VI) Then restart the game for another 3-5 minutes.
VII) After the game, ask the participants to form a circle. Ask each person to show the cards he/she has and to announce his/her score. You can decide to congratulate the winner here.
VIII) Remaining in a circle, debrief.
Questions you might use include the following. You can omit, supplement and change them as you wish.
- How do you feel?
- How do you feel about this game?
- How do you feel about your initial situation – the colour you received at the beginning?
- How do you feel about the other participants?
- How do you feel about the way you acted?
- What happened at the beginning of the game?
- What happened in the second round of role-plays – after the first short debriefing?
- What strategy did you use to maximise your score?
- Do you think anyone was more powerful? Why?
Adapted from an activity suggested by Father Juan Ignacio Cardona and Monsignor Hector Fabio Henao from Caritas Colombia.