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Magazine Issue 85: Negotiation
July 2017

This month: Thoughts about Negotiation

Article: Negotiation
New Resources
Additional Resources

This Month's Article:

Negotiate That

Negotiate That An Article about negotiation with a couple of very shareable stories and a way to embed it into your teaching.

This is a Free Sample Resource

Categories: Article, Skills-Based Learning, Any Subject, All Ages

Tags: Negotiation Collaboration

Everything is negotiable. Whether or not the negotiation is easy is another thing.
Carrie Fisher

The Negotiation Game

Transcript of a maritime radio conversation between US and Canadian officers off the coast of Newfoundland, October 1995:

Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees North to avoid a collision.
Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees South to avoid collision.
Americans: This is the captain of a US navy ship; I say again divert your course.
Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.

Canadians: We are a lighthouse; your call.

It's wise to seek background information before negotiating; only then can you play the negotiation game well. In the (probably mythical) exchange above the players are locked in a zero-sum game: if one side wins the other must loose. There is no overall gain. Good negotiation aims to be positive-sum: all sides end up better off and the first step is believing that this is possible.

So how should important negotiations such as Brexit, peace talks, pay rises and playground disputes shape up?

Positive Sum Negotiation

Let's use another story to make a point:

Two brothers who hated each other, and who had not spoken for years, found themselves sat next to each other in the lawyer's office waiting to hear the contents of their father's will. It turned out that their father had not been half as wealthy as they had both thought. In fact his estate was no more than three gold coins. The lawyer was instructed to tell the brothers to share the coins out fairly between themselves without splitting any coin. The conversation went like this:

Older Brother: I should have all 3 coins because I am oldest and I was father's favourite son.
Younger brother: It is I who deserve all 3 coins because father loved me more than you.
Lawyer: Your father wanted you to do this fairly. Try again.

Older Brother: Well I'll have 2 coins and HE can have 1. I'm sure father would be happy with that.
Younger brother: It is I who deserve 2 coins and YOU who'll get 1.
Lawyer: Your father wanted you to do this fairly. Try one more time.

Older Brother: But this is NOT fair. I am off to find a lawyer of my own to prove that I am right.
Younger brother: Well if you're doing that then so am I - but I shall have a better lawyer.
Lawyer: Fine. I can recommend two of my colleagues. They charge a gold coin each. As do I.

Little Girl Listening in at the window: Hey, stupid, angry brothers, why not have a coin each and invest the other one in this law firm?

Transforming zero-sum (one person's gain equals another's loss) into positive-sum needs a change of mindset and outlook - especially if both sides are used to zero-sum negotiation. The law firm is clearly successful and an invested gold coin will eventually return a profit for both brothers.

Negotiation in the Classroom and Beyond

Your pupils will need to negotiate well. They'll need to do it in class (there's only one glue stick, but 3 of us) and they'll eventually need to do it socially (3 of us are going to the pub; who's staying dry and driving?). If we don't teach them how to seek win-win outcomes then they'll be more vulnerable to conflict or discrimination. Inevitably, the futures for which you are preparing them will demand these skills - whether it's a negotiation about pay and conditions or about who gets which team member, which office or which conference room.

Developing Negotiation

Here's a simple way to embed negotiation into your classroom without making extra work for anyone:

1. Define negotiation and it's purpose. Here's a suggestion:

Negotiation is a discussion between two or more people where the aim is for all sides to get an outcome that works for them. It's a preferable alternative to conflict and enables all sides to learn, to grow and to see the original conflict or disagreement in a new way.

2. Teach negotiation skills and attitudes

  • Aim for a win-win solution - believe it's possible.
  • Listen for understanding to the other side's story.
  • Ask questions to seek clarity.
  • Find common ground.
  • Decide what you are prepared to discuss.
  • Think about why your non-negotiables are non-negotiable.
  • Expect to be surprised by an interesting resolution.

3. Set up/find opportunities to try it out in class

  • Limit resources for a group or whole class task.
  • Limit time to make a group decision.
  • Debate subject-related issues.
  • Use negotiation skills on real conflict (playground).
  • Impose unreasonable rules and make pupils negotiate with you.

Values and Ethics

There's a negotiation technique called 'Bad Faith'. One or more parties pretend to negotiate but with no intention of reaching a compromise. And even with the most worthy purposes, conflict can be so deeply embedded that negotiation bears little fruit, or takes decades to make any headway (e.g.: Israel-Palestine). The success of negotiation relates to the integrity of those involved n the process as well as to the context in which they are negotiating.

In such a delicate and angry world it's surely essential to teach our pupils to aspire to negotiate, to be assertive, to be fair and to be willing to move beyond disagreement and into solutions that work for everyone. Let's see how Brexit shapes up.

A task for you: Negotiate time in an already packed curriculum to teach your pupils this important skill. Let me know how you get on.

New Resources:

Win-Win Thinking

Win-Win Thinking

A Thinking Skills Tool in which negotiated collaboration can raise achievement levels for everyone.

Categories: Thinking Tool, Collaborative Thinking, Teaching & Learning, Any Subject, Junior

Tags: Negotiation Collaboration Group Work
Free Standard Member Resource: Login or Join for Free to access this resource and others.

Win-Win Thinking PowerPoint

Win-Win Thinking PowerPoint

A Thinking Tool Template in PowerPoint for easy implementation of a Win-Win Thinking task in class.

Categories: Thinking Tool, Collaborative Thinking, Teaching & Learning, Any Subject, Junior

Tags: Negotiation Collaboration Group Work
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.

Negotiation Think Sheet

Negotiation Think Sheet

A Think Sheet to challenge pupils to make difficult decisions through negotiation and compromise.

Categories: Think Sheet, Collaborative Thinking, Skills-Based Learning, Any Subject, Junior

Tags: Negotiation Collaboration Group Work
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.


Additional Resources:

Thinking Classroom Archive:

Best Fit Thinking

Best Fit Thinking A Thinking Skills Tool for developing the skills needed for reaching a compromise and for achieving 'good enough' solutions.

Categories: Thinking Tool, Analytical Thinking, Thinking Skills, Any Subject, All Ages

Tags: Analysis Negotiation Justification Critical Thinking
Free Standard Member Resource: Login or Join for Free to access this resource and others.

Best Fit Thinking Powerpoint

Best Fit Thinking Powerpoint A Thinking Tool Template in PowerPoint for introducing Best Fit Thinking and for designing your own activities.

Categories: Thinking Tool, Analytical Thinking, Thinking Skills, All Ages, Any Subject

Tags: Analysis Negotiation Creative Thinking Justification
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.



Debating Skills

Debating Skills Information about how to embed debating skills in class and what the impact can be.

Opens in a New Window
Categories: Websites, Thinking Skills

Tags: Debate Negotiation


by Derek Arden

Win-Win <br>by Derek Arden How to get a winning result from persuasive negotiations. Ideas and techniques for effective negotiation.

Available from Amazon

Opens in a New Window
Categories: Suggested Books, PHSE

Tags: Debate Negotiation Growth Mindset

Next month we think about... Complex Problem Solving