Resolving Conflict with Negotiation Print

A Lesson Plan from Life Planning Education: A Youth Development Program

Purpose: To practice the skill of negotiation.

Materials: Leader's Resource, “Sample Conflict Scenario”(pdf);  newsprint and markers or board and chalk;   paper; pens/pencils

Time: Session 1: 45-55 minutes; Session 2: 45-55 minutes

Planning Notes

  • Review the Leader's Resource before conducting this activity. Rewrite or make any necessary changes in the Sample Conflict Scenario so participants will readily relate to it.
  • Create a poster on newsprint by writing each of the boldfaced beginnings of the five bullets in Step 2. Title it, “Ways of Resolving Conflict.”
  • On newsprint, write the four steps, listed in Step 6, of negotiating a win/win solution.


Session 1

  1. Point out that relaxation helps reduce the stress at the moment, but does not eliminate the cause of the stress. Stress caused by a conflict can be reduced if the conflict is resolved in a way that is acceptable to everyone involved.
  2. Display the poster, “Ways of Resolving Conflict,”  that you prepared.
    • Avoid conflict—Simply withdraw from any conflict.
    • Smooth it over—Pretend there's no conflict and everything is okay.
    • Win at all costs—Get what you want; the other person loses.
    • Compromise—Give up something you want to get something else you want.
    • Win/win negotiation—Use creative problem solving to give both people what they want or need.

      Explain each of these approaches to conflict resolution and ask teens for examples of each from their own experiences. Ask the group members which approaches they use. Explain that the first three typically cause problems, but the last two are very useful strategies. Place asterisks (*) beside “compromise” and “win/win.”
  3. Give an example of a common situation in which two parties reach a compromise:
    • A star athlete is about to sign with a pro team and is asking for a $15.5 million signing bonus. The team, even though they want this outstanding player to sign with them, is only prepared to pay him $5.5 million. The two reach an agreement that includes a compromise for both parties: The team offers, and the athlete accepts, $10 million. Ask the group to name the process that leads to such compromise agreements. (Answer Negotiation.)
  4. Ask teens for other situations where negotiation and compromise bring an agreement. (Examples include settling on the price of a car, union/management negotiations, divorce and child custody, negotiating border/land disputes between countries and so on.)
  5. Have the group brainstorm the advantages and disadvantages of compromising. Use their responses in two columns labeled “advantages" and "disadvantages." If no one suggests arriving at a peaceful agreement as an advantage, be sure to add it.
  6. Give the group an example of how a win/win negotiation benefits both parties. Read the examples in the Leader's Resource aloud. Post the four steps of successful win/win negotiation:
    • State your position. Using ”I” statements, say what you want or need.
    • Listen to the other person's position. Find out what the other person wants or needs. Restate the person's position to be sure you understand it.
    • Brainstorm win/win solutions. To do this, both should consider your needs and the other person's needs. Propose creative alternatives that will work for both.
    • Agree on a solution. Try it out. If it does not work, start the process over.
  7. Read the Sample Conflict Scenario. Ask the group to use the four steps above to come up with a win/win solution for Alonso and Shaundra, the couple in the story. (For example, Alonso could join Shaundra and Jackson in their afternoon session and could coach Shaundra while she rehearses what she will say for the report. He gets to be with her (win!), and with his coaching she might bring up her grade (win!). Perhaps Alonso and Jackson will become friends. Perhaps Alonso will start to feel more relaxed about Shaundra's nonromantic friendships with male peers.)
  8. Go over the instructions for the activity:
    • I will divide you into small groups of four or five. Each group must come up with a situation in which there is a conflict -  two parties who have a difference in opinion, values or goals. The conflict can be a real life situation that someone in the group is struggling with or you can make up a situation.
    • In your groups, write down the situation, then write a script for the two parties to negotiate a compromise. Be sure to work through all four steps and try to come up with a win/win solution.
    • When you have finished writing, prepare a brief roleplay in which the negotiation takes place and a solution is reached.
    • All groups will act out their role play during the next session. Bring any props you need.
  9. Divide participants into small groups. Record the names of teens in each small group and then circulate to offer help where needed.
  10. Allow participants to work until the end of the session. Circulate to offer ideas for how they can role play their negotiation. Remind them to use the four steps. Encourage groups to meet before the next session to practice their role play.

Session 2

  1. Remind the group that in the previous session, they were working on four steps to negotiating. Ask the small groups to get back together. Tell participants they have five minutes to review and get ready to present their role play.
  2. Then, ask for volunteers to present their role play to the whole group. When they are finished, ask the group to identify all four steps in the negotiation process. If any steps appear to be missing, work with the group to add or strengthen those steps.
  3. Continue with each role play until every group has had a chance to perform.
  4. Conclude the activity using the Discussion Points.

Discussion Points:

  1. Why do people have so much trouble negotiating a solution to a conflict? How might emotions get in the way of a win/win solution?
  2. Could violence have been an outcome in any situation? Which one? Why?
  3. What makes it easier to negotiate? What makes it harder?
  4. What can you do if you and another person fail to reach an agreement that feels okay to both of you? (Answer: Call in an objective “third party," such as a friend, teacher or counselor to serve as a mediator.)
  5. Is there a difference in the way men and women experience negotiation? If so, how is the experience different for men and for women? (Answer: Women are generally socialized to accept compromise and “lose" more easily, while men are generally socialized to try and hold their ground and “win.”)
  6. What are examples of situations in which you would be unwilling to compromise? (Possible answers: Situations involving religious beliefs, the law, life or death situations and so on.)
  7. How easy or difficult would it be to introduce this technique for negotiating to your parent or parents? Could you use it to resolve other differences at home?
  8. What current conflict could you resolve with negotiation? What solutions will you offer?


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