T-Trade Game for Building Negotiation Skills

Satisfy individual and organizational goals through negotiation

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"To understand negotiation we must understand that all power lies in the interactions between people. Skilled negotiators build bonds, focus on goals and develop dialogue, creating robust relationships that can handle the pressures of the negotiation process" -- Dr. George Kohlrieser

T-trade involves three groups, each trying to achieve the best business outcome for themselves but needing to 'make deals' with other groups in order to be successful. How do they go about making mutually acceptable agreements and yet maintain their focus on achieving the best individual team results they can?

It is an ideal experiential activity for those involved in selling, creating contracts, agreeing commercial ventures or setting up price and supply agreements. The exercise offers the opportunity for participants to explore the negotiation process and the specific stages needed to reach a resolution.

The exercise takes some time if the negotiation process is allowed to develop and build. The basic exercise needs 90 minutes, plus time for briefing and de-briefing. Ideal numbers are three teams of 3-6 people, each working in a separate location.


  • How to develop skills in 'building bonds'.
  • How and when to make concessions.
  • How to manage the power of individual interactions.
  • How to resolve conflicts so that everyone achieves some of what they want.
  • How to say, "No" and yet maintain a relationship which will allow for future negotiation.


Two carefully researched and designed group learning activities from RSVP Design's toolbox range. The activities come boxed with all the components required, full participant briefing instructions, facilitator's manual and a suggested review process, based upon predicted learning outcomes.

Also included with T-trade is a separate activity called Post-iT. Post-iT is a cross team collaboration activity in which 3 small groups, separated from each other and with restricted communication, need to work together to achieve the whole team challenge. This exercise focuses on remote team communications. In practice it often highlights the differing roles between leadership, management and operations, highlighting where these levels need to intervene to ensure that understanding is achieved across the whole organisation in order to complete a difficult task. Sufficient resources are provided to run two separate, parallel groups playing Post-iT. Each group will require 1 x facilitator.


Exercise 1: T-trade involves a series of 'rounds' of negotiation between three teams who never all meet. They are negotiating for resources which can be used to build constructions, each of which is worth a different value. Alongside the negotiation process, they must complete the physical constructions and keep their minds on the bigger picture.

Exercise 2: Post-iT - In this variation, the activity focuses on issues of trust, competition and collaboration between teams, each of which has a different amount of knowledge about the task they are engaged upon. Using a limited communication network, the teams must identify their task, share information and meet a deadline for the presentation of their solution.

What are the business benefits of this resource?

The activities in the T-trade toolbox focus on developing fundamentally important business skills. The exercises teach skills of negotiation, persuasion and influence as well as tackling the organisational cost of inappropriate competition. Two significant and powerful exercises allow managers to observe individual behavior and attitudes to others, as well as demonstrating practical logic, accuracy in communication and ability to maintain focus on the 'bigger picture'.

Some examples of how it is used:

  1. The TNT Legal Community used T-trade as the basis for a workshop on business negotiation. In a multi-national, multi-cultural community the exercise highlighted enormous differences in negotiating styles and expectations, the 'rules' by which negotiations were conducted and the different levels of emotion and energy the teams brought into the negotiation. In reviewing the exercise, the lawyers were able to explore their own negotiating principles' and recognised the huge need to build strong relationships before even attempting business and legal negotiations.

  2. "In an hour and half, T-Trade provides an opportunity to discover and analyse the success factors of negotiation. The rules are quickly explained and teams are immediately in action. The first round of negotiation clearly demonstrates the need to discover others needs and expectations, and rapidly creates a climate of trust. The second and third round reward teams that can develop win-win relationships to maximise result. A vital and enlightening for any sales person or manager. Simple but not simplistic. An imaginary world but very real discoveries Fun but also serious and lasting learnings." -- Guy Bergeaud, Eagle's Flight, France

  3. "learning partnerships has been using T-Trade on a leadership development programme for doctors during the Autumn of 2006. It has proved to be an excellent way of enabling participants to explore the issues that arise in negotiations in a 'live' and relevant way. It has also brought in issues of time management, representation, team dynamics and influencing. All together a great addition to the course. Many thanks to RSVP." -- Mike Cambray, Learning Partnerships


T-Trade Game for Building Negotiation Skills

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