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close this bookNegotiator : The Councilor as Negotiator: Handbook 7 (UN Habitat - United Nations Centre for Human Settlements )
close this folderPart II - Workshop on the councilor as negotiator
View the documentOverview
View the documentWarn - up exercises: what kind of negotiator are you?
View the documentTrainer presentation
View the documentRole play/case study: the bulldozer disagreement
View the documentExercise: the language of negotiation
View the documentRole play/case study: hawker/council confrontation
View the documentSkill transfer exercise



Negotiation is the dynamic process by which two or more parties come together to resolve a misunderstanding or disagreement and reach a decision they are prepared to live with. This workshop concentrates on how to achieve agreement and commitment using the method of "principled negotiation." Participants will recognize and use principled negotiation to get what they want from others without alienating them.

Let anger fly out the window.
- Old German proverb


A brief description of each learning activity is shown below with an approximation of the amount of time required. If you wish to change the order, to omit something, or to add training material of your own, feel free to do so.

7.1 Warmup exercise: what kind of negotiator are you

Participants recall several personal experiences where they were negotiating over something and share some of these experiences in small groups. (45 minutes)

7.2 Trainer presentation

Brief presentation on the role of councilors as negotiators. Draw on material from the preceding essay and your own experience to explain some of the best approaches to effective negotiating and how effective negotiators strive to achieve win/win solutions following a few basic steps. Describe role negotiation as a strategy councilors can use to resolve common role conflicts or ambiguities within a local government or between units or levels of government. (30 minutes)

7.3 Role playing/case study: the bulldozer disagreement

Participants role play a situation involving a dispute between two districts over the shared use of a bulldozer in order to seek a settlement of the dispute. (60- 75 minutes)

7.4 Exercise: the language of negotiation

Participants are asked to read six techniques used by experienced negotiators in the United States and the United Kingdom and to compare them with the negotiating practices of their own countries. (120 minutes)

7.5 Role play/case study: hawker/council confrontation

Participants, in two groups, are asked to read a situation involving conflicting interests about the activities of hawkers during an international convention. Participants play roles of a local council and hawkers in negotiating for their respective interests. (120 minutes)

7.6 Skill transfer exercise

Participants reflect on what they have learned and make personal commitments to put it to use after the workshop. (45 minutes)

Warn - up exercises: what kind of negotiator are you?

Time required: 45 minutes


This exercise is to help participants recall and share experiences with negotiation.

Ask participants to think about some personal experiences they have had with negotiating. Suggest that they ask themselves some questions about each experience using the questions listed on the next page or other questions that may occur to them.

After giving participants a few minutes to read and answer the questions, divide them into small groups of about five people. Give them about 30 minutes for the discussion.

When the small groups reconvene, ask for any patterns or insights that surfaced during the discussions.

Questions about personal experiences in negotiating something

1. Have you ever ...

· Bargained with a boss for a raise in pay, a better office location, or other improvements in working conditions?

· Gone over someone's head or by-passed normal channels to get reservations for a concert or play, tickets for an athletic event, or improved seating on an airplane or train?

· Pressed for more information when listening to a sales presentation?

· Hesitated to ask questions because you did not want to be seen as uninformed?

· In a personal relationship, tolerated abusive behaviour from another person because you:

- felt uncomfortable confronting the person,

- felt you might not be able to express yourself properly, or

- didn't want to hurt the other person's feelings even though that person's actions were hurting you?

2. Select one of the questions that you answered yes and answer the following questions about it.

What was the situation? __________________________________________________________

What do your responses to the situation say about you as a negotiator?


How would you describe your relationship with the other person following the situation?


Trainer presentation

Time required: 30 minutes


This presentation is to provide participants with ideas and perspectives on the negotiator role and a conceptual foundation they can use for the individual and group exercises included in this workshop.


Prepare the presentation based on information from the preceding essay on the negotiator role. In particular, explain some of the best approaches to effective negotiating and how effective negotiators strive to achieve win/win solutions following a few basic steps. Describe role negotiation as a strategy councilors can use to resolve common role conflicts or ambiguities within a local government or between units or levels of government.

Outlined information on note cards may help you cover the information systematically and stay on schedule. Ask questions from time to time during the presentation as a check on participant comprehension and to hold their attention. Augment the presentation with visual aids including pre-printed newsprint sheets and overhead transparencies as a further aid to comprehension.

Role play/case study: the bulldozer disagreement

Time required: 60 - 75 minutes


This exercise is for participants to use negotiation skills to settle a contract disageement between two districts over use of a bulldozer.


Distribute The Bulldozer Disagreement case. Ask participants to read the case and the role descriptions for three officials who are meeting to work out a settlement of the disagreement. Divide the participants into small groups of three participants each and ask each member of each small group to agree to play one of the three roles in the case.

When all small group members know the roles they will be playing, explain that each member of a small group is to enter into negotiations with the other members of his or her small group. The objective is to reach an agreement about use of the bulldozer that will be acceptable to the authority/department that each member represents. Tell small group members they will have 30 minutes to reach an agreement and to answer the following questions about the experience:

1. What did each party to the negotiation see as an acceptable solution to the disagreement?
2. What was the outcome of the negotiation?
3. What sort of process was used to achieve this outcome?
4. How satisfied are each of the parties with this outcome and why?

When time is up, call the small groups back together and ask for reports from each of them with particular emphasis on their answers to the four questions. Discussion.

The bulldozer disagreement

The situation

A disagreement has developed between Apac and Lira district authorities over the sharing of a bulldozer meant for the two districts. Apac District Resistance Councillors (DRC) are accusing their counterparts in Lira of having monopoly over the use of the bulldozer. In Lira, the authorities say they collect the machine from Apac only when it is idle.

The issue generated a heated debate in the District Developmet Committee (DDC) meeting in Apac last week. At that time, the councilors teamed up to fire a barrage of questions to Mike Odongo, Executive Engineer, Department of Works for both Apac and Lira. A councilor from Apac charged that, before the bulldozer was taken by Lira, some of the parts, like the blade, had been fixed using Apac funds. He suggested that Lira should compensate Apac for the repair cost.

Engineer Odongo said this was a trivial thing over which the parties could waste a lot of time. He pointed out that some of the parts on the bulldozer, like the blade, wear fast and are replaced nearly fortnightly.

The Apac DDC members, however, stood their ground. After more wrangling, Odongo commented that maybe a mistake had been made when the road equipment was given to the two districts to share.

Sam Ogenrwoth, the acting District Executive Secretary for Lira, commented that when the machine was collected by Lira, it was idle in Apac. He stated that it was first borrowed from Lira by the National Army's 2nd Division to do some road work at their base before it was handed over to the District Administration. The bulldozer currently is being used to do some work in Kioga County, Lira District, under the feeder roads maintenance programme.

Ogenrwoth said that two months earlier the District Secretary from Apac, Mr. Apire, saw him about the bulldozer. "I told them that, if they needed it, they should contact me. But since we met, they have never been in contact with me," he said, adding, "If the bulldozer is free now and if they make contact, we have no reason to retain it." Mr. Ogenrwoth expressed his opinion that it would not be cost effective for the equipment to move between Lira and Apac on a weekly basis because of the high cost to transport the machine.

Mr. Apire, who chaired the meeting, attempted to cool the tempers of DDC members from Apac by appealing for calm. He promised that the matter would be resolved "administratively" a meeting to be held within the week and attended by representatives of the two authorities.

Mike Odongo

You are the Executive Engineer for the Department of Works with responsibility for both Lira and Apac. The decision to allocate the road equipment for joint use of the two authorities was made on your recommendation. You had no idea that sharing the bulldozer, rather than be the benefit you had envisioned, would become a source of bickering and hard feelings. You hope representatives of the two authorities can be reasonable and work together to find a solution to the problem. If they can't, you are prepared to recommend against continuation of the shared arrangement and for moving the equipment elsewhere.

Sam Ogenrworth

You have principal responsibility for use of the bulldozer while it is in Lira's possession. You are puzzled by the unreasonable attitude of Apac officials. They have been told that they can contact you anytime they need the equipment and, if it is not in use on a Lira project, that they are welcome to collect it. However, you prefer a way of giving each authority possession of the equipment for at least two to three months at a time to avoid the high cost of moving the equipment more frequently.

Robert Apire

Responsibility for the bulldozer while in use by Apac has been given to you. Since the equipment was made available several months ago, Apac has had the bulldozer only once for a period of one week. Since then, it has been in Lira's possession. You agree with your colleagues that Lira has a monopoly on the equipment, a matter made worse by the fact that the only repairs made to the equipment have been made by Apac. On one occasion when you tried to make contact with Lira officials about collecting the bulldozer for a project, no one could be reached by telephone.

Exercise: the language of negotiation

Time required: 120 minutes


To foster a better understanding of the language of negotiation and its usefulness to elected leaders in various cultures.


Distribute a list of common techniques and phrases used by experienced negotiators in some parts of the world (list can be found on the next page). Ask participants to read the techniques and phrases and answer several questions about each of them as they relate to negotiation practices in their work environments.

Divide participants into small groups of five to seven and ask them to discuss the usefulness of the various negotiating techniques and phrases to councilors in their countries and to suggest alternatives.

Reconvene the participants after 30 minutes and ask for reports from each of the groups. General discussion.

Common negotation phrases and techniques

In their acclaimed book, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, Fisher and Ury use the term "principled negotiation" to describe a method of negotiation that is tough and fair at the same time - a way that, according to the authors, "shows you how to obtain what you are entitled to and still be decent."

Shown below are some stock phrases that a negotiator who practices principled negotiation might use to get what he or she wants from someone else without creating hurt feelings or a desire to get even.

1. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

When confronting another party about an issue to be resolved, the experienced negotiator will avoid language or behaviour that might make the other party feel threatened or defensive. For example, when bringing up an issue over which there is likely to be disagreement, the negotiator might say, "Please correct me if I'm wrong." By this statement, the negotiator assumes a posture of openness to persuasion and the appearance of willingness to consider the possibility of being mistaken about the other party's position.

Question? ...

Is this a negotiating technique that might be used by councilors in your country? If so, what language would you use, the same or something different? If not, what behaviour or language would you consider more effective?


2. Could I ask you a few questions ...?

Statements of fact can be threatening to people. Questions, on the other hand, allow for discussion and possible correction of errors in facts. By saying, "Could I ask you a few questions to see if my facts are right?" the experienced negotiator puts people at ease and gives the appearance of being open to the possibility of having received bad information.

Question? ...

Is this a negotiating technique that might be used by councilors in your country? If so, what language would you use, the same or something different? If not, what behaviour or language would you consider more effective?


3. Let me see if I understand ...

Parties who are negotiating for something often take a position based on incomplete or incorrect information (e.g., what they thought they heard the other party say or what they thought the other party meant by saying it). The experienced negotiator has learned to check out what has been said before offering a position. This is done by paraphrasing what has been heard or repeating it verbatim. Expressions like, "Let me see if I understand what you are saying," can prevent misunderstanding and show the negotiator's sincerity in trying to communicate.

Question? ...

Is this a negotiating technique that might be used by councilors in your country? If so, what language would you use, the same or something different? If not, what behaviour or language would you consider to be more effective?


4. Let me show you where I have trouble ...

Experienced negotiators will explain what bothers them about the other party's proposal before presenting their own proposals (e.g., "Let me show you where I have trouble with what you are proposing"). This is done to show the negotiator's openness to persuasion while encouraging the other party to listen instead of objecting or offering counterproposals.

Question? ...

Is this a negotiating technique that might be used by councilors in your country? If so, what language would you use, the same or something different? If not, what behaviour or language would you consider more effective?


5. A fair solution might be ...

To appear flexible but still specific in offering a proposal, the experienced negotiator might say something like, "A fair solution might be ...." The negotiator, thereby, creates the impression that he or she has thought of something that has the advantage of fairness to both sides. The negotiator's intent is to forward an idea without appearing rigid or uncompromising to the other party.

Question? ...

Is this a negotiating technique that might be used by councilors in your country? If so, what language would you use, the same or something different? If not, what behaviour or language would you consider more effective?


6. If we agree .... If we disagree ....

The objective of the experienced negotiator is to make it as easy as possible for the other party to agree. A useful strategy for doing this is for the negotiator to point out the rewards of agreement with his or her proposal (something good the other party can get just by agreeing) and the consequences of failing to reach an agreement (something the other party would find unsatisfactory or disagreeable should no agreement be reached). The negotiator leaves the unpleasant alternative open as a possibility, but with an expression of confidence that an agreement can be reached.

Question? ...

Is this a negotiating technique that might be used by councilors in your country? If so, what language would you use, the same or something different? If not, what behaviour or language would you consider more effective?


Author's Note: The stock phrases for the preceding exercise come from chapter 2 of Fisher, Roger, and Ury, William, Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, an acclaimed work on effective negotiating which is cited in the essay that opens this handbook.

Role play/case study: hawker/council confrontation

Time required: 120 minutes


To provide participants an opportunity to apply the techniques of principled negotiation (as defined in the preceding exercise and the essay presented earlier in the handbook) to find a mutually acceptable way for a city council to get what it wants without undermining or damaging relations with a powerful community group.


Tell the participants they will be taking part in a role-play/case-study concerned with keeping city centre streets clear of unnecessary street hawker traffic during the visit of conferees to an international conference being held locally.

Ask for six to eight volunteers to take part in a role-play exercise. Explain that half of the volunteers will be assuming the roles of city councilors and the other half will be assuming the roles of hawkers, an active, well organized, and sometimes militant group. Identify which volunteers will be playing which roles. Participants not playing roles will be asked to take part as citizen observers at a negotiation meeting between the two groups.

Give each group a description of the task (see below) and two conflicting roles (see The Trainer's Guide). Explain that the council's objective is to negotiate an agreement with the hawkers that gains their cooperation in getting the streets clear of congestion and traffic jams just before, during, and immediately after the conference. The hawkers, on the other hand, want to benefit economically from ready access to a lucrative new market - free-spending conference participants.

Give the two groups about 30 minutes to read and discuss the situation and decide on a strategy for getting what they want. Note: Some additional coaching at this point for the council group from the trainer on the use of principled negotiation methods will add to the learning value of this exercise for all participants.

While the two groups are discussing the task, ask the participants who are not playing roles to arrange tables and chairs for a negotiation meeting as shown in the room layout suggestion below. After about 30 minutes, reconvene the two groups to begin the exercise.


Seating arrangements for negotiators and observers

Seat the selected representatives of the two groups at the negotiation table. Seat non-participating members of the two groups in a circle around the negotiation table. Tell negotiators they have 20 minutes to reach an agreement. At the end of 20 minutes, call time and lead a discussion focused on the following questions:

1. What characteristics of principled negotiation were used by council negotiators to reach an agreement with hawkers? With what success?

2. How does it feel to be part of a team that uses principled negotiation strategies to reach an agreement?

3. How does it feel to deal with people who are using principled negotiation strategies?

4. Under what circumstances could your own council make use of principled negotiation?

The hawker/council confrontation

The situation

The city of Khulla has been selected by a prestigious international organization as the site for its annual conference and exhibition. The selection of Khulla as a conference site is important to the city's economically depressed business community. Several thousand conference participants will fill Khulla's hotels, restaurants and other businesses, giving a healthy boost to the local economy during their week-long stay in the city. City leaders have worked hard to bring the conference to Khulla and they want the event to be the best ever for the conference participants so it will encourage repeat business.

The only apparent obstacle to a successful conference is a difference of agreement between city leaders and the local hawkers who sell their wares from streetside booths and camel-drawn carts. Although a source of noise, clutter, and confusion on the city streets, the hawkers are a major contributor to the local economy. Moreover, they are efficiently organized to protect their collective interests.

Position of the city council and the hawkers

Position descriptions for the city council and hawkers can be found in Trainer's Guide to Training for Elected Leadership and may be duplicated by the trainer for distribution to role players.

Skill transfer exercise

Time required: 30 - 45 minutes


This exercise is to help participants transfer the learning experiences of the workshop into their real-world activities as elected officials. The focus of this exercise is on raising expectations, engaging in realistic planning, and making personal commitments. Most of the work is done on a personal basis with some interpersonal sharing.

Between knowing and doing there is a wide chasm.

It is generally agreed that the purpose of training is to improve the way people do things by showing them a better way. In fact, the success of a training experience can be measured by the amount of personal growth and change that takes place both during training and after the training is over.

Training rarely has the impact on workshop participants that trainers hope it will have, particularly after an exposure of only a few hours. The exhilaration of the moment fades quickly when the trainee is confronted with old work habits and the resistance of work associates who have not shared the training experience.

On the other hand, commitments to learning and change made at the close of a workshop can help participants overcome learning resistance in themselves and in the work environment. A trainer can help learners make a successful transition from the world of learning to the world of doing through a few simple planning exercises. Think about it this way. The time taken to encourage learning transfer could be the difference between a brief exposure to some interesting ideas and a life-changing experience.


Spend at least half an hour at the end of the workshop to focus the attention of participants on important learnings and encourage them to continue experimenting with these learnings in their council activities. Begin by giving participants about 15 minutes to work independently on a simple learning transfer questionnaire.

When participants have completed the questionnaire, ask them to share quickly with the group two or three things they intend to do differently in their council roles as negotiators to close the workshop.

A learning transfer questionnaire

Take a few minutes to reflect on the role of the negotiator, the new ideas you encountered in this workshop, and how you feel about them. Then, in the space below, write a sentence or two to describe something interesting you have learned about yourself during this workshop.


Based on what you have learned about yourself and the many possibilities for change presented by this workshop, what two or three things do you intend to do differently in your council role as negotiator?

1. ____________________________________________________________________________
2. ____________________________________________________________________________
3. ____________________________________________________________________________

Finally, what obstacles in yourself or in your work environment do you expect to experience during your efforts to implement these changes? What will you do to remove or minimize these obstacles?


Action to remove the obstacle


1. _______________________________

2. _______________________________

2. _______________________________

3. _______________________________

3. _______________________________

If you can learn it, you can do it.