Give & Take – Training the art of negotiation

A negotiation is rarely a winner-take-all event. Instead it is often a give-and-take. Therefore, our ability to perform and achieve negotiation prowess is determined by listening, trust, empathy and observation skills.

These teachable skills allow individuals to focus on the other person, and allow them to build rapport with their negotiation partner. It is a delicate process of finding and building connections instead of barriers.

Companies all over the world are employing training techniques (many derived from the Improvisation world) to teach the art of negotiation.

This article from Training Magazine  highlights many of these efforts, including the work being done at BATS Improv in San Francisco.

Improvisers learn how to:

  • Listen and react
  • watch for body language cues
  • pay attention to tone and inflection
  • use and be comfortable with silence
  • build trust by finding shared connections
  • become more aware of intent vs. interpretation
  • learn how “status” (dominance vs. submission) is a performance choice we are constantly making
  • create collaborative conversations
  • embrace failure
  • use role-plays and practice scenarios in a safe environment

Read the full article here: Give & Take |


TOOL: The Importance of Strong Offers

I’d hardly ever pass up an opportunity to teach an improv class to a new audience. This past week I was invited by Endgames Improv in San Francisco to lead their weekly drop-in class. Their drop-in class draws all skill levels and different numbers of people each week, so coming up with a topic and learning objectives for the class was a fun challenge.

I didn’t know my audience before-hand, so being able to adjust and adapt was key.

I decided to focus on offers. In Improv, we say, “Everything is an offer” – Everything we say or do on stage is an offer that we must use, notice and accept on stage.

We focused on 3 strategies for giving STRONG offers to our partners:

1. The importance of starting our scenes with positive offers (stay away from conflict/negativity right away)

2. Being specific

3. Staying on one offer

25 people filled our stage, and it was thrilling to facilitate a class for so many people. In Improv, starting positive, being specific and staying on one offer instead of hammering out too many details and ideas can take a while to get used to.

The advantages to making strong offers are endless – but most of all, it helps create a strong platform to start our scenes. The quicker we know where we are, who we are, and what our relationship is, the easier it is to improvise.

In applying Improv to business settings – how can focusing on strong offers help create more efficient meetings, for example? Just like on stage, do your partners in your meetings relax once the platform has been established?