Having good prospects in a negotiation using a game

April 19, 2018

With the I&P Negotiation Cards, however, you have a good hand for your next negotiation. This game prepares you for potential situations that can occur at the negotiating table.

Complex negotiations can be something of a poker game. Only those who can put themselves in their counterpart's position will have a decisive influence on the game - even if you have an apparently bad chance of winning. With the I&P Negotiation Cards, however, you have a good hand for your next negotiation. This game prepares you for potential situations that can occur at the negotiating table. But unlike in poker, it is not about leading your counterpart up the garden path. Instead, you should find solutions that create common value, those which make both feel like winners.

You can use the cards in ones or twos, or even in a larger group.

Negotiation Cards Game Guide 

Preparing for a negotiation can be hard. Analyzing your starting situation in particular might be tougher and more time consuming than you think. The Negotiation Cards© will help you diagnose the core issues related to your negotiation - in a fraction of the time. In addition, the cards can be very useful, helping you reflect on important aspects of the preparation, how issues are connected and how you intend to approach them. The cards can be used not only as a quick preparation tool in the run-up to an actual negotiation, but also by everyone interested in better understanding and improving your negotiation skills.

Goal of the game: Do your best in an upcoming or ongoing negotiation. The negotiation cards confront you with potential contexts and strategies that might come up in the negotiation. At the end of the game, you will use the cards to analyze and discuss possible solutions specific to your situation.

Content: 111 playing cards

The Cards

The colored cards refer to the framework conditions of a negotiation. The yellow cards refer to human behavior during the negotiation process. The red cards refer to the nature of your negotiation. The green cards refer to personal assumptions, tactics & instruments during a negotiation. The blue cards will help you think through potential solutions, next steps and possible reactions to your specific situation. Blank cards are statement cards and can be used for your own, unmentioned observations.


There are countless ways to use the negotiation cards. The starting point is, however, the same in every variation: you have to deal with a difficult, complex negotiation. Here you will find suggestions for some ways to play which can also be modified and expanded. The more creatively you use the cards, the better. I look forward to your ideas: info@ismanundpartner.com.


With your colleague go through the yellow, red and green cards and let them select all cards that fit their current negotiation.

Ask him to be descriptive when he chooses the cards and to explain why they apply to him. If you are missing something - use a statement card to fill in.

Let him arrange the cards in relationship to each other (cause-effect, priority, preference etc.). Ask her to be descriptive when arranging them and to explain why he organized them in such a way.

Ask your colleague what would happen if these issues weren't tackled prior to the the next negotiation.

Now take the blue strategies cards and let him choose the next actions that seem appropriate. Discuss them with your peer. If you are missing something - use a statement card to fill in.

Now let him choose the three top priority issues and his three next favorite actions and operationalize them. Be clear and discuss, in detail, with your peer which actions should be taken by whom and define a timescale for tackling them.

Changing the Perspective

Now let your client take the perspective. He should play the game as described, but as if he were his negotiation counterpart. It is helpful to physically change chairs when doing this exercise. Ask him: Would he choose the same cards again? Would the solutions be the same? Then take a close look at the notes you’ve made and discuss the next steps, taking into account your new findings.


As a negotiation-coach follow the same steps as described above when consulting your client. At every step give your client enough time to think. Ask questions, clarify the situation he/she describes and take notes. The cards are generic, so you have to be sure that you understand the thoughts behind every card picked.


Couldn’t you find a colleague or an external negotiator to help you prepare for an important negotiation? Then it really is time for your empathy. Take the role of the questioner, go through the cards and proceed as in Way to Play 1, so that you can train yourself for the next negotiation.


If you are facilitating a negotiation workshop with your colleagues you can use the Negotiation Cards as an easy starter. Ask each participant to choose a card that describes their current situation in the negotiation. This can help you classify the problematic situations of all participants at the beginning.


The free interview is a very playful way to use the negotiation cards. Have your peer/customer draw a hidden card, regardless of its color. Ask him if the card content plays a role in the current negotiation, and how he might deal with it. By using the cards in such a way, you can have the advantage of extracting relevant negotiation aspects to which the player may otherwise not have attached much importance.

ISMAN & Partner
ISMAN & Partner ist eine Unternehmensberatung, die nationale und internationale Konzerne, mittelständische Betriebe und Start-ups, Organisationen und Institutionen bei komplexen Verhandlungs- und Konfliktlösungsprozessen begleitet. 2015 von Calin-Mihai Isman gegründet, unterstützen die Experten für Negotiation & Mediation Manager und Mitarbeiter aus den Bereichen Sales, Einkauf, M&A, Contracting, HR oder IT.


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