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LifeSkills Handbook Activity 21

This is a single activity session plan from The Lifeskills Handbook. There are 61 activity sessions altogether. The handbook is available from our resources section where you’ll also find downloadable storybooks, books and posters to help you in your work.

LifeSkills Handbook Activity 21
Communication: Negotiation

Purpose of activity:

To identify negotiating skills and methods to bring about a change.

Life skills: Communication & interpersonal relationships, self-awareness, critical thinking

Important points

Negotiations are more difficult when you are talking with someone with more power. They can use that power to threaten or silence you or to ignore you. It can be useful to look for go-betweens (an uncle, an older friend etc.) who have similar power.


  • A chart showing symbols for the six steps in negotiation:
Click the image to view larger version.



  1. Explain that negotiation involves putting yourself in the place of the other person and understanding their point of view. This is good for several reasons:
    • It means you appreciate and respect the other person’s point of view. This reduces the risk that you will say something that causes conflict and hurt.
    • If you recognise the other person’s point of view, they will become more willing to recognise yours.
    • Good negotiation should result in both people gaining something.
  2. Explain there are six steps in negotiation:
    1. Say what you feel using I statements.
    2. Listen to what the other person has to say to find out what they need or want.
    3. Tell the person what you understood, so you are sure you understood it.
    4. Together, think of as many ideas as possible that may bring a solution to the problem.
    5. Agree on a solution.
    6. Try it. If it doesn’t work, start again!
Remember that sometimes you have to compromise.
  1. Divide children into pairs and ask them to practice negotiating using one of the following situations. (Adapt these ideas to suit the experiences of your group, but try to include some more simple situations and one or two serious ones.)
    • Your friend plays music loudly when you are trying to do your homework. He says it helps him concentrate.
    • A group of children tease you for attending life skills sessions. They call you ‘the AIDS guy’ and pay no attention when you want to share your ideas with them.
    • Your partner wants to have sex, but you don’t think you are ready yet.
    • You are a domestic worker. When you started work, you were promised a salary and that you would be sent to school. Six months have passed. You have received no money or education.
    • Your stepmother pays all her attention to her own children. She makes you do all the household chores. (Cinderella!)
    • There is a new teacher who thinks that the only way to establish his authority is to cane the students as much as possible.
    • Your father often gets drunk and shouts at your mother.
  2. After the pairs have practised, they then demonstrate their roleplays. Encourage the group to make recommendations and act out different options. Encourage children to be realistic: often the powerful person will not accept ideas even if the reasons are good.

Final discussion:

  • How easy was it to negotiate in these situations?
  • How do the negotiations change when you are negotiating with someone in authority? Or with a group of people?
  • Do negotiations always work? If they don’t, what else can you do?

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