There’s a great evaluative question that was developed by a well-known academic institution, it’s called the $1000 Game.  It’s an effective activity that I recommend to all organizations looking to improve their negotiation skills. Although simplistic to the naked eye, it gives us great insight into who we are as a negotiator.  I’d highly recommend you answer the following question for yourself.

The $1000 Game Question:

  • Imagine you are one of ten people (all strangers) sitting around a table
  • Someone comes in and says, “I will give a prize of $1000 to each of the first two people who can persuade the person sitting opposite to get up, come around the table, and stand behind his or her chair.”
  • What would you do???  You must move quickly, what is your IMMEDIATE instinct?
  • Please answer this question for yourself before looking at the options below

A) Decide not to play

  • This is the approach of the Avoider
  • Prefers not to get involved in the dispute at all
  • Dislike stress
  • Avoids situations with “winners” and “losers”
  • Can be (surprisingly) very difficult to negotiate against

B) Run over and stand behind the chair of the person opposite you, trusting that she will give you a fair share of the $1000

  • This is the approach of the Accommodator
  • Resolves conflict by solving the other party’s problem
  • If the counterpart is similar, he shares the wealth
  • If the counterpart is not similar, the Accommodator may end up with nothing

C) Yell at the person sitting across from you that he should run over and get behind your chair and that you’ll share the money with him if he does

  • This is the approach of the Competitor
  • First instinct is to see “zero-sum” allocations
  • Likes to “win”
  • May even lie if he’s asked to get up and move, claiming he has a sprained ankle

D) If the person across from you is offering you $500 to stand behind her chair, take the deal (even if you made the same offer to her)

  • This is the approach of the Compromiser
  • Favors deals that give something to each party
  • Interested in maintaining relationships
  • Tends to “split the difference”

E) Suggest to the person opposite you that you BOTH get up and stand behind each other’s chair, so you BOTH get $1000

  • This is the approach of the Collaborator
  • Tries to find a way for both parties to get the best outcome
  • Willing to be creative and brainstorm
  • May not be successful against a strong competitor

So, what style of a negotiator are you?  

Most people have a little bit of each of them but we all gravitate towards a default tendency (a dominant style).  For example, my default is a COMPETITOR.  Being a “natural” competitive negotiator serves me very well when negotiating one-off deals (car, house, etc.) but can get me into trouble when negotiating strategic partnerships or when negotiating internally with sensitive colleagues.


Knowing who you are as a negotiator is crucial to your success in business and in life. As you continue reading my blogs, you’ll notice that I frequently visit this subject of self-awareness and its impact on all facets of our professional and personal life.


Was the ‘$1000 Game’ activity helpful in potentially improving your negotiation skills?  Please, tell me about it…


activities for negotiation skills training_Tony Perzow

Tony Perzow is a former negotiation trainer at the Karrass Organization and Vice President of negotiation training at Strategic Pricing Associates, his mission is to help others be insanely successful. His highly engaging workshops shatter the myths and misconceptions that prevent most companies and individuals from negotiating effectively.  A polished and engaging presenter, Tony has trained top executives from many of the leading Fortune 500 companies. His upcoming book, You Suck at Negotiating – But You Don’t Have to with a Mindful Negotiation Practice goes beyond the theory of negotiating by providing practical, action-oriented information. Before his career as a negotiation trainer, Tony was a top sales performer, procurement specialist, and entrepreneur. He’s been a buyer and seller of some of the world’s largest closeouts, negotiating with such companies as Walmart, Amazon, and Costco. He’s also been a successful restaurateur, real-estate developer, and award-winning film producer. Tony has trained top executives from such companies as Apple, Red Bull, Samsung, PNC bank, MGM, Starz, Boeing, Rolls Royce, Pepsi, and Waterpik.