Effective Communication, Persuasion & Collaborative Skills

These one or two-day workshops (0900-1730hrs) in effective communication, persuasion and collaboration skills are taught by Leon Conrad, a highly experienced communication skills specialist who has run training courses for business for over 20 years.  In negotiation training, Leon specializes in understanding body language, active listening techniques, how to phrase questions, and reframing difficult situations and concepts through rhetorical devices such as of analogies, allegories, similes, metaphors and paradoxes. An expert in the elements of rhetoric, Leon teaches how to control one’s voice using rate, volume and pitch to convey the appropriate emotions a negotiator needs to employ at different phases of the bargaining process.

These workshops, designed for students ranging from the sixth-form (high school) to post-graduate university level,  offer a new approach to developing effective communication, persuasion and collaboration skills in the specific context of the Harvard method of principled negotiation using the Odyssey Dynamic Learning approach, developed by David Pinto and Leon Conrad. In addition to its value in communication and persuasion skills training for negotiators, it helps encourage key team-working skills, essential to the professional workplace.

Schedules and learning outcomes

Day 1: Effective Communication and Persuasion Skills for Negotiators


At the start of the course, the Odyssey GridTM is introduced. It will provide the structure for the day’s course, which will take you on your own Odyssey learning journey.

Odyssey Journeys are conducted via Odyssey Grids: innovative non-linear content-free learning tools, with inspiration built in. The Grid consists of coloured pieces. Each leads to an activity which is relevant to our topic: Effective Communication and Persuasion Skills for Negotiators. The aim of the journey is to reach a new and valuable bit of knowledge, symbolised by the blank piece at the bottom of the grid by the end of the day. Like the best games, this Odyssey GridTM has simple, easy-to-understand rules to get from start to finish.

In this session, we will be covering essential nuggets of knowledge (marked in blue on the Grid). These essential activities cover the importance of presence, use of story structure and of managing emotions. The order will be chosen at random by you, the participants.

You will be asked to make meaningful connections between the activities as we progress through the day. 

Coffee Break

After the break, and into the beginning of the afternoon session, you will explore complementary material (marked in red, pink and green on the Grid). You and your fellow participants will be able to choose around 5 or 6 activities at random from the 12 remaining activities shown on the Grid to embed this learning, use skills in practice, and make intuitive connections between the activities we will be exploring.

The content covers issues such as:

  • Getting more out of your voice
  • Channelling emotions and building rapport
  • Engaging listeners and building empathy
  • Building credibility and trustworthiness
  • Speaking with clarity and eloquence
  • Arguing soundly to build common value
  • Developing flexibility and awareness of body language
  • Developing awareness of status-based relationships and how to ensure they work for you and not against you

Working Lunch (1300-1400hrs)

Screening of the BBC Video, “Battle for the Brent Spar”.


You will continue to explore practical techniques to enhance your personal presence, flexible ways of using story structure and narrative engineering to present your arguments more persuasively, and practical ways to manage your emotions. What’s more, you will not just learn about them in terms of theory, you will be applying these skills in practice using the Harvard Business School Case Study, “Sunk Costs: The Plan to Dump the Brent Spar” (Part A). In this practical role play task, you will examine the specific facts and issues facing negotiators from oil giant Royal Dutch Shell and the environmentalist group, Greenpeace, and prepare to present a five-minute (maximum length) group opening statement (around 500 words) that you will have worked on throughout the day, that expresses your team’s views and emotions as you put your approach to collaboration and principled negotiation on the subject into practice.

In 2013, “Sunk Costs: The Plan to Dump the Brent Spar”, written by Samuel Passow, was included in the Premier Case Collection, a specially selected set of the best Harvard Business School cases. The newly defined collection includes 500 cases across all disciplines. Cases in the Premier Collection are either current bestsellers or have been chosen for inclusion by HBS faculty. All Premier Collection Cases have been class-tested at HBS, and some have proven especially ”teachable” or have received an enthusiastic response from students.

Coffee Break

After the break, you will present your opening statements and have the chance to get coaching and feedback on your delivery.

At the end of the day, we arrive at our final destination on our Odyssey Journey: the blank piece at the bottom of grid. What we will discover there is, as yet, unknown. We will find the treasure by engaging in the treasure hunt, by undertaking the journey, by going on this collective Odyssey journey together. And we will have loads of fun and surprises on the way … guaranteed!

Because of the unexpectedness, and randomness of the connections, they usually lead to new insights which emerge from ‘the space between’ the activities. And the learning that takes place in the room is typically deeper and more memorable as a result.

New program for training young negotiators

Day 2: Effective Collaboration Skills for Negotiators

The bespoke Odyssey GridTM devised specifically for this course consists of a header row of black shapes, which indicate the type of content to be found in each type of shape on the Grid:


In this course, we will be working on 5 essential points of knowledge relevant to the process of collaboration in the context of principled negotiation: Open & Close, Batman, ZOPA, Status, Fields (all shown in squares on the Odyssey GridTM). Between these, we will aim to fit around 4 or 5 other activities, chosen randomly by you (the participants) on the day.

The aim of the journey is to reach a new and valuable bit of knowledge, symbolised by the blank piece at the bottom of the grid.

The number of non-square Grid pieces we visit will depend on the time spent on activities as we go through the day. Our aim is to get to the end of the last activity by 1645 (on a course day that ends at 1730). At this point, we will jump to the blank piece at the bottom of the grid which is blank because the new, valuable bit of knowledge that you will find there will emerge as a result of the choices you make and the connections you make between the activities as you go.

It is the random element that makes Odyssey journeys exciting – and ensures no two courses are ever the same, keeping the approach to the content fresh and vibrant, and lessening the gap between facilitator and participants, because everyone is venturing into the unknown together!

You might ask, if we are limited to only choosing around 4 activities from the many possibilities on the grid, “Will I be missing out?” No – you will be gaining. We will be covering the essentials in every course. However, the connections that emerge from making connections between these essential components and other randomly chosen elements are often exciting and vibrant – because of the unexpectedness, and randomness of the experience. They usually lead to new insights which emerge from ‘the space between’ the activities. And the learning that takes place in the room is typically deeper and more memorable as a result.


In this session, we aim to cover 3 activities from the Odyssey GridTM. You will apply the knowledge you have acquired to the Towers Market case study, an exercise in multi-party collaborative negotiation that we will return to throughout the day. 

Key learning points to be covered within the essential group include

  • How to spot hidden opportunities to create shared value
  • How to work effectively as a team member
  • How to balance individual and group issues when defining a BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) collaboratively
  • How to enhance your awareness of status-based relationships and ensure they work for you, not against you
  • How to think flexibly and reframe scenarios quickly – seeing things from different angles and points of view

As we go through the day, you will be asked to make connections between the randomly selected activities that are meaningful to you, which will be discussed and expanded on in the final session of the day.

Coffee Break

Another 2-3 activities from the Odyssey GridTM will be covered in this session. The Grid comprises additional content which deals with the following issues:

  • How to listen actively
  • There is more than 1 way of coming to a fair and agreeable settlement
  • How to ask questions in ways which elicit value
  • How to move from painful issues to pleasurable outcomes
  • How to see (and solve) the problem, not the person
  • How to consciously expand your sphere of reference to create opportunities for adding value in the context of a negotiation

You will then have the opportunity to apply your skills to a role play exercise in collaborative negotiation and further extend the connections between the activities selected.



A further 2-3 activities will be covered during this session. You will have the chance to apply skills learned in practical ways, which could include one or more of the following:

  • Devise fables to use to break down positional barriers that could get in the way of a value-based outcome to a negotiation
  • Use storytelling techniques to enhance empathy and demonstrate understanding
  • How to use language constructively to build value, rather than create difference
  • How to differentiate objectively between what really matters and what there can be flexibility on where possible
  • How to find different ways of ‘dividing up the pie’
  • How to use story structures to inspire value-based approaches to negotiation

As before, you will have the opportunity to apply your skills to a practical role play exercise in collaborative negotiation and deepen and embed your emergent knowledge.

Coffee Break

In the final session of the day, we will cover no more than 2 activities from the Odyssey GridTM, leaving time to reflect on the way randomly selected activities have connected for you personally throughout the day, and the over-arching learning points that emerged for you from the process.


“Odyssey: Dynamic Learning System by David Pinto and Leon Conrad proposes an unusual and imaginative program of learning when schools are calling for conventionality.”

Jack Zipes, Leverhulme Visiting Professor of Storytelling, Fairy Tales and Fantasy, Anglia Ruskin University, UK 


If you have any further questions about Odyssey or this course designed exclusively for the Negotiation Lab, please contact us at info@negotiationlab.co.uk