Challenging Situations

For negotiations or solution recommendation exercises

Below you’ll find a list of challenging situations to be used for writing homework assignments, role-play, and class discussions.

  • #01 – Your cousin has discovered that your company needs a new marketing manager, and has asked for a recommendation they can present to your company’s HR department. You feel your cousin is quite under-qualified for the position.
  • #02 – Your apartment building has a no-pet policy, but you keep hearing barking in the apartment adjacent to your own. The barking is keeping you awake at night. You have left notes about the noise on your neighbor’s door, but the barking continues. (You can approach either your neighbor or the apartment manager on this issue.)
  • #03 – It is your wedding anniversary tomorrow. A few months ago, you and your spouse booked a table at a famous restaurant for tomorrow evening at 7 pm. Today your boss sent you an email claiming that you will lose an important client based in Hong Kong unless you fly there tomorrow to resolve a contract issue. (You can negotiate this with either your boss or your spouse.)
  • #04 – Due to unexpected hospital bills, you can not make the monthly payment due on your new car this month. (You can negotiate this with either the bank or a rich family member.)
  • #05 – You’d like to take evening classes on marketing that would require you to leave the office at 6 pm. Currently, your boss expects you to stay in the office until 8 pm. While you are not currently a member of the marketing department, you’d like to transfer to that department in the future.
  • #06 – You have read in the newspaper credible reports that your company may cut its labor force by a significant amount. You have just received a promotion to Director of Advertizing. You’d like to confirm the actual situation with the CEO, and then assess your job security.
  • #07 – You have been recently hired by a small company, and discover your company computer is 15 years old. You feel you would be much more productive on a new computer. You are having lunch with the head of procurement, and would like to bring up the issue.
  • #08 – You are a junior staff and notice that two senior staff members are taking excessively long lunch breaks, and their absence makes your job more difficult. (You can speak to either the senior staff members, or to the department head about this issue.)
  • #09 – You are the HR manager, and you have noticed that the performance of one once excellent employee has dropped by nearly 50% over the past few months. You’d like to know why and find a resolution.
  • #10 – You surprisingly discover that your end-of-year bonus was 30% lower than most of your colleagues. The only blemish on your recent work record was a failure to lock the office doors one evening three months ago.
  • #11 – The cigarette smoke from the smoking area in your office is drifting into your work area, and is quite annoying. However, there seems to be no other available desk locations in the office to which you can move. You want to consult your manager on this.
  • #12 – Your spouse is noticeably irritated that you spend so much time at work on weekends. Your boss is hinting that you may receive a significant bonus and a promotion if you become the top performer this quarter. (Negotiate this with either your spouse or your boss.)
  • #13 – Your boss has angrily blamed you for a major mistake on a report that a senior colleague actually made. (You can either speak to the colleague or to your angry boss about this issue.)
  • #14 – You’ve been recently married. One of your parents is dismayed that you and your spouse have chosen not to have children for a few years. You want to explain to your parents your choice.
  • #15 – You have known for a while that your spouse has been jogging early in the morning, and you’re very pleased that they are fit and healthy. However, you now discover that your spouse has been jogging with an unmarried person of the opposite sex.
  • #16: You needed a UK visa for your temporary relocation to the Manchester office in England. Prior to the UK visa application, you needed to ask HR in the London office to provide you with a labor number. Mrs. Duty was the only person who could handle this. Thanks to her, you were able to successfully obtain your labor number, get your UK visa, and are now working in the Manchester office. However, on your trip to London last week, you met Mrs. Duty, but were treated coldly by her. Other employees suggest this is because you failed to bring her a souvenir. You are now back at the Manchester office, and don’t expect to visit London for a few weeks. What should you do? First role-play getting advice from a colleague, then role-play an interaction with Mrs. Duty.
  • #17: Your immediate boss is quite sensitive about being told he is wrong. He has just written and published an English version of the company’s brochure that has several embarrassing grammar mistakes. You are not sure whether to speak to him directly about this, to keep quiet, or to talk to senior managers. First role-play getting advice from a colleague, then role-play an interaction with either your immediate boss or senior managers.
  • #18: You discover by accident that your boss is having a romantic affair with the wife of one of your client company managers. What action do you take? First role-play getting advice from a friend on this, then role-play any interactions necessary for a resolution of this issue.
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