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This month Rational Games has been, like so many other training providers, engrossed in a valiant effort to see how much of our traditional training content can be moved online and offered digitally.  I am pleased to report that my fairly wonderful team has now created a two- day course suitable for various sorts of content (negotiation, ethics, leadership), which we have already tested internally (disastrously) and then with three paying clients (strongly positive results).  It is possible!

We have for several years been discussing “E-Learning” but never done much about it.  Too complicated, too expensive, no client that will underwrite the costs.  The virus changed all those assumptions.

So far, I can offer three main takeaways from our emerging digital training experiences:

  1. Even negotiation, an interpersonal communication skill can well be taught online.  I was surprised to learn that, with a little creativity, we can deliver fully 80-90% of the content that we usually offer in the classroom in this new and very different format. Especially on Zoom, breakouts, chatlogs, screenshares and announcements come tantalizingly close to a real world situation.

  2. In some ways, digital learning is even more effective than real-time. Certainly, there is no substitute for the physical “touch” of in-person negotiation, as we always said. But I am finding digital seminars more intense, more focused and even more rewarding than the traditional in-person variety. Even the interactivity increases, as I learn to call on participants crisply and, when confronted with multiple faces and raised hands looking at me all at once, can no longer ignore questions or interventions. The workshop truly becomes their seminar as much as mine.

  3. This new “artificial” way of teaching is actually more realistic than we think. Even before the virus halted most travel worldwide, many real world negotiations had already been moved online, if only due to cost considerations. So it is important that we trainers learn to capture, reflect on and teach the particular challenges of online negotiation. This can include questions like how to “read” the other side with only limited body language information and how to pace things in this format.

Overall, a very positive and energizing learning experience, and digital and especially blended learning will definitely become a part of our standard offering even after the crisis has passed – stay tuned for the announcement at

Comments welcome and we are happy to swap notes on our experiences!


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