Useful expressions for negotiating
For successful negotiations you need to consider the personalities of the people involved, their culture, and their level of English. Using diplomatic language to build a relationship and reach a compromise is vital. Here are expressions you can use during each stage of the process:
1. Starting the negotiation
- Let’s get down to business, shall we?
- Shall we get started?
- Let’s make a start, shall we?
2. Stating your position/ purpose
- What we are looking for is...
- Our main concern is...
- There are two main areas that we would like to discuss…
- We have little/ no room for movement on price…
3. Finding out what the other side is looking for/ wants
- Would your team consider...
- Can I clarify your position on...?
- Would you consider/ be willing to...
- How feasible is it for you to...?
- What are your views on...?
- Would you be able to...?
4. Offering a compromise
The use of modal auxiliary verbs and conditional clauses will help you set out what you are willing to accept as a compromise.
- We can accept that if you...
- We might/ may be able to...
- We would be able to...
- Would you be willing to...?
- We may accept your offer on condition that...
- We could offer you ... if you can agree on...
5. Checking understanding
- When you say, ‘improve on the offer’, what do you mean?
- Have I got this right? You said you could finalise that by December?
- If I understand you correctly, you said you could finalise that by December.
- Could you clarify your last point for me?
- Does anything I have suggested/ proposed seem unclear to you?
7. Rejecting an offer
To soften bad news use these expressions before you give the bad news:
- I am afraid...
- I am afraid (your proposal) is out of the question.
- I am sorry, but we cannot accept that.
- That’s really not an option I am afraid.
8. Asking for a reaction to the offer
- How does that sound to you?
- Would that be acceptable?
9. Nearing settlement
- The last sticking point is...
- There are just a few loose ends to tie up...
10. Agreeing and closing the deal
- That seems acceptable/ reasonable to us.
- I think we have a deal.
- I think we can agree to that.
- I think we have covered everything, that’s a deal.
11. A final point on being polite
There are several techniques in English to sound more polite; moving away from the focus of ‘you’ can make you sound less direct and therefore polite. Here is an example:
- Perhaps I am not making myself clear.
The use of ‘perhaps’ helps to soften the sentence.
Vital: necessary, important.
Concern: to be connected or related with.
Movement: the act, process or result of moving.
Acceptable: capable or worthy of being.
Reasonable: moderate, logical.
This blog has been written at level B2. Practise your reading and listening by reading the blogs below.
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- Working online: what are the implications for language and communication? (level C2)
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- Business English for work and careers: 50 words you need to know (level C2)
- 'Fake news' expressions you should know (level C1)