Words and expressions to know to negotiate in English
When you have to negotiate in English, it is a good idea to not only know your product or service, but to know some of the common expressions and words that are used. You don’t want a misunderstanding to cause the negotiation to end unsuccessfully. Below are ten common words and expressions that you may hear while negotiating in English.
- Suggesting an idea, change or compromise. When we make suggestions, we normally have a phrase in front of the suggestions to make it more polite and softer. We normally include the reason for the suggestion as well.
– We propose (that) _________________.
We propose that we change the shipments to twice a month. It’ll save us both money.
– Maybe you could ____________________.
Maybe you could lower the price. Your current price is too high, and it’ll make our product too expensive.
– Would you consider ___________?
Would you consider a 10% increase in fees, starting next year? You want 12%, but that’s a little too much.
Directly making a suggestion without one of these phrases could make what you say sound like a command. Some cultures speak this way, and it is acceptable within the culture, but direct suggestions in English can sound rude or abrupt.
- Accepting another person’s idea, suggestion or change needs to be signaled clearly during business negotiations. Some cultures such as the Japanese prefer not to make direct statements of acceptance right away as they will need to discuss the matter together first. In English, we like to signal agreement clearly; however, we don’t often say, ‘I agree’ despite the fact many textbooks teach ‘I agree’
– That sounds good. This phrase shows agreement, and that the person is pleased with what you just said.
Jim: We can increase our shipments to your firm by 20%, beginning next month.
Emma: That sounds good. My director will be glad to hear this.
– We’re ready to sign. We say this to indicate that we are ready to sign a contract.
Jim: So, what do you want to do?
Emma: Our lawyers are happy with the details. We’re ready to sign.
– Let’s wrap this up. We say to signal that we want to end the talks, and that there is a general agreement on what has been said. It can signal the desire to sign contracts or make a formal agreement.
Jim: Okay. Everything looks fine. Let’s wrap this up.
Emma: Sure, I’ll get the contract ready and we can sign it next week.
- Rejecting is something that we try to do politely. It can be confusing to hear some of these phrases since you may be listening for a textbook phrase such as ‘we don’t agree.’
– I’m afraid that doesn’t work for us. This phrase signals that what your offer isn’t acceptable to the other person or firm.
– No, those terms are unacceptable to us. This is probably the most direct of the three expressions. The use of ‘no’ and ‘unacceptable’ indicates that the other firm really is unhappy with the contract or proposal.
– We are not interested. This one can confuse people from other countries. It doesn’t indicate boredom; the phrase shows that what you offer is not something the firm wants. It’s a way of saying ‘no.’
- Idioms may be spoken during a negotiation, and idioms can be rather confusing if you haven’t heard them before. Some common ones are shown.
– Drive a wedge between is an idiom that means something which causes hostility or disagreement between people.
Jim: These new prices are going to drive a wedge between our two firms
– Drive a hard bargain is an idiom that means to show very little willingness to make compromises during negotiations.
Justin: The Americans want to drive a hard bargain for the new trade deal.
Bill: I know. They always do.
– Stand my/our ground is an idiom that means you or your company are firm on the conditions you have set. You will not change them usually because you can’t without hurting your company.
Jim: I’m sorry, but we have to stand our ground on the price. Any lower and we would lose money.
Learn how to conduct a negotiation in English
Negotiation isn’t only about using the appropriate words and phrases. Different cultures have different expectations and norms. What works well with a German firm may not work with an English company. The business etiquette in Greece is probably not the business etiquette in England. At GlobalExam, we understand this concept well, so we have incorporated culture into our new Business English programs.
How to negotiate well thanks to Business English
Business English has specific needs such as negotiating. A general English course cannot cover business English in the detail that is needed for you to succeed in your workplace. That’s why we have created a new set of courses that are only for business English. You need to know how to negotiate, not just the words and phrases, but the cultural aspects as well.
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Boost my Skills is intended to get you ready to function effectively in meetings, on the telephone, in project management, writing emails, attending receptions and other events, going on business trips, handling recruitment, intercultural, sales and negotiations. We give you the needed grammar and vocabulary for these topics, too.
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