25 Phrases You Need to Know for Business Negotiations in English

Negotiation is part of most business operations. It’s through negotiation that you create a business environment that supports making profits and serving your customers. Business deal making creates mutually beneficial bonds with employees, suppliers, customers, unions, government agencies, industry oversight boards, and the general public.

Due to the importance of joint decision-making in business, it’s important that managers attend at least one negotiating class designed to sharpen their skills. In training and within the business environment, there are some common phrases people in business come across when discussing joint agreements. Here is a list of 25 useful phrases and explanations of what the phrases may signify during business negotiations.

Making a Proposal

Creating an offer requires research and preparation. It’s wise to hold clear objectives in mind. Outline the possible outcomes of your meeting as well as undesirable outcomes. Prepare some alternative offers ready in case your initial offer meets some resistance. Some of the business English phrases most associated with making a proposal include:

  1. We would like to outline our aims and objectives.
  2. We propose that…
  3. Our position is…
  4. Would your team consider…?

Accepting Proposals

When negotiators agree to the terms and are ready to sign the deal, they may start using positive phrases. Some of the most common phrases at this point include:

  1. We are ready to sign.
  2. Let’s wrap this up.
  3. We can move forward and let the lawyers look at the fine print. 

Rejecting Proposals

It is the nature of dealmaking that some offers and proposals may not appeal to all involved. In negotiation classes, business managers learn how to use phrases that show dissatisfaction without closing the door to future engagement. A proposal rejection needs to be firm without being rude. Some common negotiation phrases used to signal a rejection of a proposal include:

  1. I’m afraid we can’t agree to…
  2. No, those terms are unacceptable to us.
  3. We are not interested.

Making a Compromise

Business talks are often characterized by offers and counteroffers. At times, an offer may seem acceptable except for a few clauses. To come to agreeable terms, businesspeople will often trade and claim value, creating a hybrid offer out of the previous offers and counteroffers. The language used when making a compromise may include:

  1. How flexible are you on…?
  2. We could sign if you…
  3. We may accept your offer on condition that…

Making an Objection

Dealmaking involves some give and take. On occasion, you may need to object to a proposal. It would be wise to be polite yet firm. Most business people may want to object to a clause while making a counteroffer at this point. Some common business negotiation phrases for making an objection include:

  1. We understand your position; however…
  2. From our perspective…
  3. I’m afraid we find those terms unfavorable.

Responding to a Suggestion

When making offers and counteroffers, suggestions may be floated to improve the deal. If you have attended negotiation classes, you probably possess skills to gracefully accept favorable suggestions or politely decline unfavorable suggestions. Some business negotiation phrases you may want to use in response to suggestions include:

  1. As an alternative, we propose…
  2. The suggestion makes the proposal less attractive because…

Cultural Idioms

Like in most situations, there are some cultural idioms associated with negotiation. Idioms are phrases that tend to mean more than the words suggest. Idioms are usually influenced by the culture of the speaker. Some common idioms you may come across in an English-speaking business negotiation setting include:

  1. Draw a line in the sand: This can mean to refuse to compromise beyond a certain point. For instance, refusing to lower prices beyond a particular figure.
  2. Back and forth: Refers to when people with different interests make offers, counteroffers, suggestions, reconciliations, and compromises as they seek to come to an agreement.
  3. Drive a wedge between: To say or do something that causes hostility or disagreement between people.
  4. Drive a hard bargain: Means to show very little willingness to make compromises when talking over a deal.
  5. Come to terms: Gradually reconcile interests and come to an agreement.
  6. Give and take: The act of making mutual compromises to move a discussion toward an agreement.
  7. Stand one’s ground: To be firm on the conditions you have set.

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