Useful English Phrases you must know for Business Negotiations
Learning how to communicate using a formal negotiation language gives you an advantage. May you be a professional or a business owner, you can use this skill in different situations. If you are targeting to deal with a foreign company, venture into the export market or enter into foreign trade, knowing how to communicate in the international market effectively will increase your chances of being successful. Part of going global is encountering people that are speaking a language different from you, hence requires you to use a bridge language to be able to interact and negotiate with them. Since much global business is conducted in English, it is best to learn how to negotiate using it.
To have better cross-cultural communication and improve your side of a deal, there are certain phrases in English which you can use in business. Knowing what to say in certain turning points of negotiations will help you and your counterpart accurately understand each other. To increase your chances of getting the best deal possible for yourself or for your company here are some general negotiation phrases you can use during a negotiation.
Welcoming and establishing a rapport
Fostering a positive image even at the start of the negotiation will help you to lay the groundwork for a positive relationship. People become more agreeable when they see that you are considerate and welcoming. Also, business owners prefer to do business with companies with which they have a good relationship. Interacting with professionals in a positive and inviting way creates an encounter that they will want to repeat. People naturally want to deal with companies that have earned a good impression during a meeting.
- “I would like to welcome you to…”
- “How was your trip?”
- “Did you have a good journey?”
- “Is this your first visit to…?”
- “Would you like anything to drink?”
Setting the negotiation agenda
The way you begin the discussion sets the tone for the entire negotiation meeting. Breaking the ice with a light small talk could help reduce any tense atmosphere. You may do this by agreeing on the agenda and stating the positive goals that both parties want to achieve for the meeting. To start a negotiation, here are some of the phrases you can use.
- “Before we begin, shall we have a look at the main points on the agenda?”
- “Should we have a look at the main points for today’s discussion?”
- “To start with, I think we should establish the overall procedure”
- “I’d like to outline our aims and objectives.”
Asking if the other party is in agreement
After laying down the agenda, it is best to ask if the other party is in agreement. This shows your consideration on your counterpart and helps you to confirm whether there is something more to include in the discussion. Some of the questions you can use are listed below.
- “How do our objectives compare to yours?”
- “Is it acceptable to you?”
- “Is there anything you’d like to add?”
After formally setting up the agenda, the next phase is delivering a value proposition. This has to be presented in an effective way to increase the chances of your success. To introduce your proposal you may use the following phrases below.
- “We’d like to propose that…”
- “Concerning your proposal, our basic position is…”
- “We’ve got several options…”
Effective questioning for proposals
To better understand what is being proposed, you would have to get further information. This will help you to identify possible opportunities and repercussions, uncover the needs and find alternative options that you can use when making a decision. Some of the questions you can use when asking further details are listed below.
- “What are your views on…?”
- “How do you feel about…?”
- “Could you be more specific?”
- “Would you like to suggest a course of action for…?”
Responding to suggestions
At some points in the negotiation, you would have to provide suggestions and solutions to the proposal that have been presented. This is especially needed when a deadlock has been reached to avoid being stuck. When providing your suggestion, here are some phrases you can use:
- “Considering that I would like to suggest…”
- “Now that you mentioned it…”
- “Maybe it would be better to…”
- “Perhaps a better idea would be…”
- “I’d like to make an alternative offer. I propose that…”
- “From where we stand, a better solution might be…”
After introducing your suggestion, it is best to justify it by supporting it with good arguments. If the arguments are sound and make sense for both parties, it will possibly be the option that can be taken. You may use the following phrases below to present your reasons.
- “One of the key reasons for this is…”
- “This is because…”
- “I am basing my solution on three ideas/points/reasons: first,… second,… lastly..”
Conveying your priorities at certain points of the discussion will help in making the other party understand your target. Knowing what aspect you give importance to the most will enable them to consider your preferences and needs. This will help you to come up with an agreement that works best for both of you. You may express your clear goals by using the following phrases:
- “We might like to…”
- “Our main priority is…”
- “Our intention is…”
- “The most important issue for us is…”
To avoid taking the negotiation in the wrong direction, it is best to ask for clarification on the spot when a detail presented seems ambiguous or vague to you. Use any of the phrases below to clarify a detail.
- “What exactly do you mean by…?”
- “Are you suggesting that…?”
- “Could you clarify one point for me?”
- “Could you be more specific?”
- “In other words, you feel that…”
When an acceptable suggestion or proposal has been presented, express that you are in agreement with it. This will help you to come to a favorable negotiation outcome. You may convey your understanding or agreement on a point by using any of the phrases below:
- “I agree with you on that point.”
- “You have a strong point there.”
- “I think that would be acceptable.”
- “That’s a fair suggestion.”
- “That sounds great to us.”
- “I am with you on that.”
Expressing disagreement and giving reasons
Disagreements are part of negotiating and should be expressed to let the other party know that you are not on the same page. However, this does not have to sound hostile but should be conveyed in a tactful and polite manner. Utilize the following phrases below to express your disagreement while using a diplomatic tone.
- “I understand where you’re coming from, however,…”
- “I can’t quite agree with you on that.”
- “I’d have to disagree with you there.”
- “I’m afraid we have some reservations on that point…”
- “I’m afraid that doesn’t work for me.”
- “I’m afraid I had something different in mind.”
- “That’s not exactly how I look at it.”
On certain occasions, you would need to compromise during a negotiation. You have to meet your partner halfway to come up with a mutually beneficial outcome. In this case, you have to tell them what are the acceptable alternatives to you, what are you willing to trade and what are you not prepared to budge. To express your willingness to compromise, use the following phrases below.
- “We might be able to work on… if you could…”
- “We are ready to accept your offer; however, there would be one condition.”
- “Would you be willing to accept a compromise?”
- “In return for this, would you be willing to…?”
- “Could you meet us halfway?”
Part of the negotiation is talking about the conditions, transaction or price. It is normal to debate about these aspects to get the best possible deal. However, you must be firm and be able to justify offers. Some of the bargaining phrases you can use are:
- “I’m afraid we can only go as low as…”
- “From where we stand an acceptable price would be…”
- “Our absolute bottom line is…”
On occasions when you need some time to study both the opportunities and repercussions of an offer or when you need to consult or wait for the approval of someone, it is best to delay a decision. Here are some ways to express a request for a delay in decisions.
- “I have to admit that we will have to study this. May we get back to you on this point later?”
- “I’ll have to consult with my bosses back in the office.”
- “I will need to think about it more and return to you again later.”
- “I am not entitled to make decisions of that kind by myself.”
Refusing a proposal while maintaining goodwill
Not all negotiations can result in successful deals. Some do not get completed since one of the parties may be dissatisfied with the proposal or incapable of providing the requirements of the agreement. In this case, refusing a proposal must still be expressed gracefully to ensure that goodwill is still maintained. Here are some ways to express it:
- “I am afraid I can’t agree with that.”
- “With all due respect, I must kindly decline your offer.”
- “That’s not really a viable option for us.”
- “That would be very difficult for us because…”
Accepting the proposal
When the deal is good for both parties, accepting the negotiation proposal must be expressed. Some of the ways you can express your acceptance are listed below.
- “This agreement is acceptable to us.”
- “I think we have reached an agreement here.”
- “That sounds reasonable.”
- “I think we have a deal.”
- “I believe we have an agreement.”
- “I can agree to that.”
Before the negotiation ends, it is best to summarize the points that have been agreed or disagreed on. This will help to formally clarify the points and a chance to ensure that both parties are amenable to the agreements discussed and are willing to take the respective actions for it. Some of the ways to recapitulate the negotiation discussion are the following:
- “Let’s look at the points we agree on…”
- “Shall we try to sum up the main points of our discussion?”
- “Have I left anything out?”
- “I think you’ve covered everything.”
- “Let’s just confirm the details, then.”
- “This is where we currently stand…”
Regardless that the negotiation has been successful or not. It is best to close the discussion properly. Here are some ways to close the negotiation.
- “Let’s leave it this way for now.”
- “I’m willing to work with that.”
- “I think we both agree to these terms.”
- “I’m satisfied with this decision.”
- “I think we should get this in writing.”
- “Would you be willing to sign a contract right now?”
- “Let’s meet again once we’ve had some time to think.”
Once you learn these basic phrases, you will feel much more confident when communicating during a negotiation. Remember to listen and consider what others are saying to ensure that you respond correctly and use the phrases appropriately at the right time. Also, don’t forget to treat the other party with respect and prepare thoroughly to increase your chances of success.
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