62 Business English Negotiation Phrases You Need to Know to Succeed
Business people negotiate all the time.
They negotiate salaries and bonuses, details of contracts with partners, deadlines with managers and more.
There are a lot of things you can do to get the most out of an English negotiation. And knowing the right vocabulary and phrases to use is one of them.
So in this post, you’ll learn 62 business English negotiation phrases and how to use them.
- General English Negotiation Vocabulary
- English Negotiation Phrases for Setting the Agenda
- Phrases for Asking for Proposals in English
- Phrases for Making Suggestions and Proposals in English
- English Negotiation Phrases for Arguing About Proposals
- English Negotiation Phrases for Agreeing on Proposals
- English Negotiation Phrases for Disagreeing with Proposals and Giving Reasons
- Phrases for Compromising While Negotiating in English
- English Negotiation Phrases for Clarifying Points
- Phrases for Concluding a Negotiation in English
- And One More Thing...
General English Negotiation Vocabulary
When trying to get the most out of a negotiation, you may want to do some reading about the negotiation process.
For example, this easy-to-understand site walks you through the basic steps.
After reading about the negotiation process, learning what to say and when to say it is essential. You can do that by learning some essential phrases to help you out in certain turning points of negotiations.
It’s also a good idea to check some actual examples at this stage. Many videos on YouTube about holding negotiations are made for native English speakers, which make them great ways to practice.
You can even learn some things from movies about business, like the classic “Glengarry Glen Ross.”
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Here are some of the most important words that you may find useful. Look at the definitions and read the examples to understand them fully.
1. To bargain
Meaning: To discuss the conditions of an agreement (another word for “to negotiate”). You can also use this as a noun (something can be a bargain) to refer to products being sold for a really good price.
“You can’t bargain with him, he’s very inflexible.”
“This laptop was such a bargain! I paid half as much as you paid for yours and mine is much faster.”
2. Bottom line
Meaning: The most important factor.
“The bottom line is that we cannot raise both salaries and bonuses.”
Meaning: A choice that could be better than the present situation.
“Let’s consider the alternatives before deciding on the best candidate for this position.”
4. To reach consensus
Meaning: To agree on a matter that initially (at first) you disagreed upon.
“After a really long debate, they managed to reach consensus on the issue of sick leave.”
5. Counter proposal
Meaning: An alternative solution you offer when you disagree with the one already presented.
“We came with a counter proposal, but they weren’t open to negotiation.”
Meaning: A point in a discussion which takes you nowhere because people cannot reach agreement.
“We reached deadlock quite early in the discussion, because they weren’t willing to listen to our arguments and they didn’t make any counter proposals.”
7. Highball / Lowball
Meaning: To highball means to ask for a lot more than you think your partner will agree to offer you. On the contrary, when you lowball, you offer much less than you think is acceptable.
“They started the negotiation by highballing their expectations, but we saw right through it.”
“I thought my boss was going to lowball by giving me a really small raise, but he was reasonable.”
Meaning: Something that gives you power in a negotiation.
“The supermarket chain really wanted that land, but the owner didn’t give in easily. He had a lot of leverage because the position was ideal.”
For more vocabulary related to making a sale or deal, take a look at this post:
English Negotiation Phrases for Setting the Agenda
The way you start a discussion is extremely important because it sets the tone for the entire negotiation.
It is important to be diplomatic (polite) and efficient at the same time so that you can maximize your outcome.
People generally start negotiations by agreeing on the agenda. The agenda consists of all the important points that need to be discussed. You can use the following phrases to start a negotiation.
9. Let’s start by having a look at the agenda.
10. Before we begin, shall we have a look at the main points on the agenda?
11. Should we have a look at the main points for today’s discussion?
Phrases for Asking for Proposals in English
In a negotiation, it is sometimes more important to listen to what the other party has to say than to start by asking for what you want to get out of it.
Be ready to listen and take notes—your partner will appreciate your ability to listen, and you may get a lot of important information you can later use!
Ask your partner to give you details about what they want by using any of the following phrases.
12. What are your views on…?
13. Do you have any suggestions for…?
14. Would you like to suggest a course of action for…?
15. How do you feel about…?
Phrases for Making Suggestions and Proposals in English
Suggestions and proposals may be presented at any point during negotiations.
If you have a proposal to make, you can introduce it by using these phrases:
16. We think the best way is to…
17. We propose / recommend that…
18. I’d like to suggest a solution.
19. I’ve come up with what I’m sure you’ll agree is a very beneficial offer.
20. I would like you to consider our offer of…
21. I would be prepared to offer…
22. We’re in a position to offer…
23. Would you consider…?
When the negotiation reaches deadlock, someone has to come up with solutions.
It is really important to keep your mind open and also help your partner see things through different perspectives.
Both of these will help the negotiation to be effective.
English Negotiation Phrases for Arguing About Proposals
After you suggest solutions, it is crucial to support them with arguments.
If the arguments are sound and presented coherently (clearly), you stand much higher chances of getting what you want out of the negotiation.
Introduce your arguments with phrases like:
24. The most important reason for this is…
25. I am basing my solution on three ideas / points / reasons: Firstly,… Secondly,… Last but not least,…
26. One of the key reasons for this is…
English Negotiation Phrases for Agreeing on Proposals
When your partner presents an acceptable suggestion, you can express your agreement by using any of the following phrases:
27. I agree with your suggestion.
28. I think your proposal is acceptable.
29. That sounds great to us.
English Negotiation Phrases for Disagreeing with Proposals and Giving Reasons
Disagreeing is one of the most difficult things to do: You don’t want to offend your partner, but it is important to let them know when you are not on the same page.
You can disagree by using a diplomatic tone if you introduce your concerns like this:
30. I have some reservations about…
31. Unfortunately, our position is different from yours.
32. I’m afraid we can’t agree on…
Phrases for Compromising While Negotiating in English
When you simply cannot get everything you want, you will need to meet your partner halfway.
Here are some ways to express you are willing to accept some terms in exchange for others:
33. We might be able to work on…, if you could…
34. We could offer you…, if you think you can agree on…
35. Offering you… is the best we can do right now. However, we’d need your approval on…
36. In exchange for…, would you agree to…?
37. What about we give you… in exchange for…?
38. What if…?
39. How about…?
40. We can do it provided…
41. We can do it on the condition that…
42. We can do it, as long as…
43. We can’t do it unless…
English Negotiation Phrases for Clarifying Points
Whenever you feel your partner is being vague or ambiguous (imprecise or uncertain), it is extremely important to clarify things on the spot.
Otherwise, the negotiation may take the wrong direction and it may be too late to set the record straight.
So play it safe and clarify details early on by using any of these phrases:
44. Let me make sure I got your point.
45. I’m not sure I understood your position. Could you please tell me again how you feel about…?
46. I just want to make sure I got this part straight.
47. I’m not 100% sure.
48. I’m not quite sure about that.
49. Are you sure about that?
50. I’m not sure that’s the case.
51. How can you be sure?
52. I’m a little skeptical about this.
53. Do you really think so?
Phrases for Concluding a Negotiation in English
Before you end the negotiation, it is always a good idea to recap (review or go over again) the main points you agreed or disagreed on.
Here are some things you could say:
54. Let’s look at what we decided to do.
55. Shall we try to sum up the main points of our discussion?
56. Let’s sum this up really quickly to make sure we are on the same page.
57. It’s a deal.
58. We are in agreement.
59. I think we have a deal.
60. Sounds good to me.
61. That sounds reasonable.
62. This agreement is acceptable to us.
Once you learn some basic vocabulary to help you with negotiations, you will feel much more confident about getting what you want.
The more you prepare, the higher your chances of success!
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
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For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It recommends examples and videos to you based on the words you’ve already learned. You'll have a truly personalized experience.
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