Do you know how to get the best deal when working with business partners and customers? Are you trying hard to get the best price from your vendors? In this lesson, you will learn some of the top negotiating skills needed while using Business English.


Vocabulary – Expressions – Phrasal Verbs – Idioms:

Negotiation – A process where one or more parties communicate their business needs and desires in order to find out if they can create a business relationship or deal.

Deal – The deal is the outcome of the negotiation.

Bottom line – This has two meanings. Firstly, the bottom line is the profit on the deal – for example, “This will add to the bottom line”. It is also used to mean the ultimate position, as in “The bottom line is, my company can only accept this deal on the terms we stated.”

Win-win – Win-win is a situation in which all parties benefit.

Terms and conditions – The (usually legal) rules under which a business deal will operate.

Good cop bad cop – Derived from police (cop) interviewing techniques, this is where a two-person team agrees that one will be tough and ruthless, the other softer and more conciliatory. It is a negotiating strategy.

Breakdown – A breakdown of negotiations happens when parties cannot agree. It is not necessarily final, parties may go back to consult other members of their organization.

Proposal – A suggestion for the terms of the agreement.

Agreement – The agreement defines what the parties have each agreed to do and provide.

Give and take – An attitude of compromise, in which each party concedes something in order to gain something.

Walkaway – The position which, if that is the best you can achieve, will cause you to walk away from the deal, as it is not what your company wants or needs.

Counterproposal – A response to a proposal which is on the table.

On the table – A proposal which is being openly discussed.
Negotiating Live Example

Live Example:

The negotiation was led by Ben and Mark for their respective organizations. Ben was joined by Maggie, in case they decided that they needed to use good cop bad cop tactics. Ben put his proposal on the table, and Mark made a counter proposal. The counter-proposal did not fulfill the needs of Ben’s company. The deal would have a big impact on the bottom line of each company, but Ben was looking for more of a win-win situation for his company. The terms and conditions, in particular, weren’t acceptable to Ben, but Mark was prepared to offer some give and take. As Ben was far from a walk away position, there was no breakdown in negotiations, and after more discussion, they were able to finally reach an agreement, and achieve a good deal for both parties.

Negotiating Live Conversation Example

Live Conversation Example:

Ben: Here’s the proposal that I’d like to put on the table today.

Mark: These terms and conditions don’t suit my company – we would like to make a counter-proposal.

Ben: We can’t agree to this proposal. The bottom line is that we need a little more give and take than you are offering.

Mark: If this negotiation is going to be fruitful, we need to find a deal that offers a win-win situation. How about we make these changes that I’ve highlighted in the document here?

Ben: I think this proposal will be good for the bottom line of both companies, but it still needs some more changes. We can make it even more of a win-win.

Mark: Let’s negotiate some more – because we’re not at our walk away point yet! We don’t want the negotiations to break down now.

Negotiating Practice


Always go into a negotiation having done your homework on the strengths and weaknesses of the other party or parties.

If you are nervous about negotiating, role plays with a colleague beforehand.

It’s always a good idea to put the first offer on the table – research shows that this usually ends in a better outcome for the person who proposes first.

Make sure that you have authority to make an agreement – or know the next step to take if you don’t have that authority.

Be prepared to make counter offers.

Always leave plenty of time to arrive at your negotiation meeting, so that you don’t feel rushed or flustered.

What kind of information about your company – and the other company – should you have at your fingertips before negotiating?

Why do some people find it hard to ask for what they need in a negotiation?

How can colleagues work together as a team during a negotiation?

What do you do if a previously unknown, yet significant, issue arises?

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