Negotiating in English

You might find yourself in a negotiation situation if you have to ask for a pay rise or promotion, or to get the best possible deal from your suppliers. The ideal outcome is when you give the other party what they want, and they can also give you what you want. But sometimes, one person has to compromise and will probably try to negotiate something in return. The important thing is that both parties feel happy with the final result: a “win-win” situation.

Although some negotiations are more “important” than others, there are some useful phrases you can use at different stages of the negotiation to make your position clear and to make sure that the other party agrees with you.

Preparation for the negotiation

Be prepared! Think about your goals (as well as those of the opposing party) to make sure you are clear about what you want. What can you trade with the other party? Do you have any alternatives that are acceptable to you? If you can also work out possible solutions, then it is easier to find an acceptable outcome. Finally, you should be clear about your “bottom line”: the point at which you can offer no more. In rare cases you may even have to be prepared to walk away from the negotiation if you reach a stalemate: a position from which it is impossible to negotiate any more.

Starting and outlining your position

I’d like to begin by saying…
I’d like to outline our aims and objectives.
There are two main areas that we’d like to concentrate on / discuss.


We agree.
This is a fair suggestion.
You have a good point.
I can’t see any problem with that.
Provided / As long as you….. we will….


I’m afraid that’s not acceptable to us.
I’m afraid we can’t agree with you there.
Can I just pick you up on a point you made earlier.
I understand where you’re coming from / your position, but…
We’re prepared to compromise, but…
If you look at it from our point of view,…
As we see it…
That’s not exactly as we see it.
Is that your best offer?


Does anything I have suggested / proposed seem unclear to you?
I’d like to clarify our position.
What do you mean exactly when you say….
Could you clarify your last point for me?


Can we summarise what we’ve agreed so far?
Let’s look at the points we agree on.
So the next step is…

Language points

During a negotiation, you’re likely to hear “if” sentences, as the negotiation moves from the stage of exploring issues to the stage of making a deal.

If you increased the order size, we could / would reduce the price. (2nd conditional – exploring the issue)
So, we’ll reduce the price by 5% if you increase the order by 5%. (1st conditional – making a deal)

You might also hear “unless” (=if not), “as long as” and “provided (that)” instead of if:

As long as you increase your order, we can give you a greater discount.
Unless you increase your order, we won’t be able to give you a bigger discount.
Provided you increase your order, we can give you a bigger discount.

See our page on conditional sentences for more information.