Vocabulary for Negotiations and Bargaining

Negotiations and bargaining are often stressful. Whether it's negotiating a contract; pay rise; salary; or a sale, the stakes are usually high, with neither party wishing to concede too much. We base successful negotiation on the perceived value of what either party can gain or lose. Often the tendency is for one side to highball or lowball a figure or amount, to anchor the price point up for discussion. Once an anchor point - however realistic - is established, the perceived gain or loss can be calculated. We fear losses more than we appreciate gains, so it is important when negotiating to trade concessions rather than offering them straight off the bat.

Begin your bargaining by asking the other person what they think. Communication and relationships are important when concession-trading, and if the other person feels you are listening to them, you can increase the chance of getting off on the right foot. Some expressions you can use are:

What are your views on...?

How much value does your business put on...?

How much is... worth to you?

Do you have a strategy in mind for...?

Most businesses say ... is worth ... to their business. Wouldn't you agree?

How do you feel about...?


Making Suggestions

Once you have a starting off point, you have a position to argue from:

I would recommend the following...

I can offer you a solution as follows...

I feel the best way forward is...

What I would do if I were you is...

In the past, the following strategy has been the biggest success...


Using 'If' and Conditionals

Conditional and if-clauses are really useful when it comes to making concessions and negotiating. Remember, you don't want to give anything away for free!

If you can increase the order by 20%, I could offer you a 5% discount.

If I could offer you a discount of 7%, could you increase the order by 100 units?

If we offer you exclusivity on this, could you increase the order by 15%?

If you can guarantee 10 hours of work per week, I can reduce the fee slightly.

We might be able to do something on ... if you could ...


Making Offers

It's very unlikely that you will come away from any negotiation without making any concessions, so here are some expressions to help you make offers:

Perhaps you would consider...

I could adjust...

I could... in exchange for...

Offering... is the best I can do at the moment.

The best I can do is...

My final offer is...


Supporting your Position

Any time you're arguing a position, you need to have concrete facts and evidence to support your claims. Here are some ways of introducing them:

The reason I say this is...

I'm basing my recommendation on the following points...

This is due to three reasons...

It's because of these ideas that I suggest this strategy...

The following figures support my suggestion...

The figures speak for themselves.


Accepting and Rejecting

Coming to an agreement or reaching a consensus means you have successfully completed your negotiation. Sometimes you might find yourself in a deadlock situation where it is impossible to reach an agreement. In these situations, you might have to reject the offer and move on or reconvene:

That sounds like an acceptable proposal.

I'm happy with that suggestion.

I think we can both agree that we've reached a middle ground here.

That sounds like a great idea.

I'm happy to accept your proposal.

I have some reservations.

I'm not confident that we're seeing eye to eye.

I'm afraid we can't seem to agree.

It looks like we’ve come to a bit of a standstill.

Maybe we should revisit this at a later date.


Having the confidence to stand your ground and debate with authority will put you in a strong position in any negotiation. Revising these expressions so you are confident in the boardroom or at the table will help you.

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