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Top Tips for Business English
Teaching negotiations skills
Negotiations Basics
Activities  Teacher's notes

Top Tips for Business English
Teaching negotiations skills
by Rosemary Richey

Teacher's notes

> Main article
> Activities

Aim of activities and language level

Teachers have the opportunity to encourage students to use the Macmillan English Dictionary (MED) for lexis relating to negotiations. Students can expand vocabulary and become familiar with typical phrases used in a negotiation context.
The activities provide practical language for upper intermediate to advanced levels. It is suitable for one to one lessons or groups.

Time and materials

The overall timing for the activities should be about 50 minutes. This will depend on the size of the class, and if it is set up as pair or group work, or as a one to one practice. Students need access to the Macmillan English Dictionary (MED). Teachers will need at least a flipchart and whiteboard and ideally an OHP/OHTs.


Activities 1 and 2

1 Preview the topic of negotiations with a 5 minute discussion with the students to find out if they regularly participate in negotiations either in their own language or in English. Find out if their negotiations involve local or international colleagues or clients.
2 Briefly go through the introduction and then have students in pairs or groups complete activities 1 and 2.
3 Review the answers by each pair or group contributing their findings.
4 Display the possible answers on the OHP or give as handouts.

Example answers for activity 2

a trying to find out the truth about something
b to look for and find
c to guess that something will happen, and be ready to deal with it
d something that you choose instead of something else
e to hurry
f to make someone wait in order to gain more time
g to interpret
h a person or group involved in the negotiations
i to stop trying to win an argument
j to solve a problem by accepting that you cannot have everything you want
k the conditions of an agreement
l willing to accept a suggestion

Activity 3

1 Students do the activity individually and then compare answers with a partner. Encourage them to check their answers in the dictionary.
2 Go over the answers with the students as a final check, and write the correct answers on a flipchart.


a finding a common ground e manoeuvring
b counter-offer f be on your guard
c ballpark figure g to bargain
d deadlock    


1 If time allows in class or as homework, have students explore the meanings of the following words in the dictionary: to read, to rush, party. Get students to look at the common collocations formed with compromise:
reach/arrive at/come to/make a compromise
compromise between
a compromise agreement
2 From the basic negotiation vocabulary presented in the activities, have students make a table of synonyms or antonyms.
3 Discuss what alternatives students can offer in a negotiation from their own business context.
4 Elicit discussion on why compromise is key to successful negotiations. On the other hand, have student describe the consequence of a deadlock or stalemate.
5 Give students in pairs a chance to discuss their reaction to these questions:
Are good negotiators born with the talent or can they acquire it?
Can anyone learn to be a negotiator? Why or why not?

Hints and tips

1 Review the answers yourself in MED with both the CD-ROM and the dictionary.
2 Practise with as many authentic examples from students' work situation as necessary for them to understand the basic language used in the context of business negotiations.