MED Magazine - Issue 26 - January 2005
Top Tips for Business English
Teaching negotiations skills
by Rosemary Richey
This month's Top Tips feature negotiations a key
communication skill for Business English students. At any level or stage
of business, they will need to negotiate with their managers, colleagues
or customers. Effective negotiation yields the ultimate reward in terms
of the best deal for contracts, salaries and other business transactions
The language and skills featured here are appropriate
for upper intermediate and advanced levels.
|Review the overall steps of negotiations
with the students. Assign pairs one step each and ask them to come
up with two important points about it.
||proposing the agenda
||setting and clarifying
||dealing with conflict
||closing and agreeing
|Invite students to share their ideas
with the whole class. This will give them a basis for considering
the impact of communication skills combined with the right language
Language and skill components
Successful negotiations rely on the appropriate and correct
language and skill. The following list names key functions and useful
language for basic negotiations.
A Basic negotiations
||I wondered if I could start by mentioning/saying
We've got a busy agenda ahead of us, so why don't we start up?
If you don't mind, let's get started/down
|proposing the agenda
||As we see it, the main objective of our meeting
We're looking to accomplish/achieve ...
We've come up with/drawn up an agenda.
There are/We've got four/five items on the agenda.
We'd like to go over ... first/then ... last.
|setting and clarifying positions
||... will give a presentation/a brief outline of
... is going to take notes/minutes.
... would like to say a few words about ...
Please feel free to interrupt/to ask questions.
If anything is unclear, please ask me.
Do we agree to discuss ...?
If we understand you correctly, you're interested in/you'd
like (to) ...
|dealing with conflict
||We're afraid that ...
Perhaps we could ... instead of ...
Maybe we could consider ...
That sounds a bit/little risky.
||We propose/suggest/advise ...
I think we should ...
Why don't we ...?
How about/What about ...?
||If you are unable/can't ... we'll have
to look/go elsewhere.
We're prepared to offer you ...
We could consider ...
... as long as ...
... on one condition ...
... provided that ...
... unless you ...
|closing and agreeing
||Let's recap on our main points.
We've agreed to the following ...
We still have some outstanding issues such as ...
Do you agree with our summary?
Is there anything you'd like to add?
B General language points
makes full use of sequencing and linking. In preparing and discussing
agendas, students practise starting out (Our main objective is ...)
and going through the whole procedure (There are five items ... first(ly),
second(ly), then, furthermore, moreover, lastly, finally).
The conditional forms
are the cornerstone of negotiations. For proposals, offers and bargaining,
the first and second conditionals are frequently used (If you accept
the price, we will ... If you gave us a deposit for the order, we could/would
In making proposals
and suggestions students will rely on the use of polite forms such as
We would ... Would you mind if ... Could we ... May we ...?
Teaching ideas and resources
Try the following tips when preparing and practising negotiations
with your students:
||To start off a discussion and practice of negotiations,
have students brainstorm about everyday negotiating that goes on in
their personal and professional lives. Make up a class list with students
contributing one or two ideas. Elicit what makes their own negotiations
||Find a topic for negotiations from the latest business
news. Assign roles to the students in teams of 3-4 and get them to
discuss every aspect of the issue. Let the students practise in one
class meeting and then allow two full class periods to complete the
entire negotiation. Have them do peer observation and give feedback
on the different stages and the language used.
||Videotaping any negotiation provides a good opportunity
for students to assess their strengths and weaknesses.
||Have students find information on the Internet about
professional negotiators in law, business or politics. From their
findings, compile in class a list of sectors and jobs that rely on
negotiations. Discuss what makes a good negotiator.
More in this issue
You'll find the following related material in this issue:
Next in the series
The next issue of MED Magazine
will include some useful tips on socializing.
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