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Business Negotiations: Kicking Off and Outlining your Position (Functional Language)

11 Jan 2022



Business Negotiations: Kicking Off and Outlining your Position


(includes lesson notes, dialogues, audio lesson + interactive exercises)



When you start of a negotiation, your aim is to:

  • Make contact and create a favourable climate
  • Make introductions
  • Summarise the main points for discussion
  • Agree how and when the main points will be discussed

Here are some useful expressions:


Starting Off


First of all let me thank you for coming.

First of all let me thank you for your time.

May I begin by saying that ...


Summarising the Main Points for Discussion


We are here to solve an important problem.

I'm sure you understand that we would like to ...

I’d just like to discuss the details of our offer.
To summarise, today we’d like to discuss…


Understanding Each Other's Positions


I wondered if you could tell us more about ...

If I understand the position correctly ...

As we see it, this is the position at the moment ...

Could you tell us ...?

How do you see our objective?

...and then there is also the question of ...


Prioritising Discussions


Before we go on, could we agree on procedure?

We should perhaps discuss the best way to proceed.

I’d like to come to that later, but first I’d to….

I'm happy to discuss that later, but before that could we...?

Perhaps we can leave this till later?

I think we'll come back to this point a little later in our discussions.

It may be better to leave this aspect aside for the time being.

Let's leave this side of the discussion till later.


Saying How Much Time You Have


Personally I have two hours (available).

Will one hour be enough for you?

If we say one hour, will it be alright?


Concluding the First Stage


I am very keen to find a solution but I have already made an important concession.

I’m sure we can reach an agreement that is satisfactory to both sides.

I feel sure that you share our desire to find a solution / compromise to this problem.


Taking a Break


May I suggest we have a break at about 4 pm?

Shall we take a break now for lunch?

Shall we continue our discussions after lunch?

I suggest we arrange another time to meet so we can continue our discussions.

Why don't we have a short break now and continue later?



The next stage of the negotiating process is the consultation. During this stage, both sides:

  • Present their respective positions.
  • Ask questions to clarify each other’s position.
  • Identify the real source or cause of the problems.
  • Find out what is really at stake and the objectives of the other party.

Exploring possibilities


I would like to explore a number of options with you.

I think there are a number of possibilities.

I hope we can find some common ground.


Probing and Clarifying Each Other’s Position


Could you tell us more about...

Could you give us some more details about …?

How would you feel if I suggested..?

Wouldn't it be possible to...?

Can you suggest a compromise?

Can you clarify your position?

Why do you especially want...?

Does this mean...?

Have you got an example of this?

Could I ask how you got the information?

Are you sure?

I can’t see how your position ties up with...

Before we discuss this point I’d like to be sure about your position on...

Can I just check a point you made earlier?

Are you sure that that is the only way?

I am sure that you could ... instead

An alternative would be to...

Wouldn’t it be possible for you to...?

I take it that you have no objection to my checking your information?

Can I just summarize our positions as I see them?

Isn't your present supplier...?

How does our offer / quote / bid compare with the others you’ve received?


Include One Idea Per Sentence

Plain vs Confused Language

Developing an Argument in Speech: Linking Words and Phrases

Analysis of Business Writing 4

Complimenting Someone at Work

7 Problem Business Phrases in Writing

Socialising Skills: Home Entertaining

Becoming a Better Language Learner

Giving Advice and Making Suggestions: Varying the Level of Formality

Welcoming Visitors: Using Open and Closed Questions

Language Considerations When Handling Complaints

Business Presentations: Functional Language Reference Sheet

Giving a Speech in English

Usage Tips for Linking Words and Phrases

Six Step Strategy for Customer Service

Using Time Sequences when Describing Graphs

How to Express Empathy at Work

Report Writing: Tentative Conclusions

Replacing “if”, Omitting “if”, “if” vs “when”, “if" vs “in case”