Learn useful idioms for business negotiations in English with meaning and examples.
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Agreement In Principle
- Meaning: In a negotiation, an agreement in which not all details have been worked out
- Example: I think we have an agreement in principle. Our staff can work out all the details.
An Offer One Can’t Refuse
- Meaning: An extremely attractive offer
- Example: The university made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: a $4,000-a-year raise and a reduction in my class load.
Back And Forth
- Meaning: Dialogue, negotiations
- Example: We went in with a strong position, but after the back and forth we were left with a proposal that won’t let us make a profit.
Come to Terms With (Something)
- Meaning: Feel acceptance toward something bad that has happened
- Example: I’ve come to terms with the fact that Maria was promoted ahead of me. She’s done a good job.
Draw a Line in the Sand
- Meaning: Issue an ultimatum; specify an absolute limit in a conflict
- Example: The president drew a line in the sand, threatening war if the neighboring country did not reduce troop levels.
Drive a Hard Bargain
- Meaning: To negotiate effectively
- Example: At first I wasn’t ready to accept your offer for the house. But you drive a hard bargain.
Drive a Wedge Between
- Meaning: Try to split factions of a united group by introducing an issue on which they disagree
- Example: He’s trying to drive a wedge between us by bringing up religion, but we’ve always accepted that we can have separate faiths and still be married.
Useful idioms for business negotiations in English
Give and Take
- Meaning: Negotiations, the process of compromise
- Example: Most people thought government workers would go on strike, but after a good deal of give and take, negotiators announced an agreement including a hike in wages and increased vacation time.
Stand One’s Ground
- Meaning: Refuse to back down; insist on one’s position
- Example: The company is threatening to lock the doors if we don’t agree to pay cuts, but I think we should stand our ground.
Sweeten the Deal
- Meaning: Add something to an offer during a negotiation
- Example: What if we sweeten the deal? It would be good to end the strike before the holidays.
- Meaning: A very favorable arrangement given because of friendship or close connections
- Example: We got a sweetheart deal on the road contract because my uncle works for the highway department.
- Meaning: A test of someone’s or the public’s reaction
- Example: The leaks of the new peace proposal were intentional. They were a trial balloon, meant to see whether the warring groups would be open to negotiations.