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Nimble1 Negotiations

Business English Magazin - epaper ⋅ Ausgabe 1/2020 vom 29.11.2019

Making deals is the bread and butter2 of business. How are you at negotiating to get exactly what you want? If you find yourself at an impasse3 , study up4 with BEM’sJonathan Sidor to learn how to constantly find common ground5 with your partners.

1 nimble ˈnɪmblgeschickt, wendig, flink
2 sb’s bread and butter ˈsʌmbədɪz bred ənd ˈbʌtə(r)jds. Lebensunterhalt/Brotverdienst
3 impasse ˈɪmpæsSackgasse, Hängepartie, ausweglose Situation
4 to study up tə ˈstʌdi ʌppauken
5 common ground ˈkɒmən ɡraʊndGemeinsamkeit, gemeinsamer Nenner

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When many folks6 hear that they’ll need to ...7 or some other factor in their professional life, they cower in fear ...

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When many folks6 hear that they’ll need to negotiate a pay rise7 or some other factor in their professional life, they cower in fear8 . Negotiating may feel like a daunting9 process. Fortunately, knowing just the ABC of10 bargaining11 can get you further than you may think.

Here are the top techniques12 any novice13 can master.


Priming14 and Preparing

Running into a negotiation head first15 is a rookie mistake16 . Even the pros know to do the appropriate groundwork17 beforehand18 to make sure that they don’t overlook19 any obvious facts. Know your goals, your counterpart’s20 aims, your strengths and your weaknesses21 . Consulting an expert at this stage22 is common too. Specifically, work out23 an initial bargaining position. What are your main objectives and priorities? If these can’t be met, what is your fallback24 position? Would you rather be on your own ground or on their turf25 ? Now, different workplaces, cultures and individuals have varying26 negotiating styles that they like to employ27 . Norms regarding28 etiquette29 are wide-ranging30 as well. Read up on31 these to minimize your chances of committing32 any faux pas33 right off the bat34 .

Next, envision35 how the negotiation will move forward36 . After the opening handshakes37 and introductions, it’s a good idea to initiate some small talk and create a relaxed atmosphere. Once you’re ready to get down to brass tacks38 , make sure you have a clear agenda39 that you’d like to follow. Review40 all of the background41 information so that everyone is on the same page42 when it comes to43 the key facts and figures. When it’s time to kick off44 the actual negotiations, remember to make your own priorities known while trying to elucidate45 the other side’s needs as well.

Embracing46 Compromise

If you want to negotiate successfully, you’ve got to be willing to bend47 . Expect to make concessions48 . There is an ebb and flow49 to negotiation and it requires give and take50 , so don’t expect your first offer to be welcomed51 universally52 . Vice versa53 , don’t automatically accept the first offer that you receive. Your partners have likely anticipated54 compromise too, so you never know what else you’ll be able to get.

Probing55 is an excellent tactic to deepen56 a negotiation and find out precisely what you can get. This is the process of asking well-crafted57 questions that can lead to some pretty telling58 answers. Ask questions like:

• “What quantities59 are you looking for?”
• “What did you have in mind60 regarding delivery dates?”
• “How important are discounts61 for you?”

Understand that trade-offs62 are a natural part of bargaining. You might not get the perfect deal, but you can still aim for win-win63 solutions. In certain cultures, haggling64 is even seen as an essential65 part of negotiating. At the very least, be willing to make a goodwill gesture66 . The other side ought to see the affability67 in your action and reciprocate68 with some goodwill of their own.

The key to a fruitful69 negotiation is the ability to make proposals70 and counter-offers71 .

This is how the two sides can walk away from72 the table with an agreement. In English, this typically means comfortably communicating using conditional73 statements. Treat the following examples as a guide:

“If you offer more generous74 payments, then we will be able to consider providing additional technical support75 .”

45 to elucidate sth tu ɪˈluːsɪdeɪt ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. aufklären, erklären, erläutern
46 to embrace sth tu ɪmˈbreɪs ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. akzeptieren, annehmen
47 to bend tə bendbiegen, beugen, nachgeben
48 to make concessions tə ˈmeɪk kənˈseʃnzZugeständnisse machen
49 ebb and flow eb ənd fləʊEbbe und Flut, Höhen und Tiefen
50 give and take gɪv ǝnd teɪkGeben und Nehmen
51 to welcome sth tə ˈwelkəm ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. willkommen heißen, begrüßen
52 universally ˌjuːnɪˈvɜːsəliallgemein, durchgängig, überall
53 vice versa vaɪs ˈvɜːsəumgekehrt, vice versa
54 to anticipate sth tu ænˈtɪsɪpeɪt ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. voraussehen, erwarten, antizipieren
55 probing ˈprəʊbɪŋSondierung
56 to deepen sth tə ˈdiːpən ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. vertiefen
57 well-crafted wel krɑːftɪdgut gemacht/ vorbereitet/gefertigt
58 telling ˈtelɪŋaufschlussreich, vielsagend
59 quantity ˈkwɒntɪtiMenge
60 to have sth in mind tə həv ˈsʌmθɪŋ ɪn maɪndetw. im Sinn/Auge haben
61 discount ˈdɪskaʊntRabatt, Preisnachlass
62 trade-off treɪd ɒfKompromiss, Zugeständnis
63 win-win wɪn wɪnWin-win(-Geschäft/- Situation)
64 to haggle tə ˈhæɡlhandeln, feilschen
65 essential ɪˈsenʃlwesentlich, notwendig
66 a goodwill gesture ə ˌɡʊdˈwɪl ˈdʒestʃə(r)Geste guten Willens
67 affability ˌæfəˈbɪlətiFreundlichkeit, Umgänglichkeit
68 to reciprocate tə rɪˈsɪprəkeɪtvergelten, sich erkenntlich zeigen, sich revanchieren
69 fruitful ˈfruːtflfruchtbar, ergiebig
70 proposal prəˈpəʊzlVorschlag
71 counter-offer ˈkaʊntə(r) ˈɒfə(r)Gegenvorschlag
72 to walk away from sth tə wɔːk əˈweɪ frəm ˈsʌmθɪŋvon etw. weggehen, fortgehen
73 conditional kənˈdɪʃnəlbedingt, vorbehaltlich
74 generous ˈdʒenərəsgroßzügig
75 technical support ˈteknɪkl səˈpɔːttechnische Unterstützung

“Supposing that performance76 improves by 10 percent, then we may agree to your demands77 .”

“As long as you deliver on time, then we could offer a long-term deal.”

Weather the Storm78

Certain negotiators want to play hardball79 and often refuse to80 budge81 . Rather than give up82 , there are a few tools at your disposal83 that can soften up84 the toughest talkers. First, you need to know what to look out for85 . If someone issues a final offer or ultimatum, you’ve got a hard nut to crack86 on your hands87 . They could say their terms88 are non-negotiable89 . They may be pushing you to back down90 and give in91 . When someone drives a hard bargain92 , it frequently gives negotiations a more confrontational93 character.

In other situations, discussions can simply break down94 with no person at fault95 . Your top priorities and those of the other side seem incompatible96 . If you aren’t careful, minor disagreements97 can easily morph into98 detrimental99 deadlock100 . Just because you experience a temporary101 setback102 or stalemate103 , don’t go on thinking that104 you and the other side have got irreconcilable105 differences.

76 performance pəˈfɔːmənsLeistung
77 demand dɪˈmɑːndForderung
78 to weather the storm tə ˈweðə(r) ðə stɔːmeine Sache überstehen
79 to play hardball tə ˈpleɪ ˈhɑːdbɔːlmit harten Bandagen kämpfen
80 to refuse to do sth tə rɪˈfjuːz tə du ˈsʌmθɪŋes ablehnen, etw. zu tun
81 to budge tə bʌdʒnachgeben
82 to give up tə ɡɪv ʌpaufgeben
83 at sb’s disposal ət ˈsʌmbədiz dɪˈspəʊzlzu jds. Verfügung/Disposition
84 to soften sb up tə ˈsɒfn ˈsʌmbədi ʌpjdn. erweichen, weich kriegen
85 what to look out for… ˈwɒt tə lʊk ˈaʊt fɔː(r)wonach man Ausschau halten sollte …
86 a hard nut to crack ə hɑːd nʌt tə krækeine harte Nuss (zu knacken)
87 to have sth on one’s hands tə həv ˈsʌmθɪŋ ɒn wʌnz hændzetw. am Hals/an der Backe haben
88 terms tɜːmzBedingungen, Konditionen
89 non-negotiable nɒn nɪˈɡəʊʃɪəblnicht verhandelbar
90 to back down tə bæk daʊneinlenken, einen Rückzieher machen
91 to give in tə ɡɪv ɪnnachgeben, sich fügen
92 to drive a hard bargain tə draɪv ə hɑːd ˈbɑːɡɪnhart verhandeln
93 confrontational ˌkɒnfrʌnˈteɪʃnlstreitlustig, konfrontativ
94 to break down tə breɪk daʊnabbrechen, scheitern
95 at fault ət fɔːltverantwortlich, schuldig


Types of negotiations
• Wage negotiations
• Customer-supplier negotiations
• Merger1 negotiations
• Trade negotiations
• Contract dispute2
• Labour3 dispute
Word combinations with “negotiation”
• Intensive negotiations
• Tense4 negotiations
• Eleventh-hour5 negotiations
• Protracted6 negotiations
Word combinations with “bargaining”
• Bargaining ploy7
• Bargaining chip8
• Bargaining power9
• Bargaining process
Types of contracts
• Employment contract
• Labour contract
• Oral/verbal contract
• Binding10 contract
• Commercial contract

1 merger ˈmɜːdʒə(r)Fusion, Fusionierung
2 dispute dɪˈspjuːtStreit, Debatte
3 labour ˈleɪbə(r)Mitarbeiter, Arbeiterschaft
4 tense tensangespannt, nervös
5 eleventh-hour ɪˈlevnθ ˈaʊə(r)im letzten Moment, in letzter Sekunde
6 protracted prəˈtræktɪdlangwierig, langgezogen
7 ploy plɔɪTrick, List
8 bargaining chip ˈbɑːɡɪnɪŋ tʃɪpDruckmittel, Trumpfkarte (bei Verhandlungen)
9 bargaining power ˈbɑːɡɪnɪŋ ˈpaʊə(r)Verhandlungsstärke, Verhandlungsposition
10 binding ˈbaɪndɪŋbindend, verpflichtend

So how can you work with someone when negotiations hit a roadblock106 ? To get the ball rolling107 , identify the exact sticking points108 that are causing you headaches109 . Emphasize110 the common ground you and your counterparties111 have. Agreement in some areas has probably already been met. Reassure112 others that you haven’t changed your mind on these points, to highlight your commitment113 . In addition, use time to your advantage114 . If need be115 , postpone116 your talks to a later time, so that both parties can reconsider their positions.

Once agreement has been met, it’s just as critical to go over the major points. This will prevent misunderstandings117 and help clear up118 any lingering119 uncertainty120 in the room. Say things like:

• “Let me just run over121 the main points.”
• “As far as issue A is concerned122 , we’re in agreement that the new system will be introduced in March.”
• “We still have the question of B to settle123 at our next meeting.”
• “And then there’s the outstanding124 issue of C that we mustn’t forget about.”
• “I’ll draw up a contract125 based on all of these items and get it to you as soon as possible.”

Manage Your Ego

Even though you’re looking to score a victory126 when you negotiate, that doesn’t mean that you need to emerge from every discussion as a star. If the other side wants to take credit for127 a decision or agreement, temper128 your ego and let them have their way129 . As long as you get what you wanted, go ahead and let others think that your final deal was all their idea.

Likewise130 , negotiations are a time when you’ll need to swallow humble pie131 . Missing out132 on some basic details that everyone else seems to know? You’ll need to ask a question or two to guarantee you don’t fall out of the loop133 . Superb134 clarifying135 questions include:

• Can you run that by136 me again?
• I’m not sure I follow137 you. Do you mean that…?
• Could you elaborate138 ?
• Just to double-check139


96 incompatible ˌɪnkəmˈpætəblunvereinbar, inkompatibel
97 disagreement ˌdɪsəˈɡriːməntMeinungsverschiedenheit, Dissens
98 to morph into sth tə mɔːf ˈɪntə ˈsʌmθɪŋ(sich) in etw. verwandeln
99 detrimental ˌdetrɪˈmentlschädlich, nachteilig
100 deadlock ˈdedlɒkSackgasse, Patt
101 temporary ˈtemprərivorübergehend
102 setback ˈsetbækRückschlag, Schlappe
103 stalemate ˈsteɪlmeɪtPattsituation, Sackgasse
104 don’t go (on) thinking that… dəʊnt ɡəʊ ɒn ˈθɪŋkɪŋ ðætDenken Sie nicht, dass …
105 irreconcilable ɪˌrekənˈsaɪləblunvereinbar, unlösbar
106 to hit a roadblock tə hɪt ə ˈrəʊdblɒkeinen toten Punkt erreichen, zum Stillstand kommen
107 to get the ball rolling tə ɡet ðə bɔːl ˈrəʊlɪŋden Ball ins Rollen bringen, die Sache in Gang bringen
108 sticking point ˈstɪkɪŋ pɔɪntKnackpunkt
109 headache ˈhedeɪkKopfschmerzen, Sorge
110 to emphasize sth tu ˈemfəsaɪz ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. deutlich machen, herausstellen
111 counterparty ˈkaʊntərˌpɑːtiGegenpartei
112 to reassure sb tə ˌriːəˈʃʊə(r) ˈsʌmbədijdn. beruhigen, jdm. versichern
113 commitment kəˈmɪtməntEngagement, Zusage
114 to use sth to one’s advantage tə juːz ˈsʌmθɪŋ tə wʌnz ədˈvɑːntɪdʒetw. zu seinem Vorteil nutzen
115 if need be,… ɪf niːd biwenn nötig/notfalls, wenn es sein muss,…
116 to postpone sth tə pəˈspəʊn ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. zurückstellen, verschieben, vertagen
117 misunderstanding ˌmɪsʌndəˈstændɪŋMissverständnis
118 to clear sth up tə klɪə(r) ˈsʌmθɪŋ ʌpetw. klären, aufklären, ausräumen
119 lingering ˈlɪŋɡərɪŋzurückbleibend, schwelend
120 uncertainty ʌnˈsɜːtntiUnsicherheit, Ungewissheit
121 to run over sth tə rʌn ˈəʊvə(r) ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. durchsehen, durchgehen
122 as far as X is concerned… əz ˈfɑː(r) əz ɪz kənˈsɜːndwas X betrifft/wenn es um X geht, …
123 to settle sth tə ˈsetl ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. miteinander abstimmen, etw. regeln
124 outstanding aʊtˈstændɪŋausstehend, offen
125 to draw up a contract tə drɔː ʌp ə ˈkɒntrækteinen Vertrag aufsetzen/entwerfen
126 to score a victory tə skɔː(r) ə ˈvɪktərieinen Sieg erringen/einfahren
127 to take credit for sth tə teɪk ˈkredɪt fə(r) ˈsʌmθɪŋsich etw. als Verdienst anrechnen
128 to temper sth tə ˈtempə(r) ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. mäßigen, dämpfen, zügeln
129 to let sb have one’s way tə let ˈsʌmbədi həv wʌnz ˈweɪjdm. erlauben, seinen Kopf durchzusetzen
130 likewise ˈlaɪkwaɪzgleichermaßen, ähnlich, ebenso
131 to swallow humble pie tə ˈswɒləʊ ˈhʌmbl paɪkleine Brötchen backen, Abbitte leisten
132 to miss out on sth tə mɪs aʊt ɒn ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. versäumen, verpassen
133 to fall out of the loop tə fɔːl ˈaʊt əv ðə luːpeine Entwicklung verschlafen
134 superb suːˈpɜːbhervorragend, großartig
135 clarifying ˈklærɪfaɪɪŋabklärend, Klärung
136 to run sth by sb tə rʌn ˈsʌmθɪŋ baɪ ˈsʌmbədietw. mit jdm. kurz besprechen
137 to follow sb tə ˈfɒləʊ ˈsʌmbədijdm. folgen, jdn. verstehen
138 to elaborate tu ɪˈlæbəreɪtausarbeiten, genau darlegen, näher ausführen
139 to double-check tə ˌdʌbl ˈtʃekgenau nachprüfen, gegenprüfen

On the other hand, you also have to come in with a keen understanding of140 your self-worth141 . How much are you worth, and how low are you willing to go? You have to live with the final outcome142 , so don’t make promises you aren’t comfortable keeping. In some cases, this means knowing when to say “no.” Some useful statements are as follows:

• That isn’t a viable143 option.
• I’m afraid I can’t agree to this.
• I’ll need to think it over144 , and I’ll get back to you.
• That’s unacceptable/ out of the question145 .

Deft146 Deal-Making

Negotiation may sound big and bad, but there isn’t any magic behind it. Some common-sense147 guidelines148 can make a novice negotiator a brilliant bargainer in no time149 . Negotiating is one of those soft skills that so many practitioners150 struggle with151 . It really boils down to152 your communication abilities. Knowing what to say and when to say it are half the battle153 . Do your background research, keep what you’re after in your mind, and exude154 confidence155 throughout your interaction. Before you know it, you’ll be nailing156 deals like the best of them. d

140 keen understanding of sth kiːn ˌʌndəˈstændɪŋ əv ˈsʌmθɪŋscharfes/gutes Verständnis von etw.
141 self-worth self wɜːθSelbstwert(gefühl)
142 outcome ˈaʊtkʌmErgebnis, Ausgang, Resultat
143 viable ˈvaɪəblrealisierbar, machbar, rentabel
144 to think sth over tə θɪŋk ˈsʌmθɪŋ ˈəʊvə(r)etw. überdenken
145 out of the question ˈaʊt əv ðə ˈkwestʃənindiskutabel, ausgeschlossen
146 deft deftgeschickt, gewandt
147 common-sense ˌkɒmən ˈsensgesunder Menschenverstand, vernünftig
148 guideline ˈɡaɪdlaɪnRichtlinie
149 in no time ɪn nəʊ ˈtaɪmin null Komma nichts
150 practitioner prækˈtɪʃənə(r)Fachmann, Praktiker
151 to struggle with sth tə ˈstrʌɡl wɪð ˈsʌmθɪŋsich mit etw. abmühen, mit etw. zu kämpfen haben
152 to boil down to sth tə bɔɪl daʊn tə ˈsʌmθɪŋauf etw. hinauslaufen
153 sth is half the battle ˈsʌmθɪŋ ɪz hɑːf ðə ˈbætletw. ist schon die halbe Miete
154 to exude sth tu ɪɡˈzjuːd ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. ausstrahlen, verströmen
155 confidence ˈkɒnfɪdənsSelbstvertrauen, Zuversicht
156 to nail sth tə neɪl ˈsʌmθɪŋetw. (perfekt) schaffen