English at work: Negotiating
In this week's Premier Skills English Podcast, we go back to Rich's football-themed cafe. He's decided that he needs to do some advertising and wants to hire an airship to fly above his cafe. The problem is that this is very expensive and he will have to negotiate a good price. The language focus is on adjectives to describe different negotiating styles and phrases connected to three important negotiating skills. In this week's task, we want you to decide who is the best negotiator: Jack, Rowan or Rich? Don't forget to listen to the end of the podcast because we have a new football phrase for you to guess.
English at work: Negotiating
Jack: Hello my name’s Jack
Rowan: My name’s Rowan
Rich: and I’m Rich
Rowan: And welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast.
Jack: In the Premier Skills English podcast, we talk about football and help you with your English.
Rowan: Don’t forget you can find the transcript for all our podcasts on the Premier Skills English website.
Rich: In this week’s roleplay, we’re going back to my muffin business.
Rowan: I’m sure you all remember that Rich has opened a muffin cafe ... a cafe that specialises in muffins.
Rich: They’re not just muffins.
Jack: No, they’re not only muffins. They’re Liverpool player muffins because it’s a Liverpool FC themed cafe.
Rowan: That’s right. I remember now. The last time we visited you were having a few problems with staff.
Rich: Yes, they were arguing about who should get the tips that the customers leave. I had to improve my conflict management skills quickly.
Jack: Everything OK now?
Rich: Yes, everyone is getting on really well.
Rowan: In this week’s episode Rich is planning extra publicity for his cafe. He wants to do some marketing.
Rich: But advertising companies charge a lot of money and I need to negotiate the best deal. I need to decide who is the best negotiator on my team.
Jack: And that’s what you’ll hear in this week’s roleplay - Rich deciding who is the best person to negotiate a deal for his business.
Rowan: This week’s language focus is connected to negotiating skills. We’ll look at adjectives to describe negotiating styles.
Rich: Some people might be quite argumentative or confrontational while others are calmer and more diplomatic.
Jack: We’ll also look at three key skills when negotiating: signalling, checking understanding, and summarising. We’ll look at some phrases you use to do these three things.
Rowan: Your task this week is to decide who would be the best negotiator for Rich’s muffin business and tell us why.
Rich: If you are listening to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcast platform, you should also check out our website.
Jack: On the Premier Skills English website you’ll also find the transcript, examples and activities to help you understand the language, and a task for you to complete.
Rowan: You’ll also find a community of friendly listeners to interact with, in our comments section.
Rich: And that includes us - we’re always around to answer questions and join in the discussions.
Jack: But if you listen on Apple Podcasts you can always write your answers to our questions or any other comments in the review section.
Rowan: Before we do the roleplay let’s look back at last week’s football phrase.
Last week’s Football Phrase
Rich: If you didn’t hear our football phrase last week we’re going to give you one more chance to guess now.
Jack: The phrase was ******** ***. This phrase is used when a team haven’t lost for a number of games in a row or succession. Aston Villa are on an ******** *** in the Premier League at the moment - they haven’t lost for seven games and are hoping to stretch that ******** *** to eight when they play Leicester next week.
Rowan: Max Alex from Vietnam was the first with the correct answer last week - for the second week in a row. Well done Max Alex!
Jack: Did anyone else get it right last week?
Rich: Yes. A big well done to the following listeners who also got the right answer: Marco Zapien from Mexico, MoBeckham from Turkey, Liubomyr and Alex from Ukraine, Daniel Baron1503 and Jhon Baron Oliveros from Colombia, Emmanuel from France, Robert Tavares from Brazil and Elghoul from Algeria.
Rowan: Remember we’ll have the answer and a new football phrase at the end of the show.
Introduction to Roleplay
Jack: As we said earlier, in this week’s roleplay, Rich wants to publicise his muffin cafe
Rowan: and he needs to decide who is the best member of staff to negotiate with the advertising company he plans to use.
Rich: While you’re listening we want you to answer one question:
Jack: Who does Rich think is the right person for the job?
Rich: Rowan! Jack! Can you come into my office for a minute?
Rowan: What’s up?
Rich: There’s nothing up. I’m thinking of doing some advertising for the cafe.
Jack: We’re doing pretty well. Do you think we need more customers?
Rich: We always need more customers, Jack. I’m trying to build an empire here.
Rowan: An empire?
Rich: You don’t think I just want one cafe do you. There’s going to be a whole chain of Mr. Muffin cafes across the United Kingdom. I’ve got the Liverpool one here, I’ll have Chelsea and Arsenal cafes in London, Aston Villa Mr Muffin in Birmingham, a Newcastle one.
Jack: Big plans!
Rich: Yes, but that’s long term, in the short term I want to think of this place and we need to do more advertising.
Rowan: We could put up some posters.
Jack: I could hand out some flyers in the street.
Rich: No, I’m thinking bigger, much bigger. I’m thinking of a big blimp.
Rowan: A blimp? A blimp in the sky?
Rich: Yeah, you know, one of those big airships - a big ... huge balloon. We can get one tied to the roof and have Mr Muffin written across it. We could get one in the shape of a muffin. People will be able to see it for miles.
Jack: Will the neighbours like it?
Rich: They’ll love it. I had a call yesterday from airship ads. They’re specialists. There was just one issue.
Rowan: Was it that a big blimp above the cafe would look a bit silly?
Jack: Was it that getting a blimp up there is going to cost an absolute fortune?
Rich: You’re on the right lines. It’s a bit pricey so I need one of you to negotiate with them. Get a better deal. You can be really persuasive when you need to be, Rowan.
Rowan: So how much do they say it’ll cost?
Rich: Just over £5000.
Jack: Wow! And how much can you pay?
Rich: About a thousand. These types of things are always flexible. I’m sure one of you guys could get the price down.
Rowan: I’ll just tell them. We’ll give you a thousand or no deal.
Rich: You can’t be so blunt. It’s good to be to the point but …
Jack: Yeah, you can’t just storm into their office and say their blimps are too expensive. It’s no good being argumentative or even worse, confrontational.
Rowan: I wouldn’t be argumentative. I’m never argumentative. What are you trying to say?
Jack: Look you’re being argumentative now.
Rowan: No, I’m not. We’ll talk about this later.
Jack: And now confrontational.
Rich: Please. You’ve been getting on so well recently. I don’t want anyone to be over-aggressive. Assertive but not aggressive.
Rowan: Exactly. Assertive. You don’t want anyone in there who is too hesitant or indecisive otherwise we won’t get the deal we want.
Jack: I’m not hesitant or indecisive. I’m diplomatic and I’ll listen to what others have to say. It doesn’t mean I’m actually listening. It’s all about tactics.
Rich: I’m going to have to think about this …
Language Focus 1
Rowan: Before the roleplay, we asked you a question which was who does Rich think is the right person to negotiate the advertising deal.
Rich: Well, the answer is I’m not sure. I think Rowan is a bit too aggressive and maybe Jack isn’t aggressive enough.
Jack: OK, let’s look at some language. We said earlier that we were going to focus on adjectives in this lesson.
Rowan: We’re going to look at ten adjectives that were in the roleplay which can be used to describe negotiating styles.
Rich: These adjectives can also be used more generally to describe how someone communicates with others or even personality.
Jack: Our first adjective is persuasive. If you want to negotiate a good deal you need to be persuasive - you need to get other people to agree with you. You need to persuade others.
Rowan: In the roleplay, Rich said I can be really persuasive when I need to be. This means he thinks that I have the ability to persuade others; to get others to believe in what I am saying.
Rich: Our second adjective is blunt. When someone is blunt they are very direct and not worried about being polite.
Jack: Rich said that Rowan shouldn’t be so blunt in negotiations. Rowan thought it’d be a good idea to just say how much we will pay for the advertising - take it or leave it.
Rich: Yeah, this is a bit blunt and can come across as being rude. I think when you are negotiating you need to be a bit more sophisticated; a little less direct sometimes.
Rowan: Maybe a better adjective is concise. This is our next adjective. Like blunt it means to be direct and clear but it doesn’t have the meaning of being impolite or rude.
Jack: Yes, it’s more positive. If someone is concise they only give the information that is important, there is no need for irrelevant or superfluous information.
Rowan: I like this adjective ‘superfluous’ it’s the opposite of concise when it comes to speaking - it is used to describe things that are not needed like giving more information than is necessary.
Rich: We didn’t actually use concise or superfluous in the roleplay but I did say that it’s good to be to the point.
Jack: To the point is a phrase that can be used in a similar way to concise. If someone is to the point they are clear, direct and they don’t go into superfluous detail.
Rowan: Our next two adjectives are argumentative and confrontational. People shouldn’t be argumentative or confrontational in negotiations but unfortunately, they often are.
Rich: In the roleplay, I said that It’s no good being argumentative or even worse, confrontational.
Jack: Someone who is argumentative argues a lot. They get angry. Negotiations might start as a polite discussion or conversation but then these people get angry - they become argumentative.
Rich: The adjective confrontational is very similar to argumentative. It basically describes a person who is looking for a fight, looking for conflict, looking for a confrontation.
Rowan: It doesn’t only have to be used to describe people; we can talk about a confrontational style of management or maybe even a confrontational approach to negotiations.
Jack: Our next two adjectives are aggressive and assertive. Rich said he didn’t want anyone to be aggressive. Assertive but not aggressive.
Rich: Aggressive is similar to argumentative as it means to behave in an angry way but when someone is aggressive they may also be violent physically. Argumentative is only connected to speech.
Rowan: In the roleplay, Rich used the adjective over-aggressive. If someone is over-aggressive it means they are too aggressive. They are showing too much aggression.
Jack: We may hear it in football. It might be good to show a little aggression on the football pitch but the referee will show you a yellow or red card if you are over-aggressive when tackling.
Rich: So we spoke about being assertive rather than aggressive which is much more positive. To be assertive means to be confident when you give your opinions.
Rowan: Someone who is assertive is not scared or worried about saying what they want. People should be assertive, not aggressive or argumentative.
Jack: Our next two adjectives are similar: hesitant and indecisive. In the roleplay, Rowan said ‘you don’t want anyone in the meeting who is too hesitant or indecisive otherwise we won’t get the deal we want’.
Rich: If you are hesitant you are slow to react. You might be slow to speak or slow to act.
Jack: If you have an English speaking exam you should try to speak fluently and not be hesitant.
Rowan: And on the football pitch, goalkeepers shouldn’t be hesitant when they decide to catch a cross.
Rich: In this situation, a goalkeeper can be described as being hesitant or indecisive. Slow to react or slow to make a decision.
Jack: Someone who is indecisive is slow to make decisions. Hesitant can be used for actions and to talk about speech, whereas indecisive is connected to actions - to decisions rather than speech.
Rowan: Our final adjective is diplomatic. In the roleplay, Jack said ‘I’m diplomatic and I’ll listen to what others have to say’.
Jack: If someone is diplomatic they are tactful; they can deal with difficult situations when speaking without causing offence.
Rich: Diplomats do this by representing their country abroad.
Rowan: OK, we’ve looked at ten adjectives and if you want to check your understanding we have more exercises on the lesson page on the Premier Skills English website.
Jack: Let’s go back to our roleplay. Rich had a decision to make and in the end, he thought it was best to send both of us to the meeting.
Rowan: We want you to listen to part of the negotiations and as always we have a question for you.
Jack: The question is: Will Rich be happy with the deal we make?
Boss: As we said earlier we are willing to give you a discount if you go with the extra week.
Rowan: Yes, the discount is one of the things we have spoken about so far. Can we just summarise what else is still up for discussion?
Boss: We need to speak about delivery, cost of accessories and safety equipment, the printing of the advertisement and of course the helium.
Rowan: Are you saying that we have to pay for all that on top of the rental price?
Boss: That would be the usual arrangement.
Jack: Yeah, yeah. Really? I can give it a shot.
Rowan: Who was that? Give what a shot?
Jack: Rich. Can we come back to the small print later? I’d like to make a suggestion.
Jack: Well, I’ve just heard that you are a regular client of Mr. Muffin and my boss has just given me the authorisation to supply one lucky employee of airship ads with a lifetime supply of muffins.
Boss: Well, that certainly sweetens the deal. May I ask one question? Does this offer include the Mohamed Salah muffins?
Rowan: So, we’re all agreed. Two weeks blimp rental £995 and a free supply of muffins. A pleasure doing business with you.
Language Focus 2
Jack: Before the roleplay we asked you a question: Will Rich be happy with the deal we made?
Rich: Yes, I’m happy. Rowan and Jack got the blimp for under £1000 although they needed a little help from me with the muffin offer. I hope he doesn’t eat too many.
Rowan: We’re quickly going to focus on one more bit of language. We want to look at three skills when negotiating and some useful phrases.
Jack: These skills are signalling, checking understanding, and summarising. Let’s start with signalling. This is important in negotiations and many other meetings.
Rich: Signalling is drawing attention to what you are about to say. Letting people know that you are about to say something important. In the roleplay, we used statements and questions to do this.
Rowan: Jack said I’d like to make a suggestion and the boss of the ad company said May I ask one question?
Jack: It’s important to use statements and questions to signal to others that you are going to say something important.
Rich: The next skill is to check understanding.
Rowan: I did this in this sentence: Are you saying that we have to pay for all that on top of the rental price?
Jack: The phrase are you saying is being used to check understanding. We could use phrases such as ‘Sorry, could you repeat that’ or ‘So, what you’re saying is’ in a similar way.
Rich: The third important skill when negotiating is summarising. Can you hear the two phrases we used to summarise things in these examples:
Rowan: Can we just summarise what else is still up for discussion?
Jack: So, we’re all agreed. Two weeks blimp rental £995 and a free supply of muffins.
Rich: The useful summarising phrases are ‘can we just summarise’ and ‘so, we’re all agreed’
Rowan: If you want to learn more about the language we’ve used in this podcast we have more exercises on the lesson page on the Premier Skills English website.
Jack: Another idea is to listen to the roleplay section again - this time with the transcript - and see how we use the language in context.
Rowan: In this week’s roleplay we spoke about the skills and the language you need to negotiate a good deal.
Jack: This week’s task is to decide who is the best negotiator: Me, Rowan or Rich.
Rich: Do you think Rowan’s assertive and direct approach is best or Jack’s more diplomatic approach at the negotiating table?
Jack: Or do you think it’s better to take Rich’s approach and offer something to the people you are negotiating with. What did you call it Rich?
Rich: A sweetener. Something to sweeten the deal.
Jack: Anyway, decide who you think is the best negotiator, who would you like on your negotiating team, and say why using some of the adjectives we introduced in this lesson.
Rowan: Write all your answers in the comments section on the Premier Skills English website or Apple Podcasts if that’s where you listen to us.
Rich: And don’t forget to respond to other listeners and let them know what you think of their ideas.
Jack: Have you got a football phrase for us, Rich?
Rich: I have. This week’s football phrase is ******** *******. This is the person who looks after the team temporarily, for a short period of time, when the person who was in that position leaves or loses their job. This person looks after the team until a new person is found to train and coach the team.
Rowan: Here’s a clue. Roberto Di Matteo was one of the best ever ********* ******. He temporarily took over Chelsea in March 2012 and had won the Champions League by May.
Jack: Let’s see who can get it right. If you are still wondering what the answer was to last week’s football phrase it was an unbeaten run.
Rich: Right, that’s all we have time for this week! Don’t forget to write your answers to our questions and make a guess at our football phrase in the comments below. If you get it right, we’ll announce your name on next week’s show.
Rowan: If you have a question for us about football or English you can email us at email@example.com
Jack: or you can leave your questions and comments on the website in the comments section or on our Facebook page.
Rich: or you could give us a rating and a fantastic review on Apple Podcasts.
Rowan: Bye for now and enjoy your football!
How much did you understand?
Here is the vocabulary you saw at the top of this page and how Rowan, Rich and Jack used it in the roleplay. Do you know the words in bold?
I’m thinking of doing some advertising for the cafe.
There’s going to be a whole chain of Mr. Muffin cafes across the United Kingdom.
Yes, but that’s long term, in the short term I want to think of this place.
No, I’m thinking bigger, much bigger. I’m thinking of a big blimp.
You’re on the right lines. It is a bit pricey so I need one of you to negotiate with them.
We are willing to give you a discount if you go with the extra week.
Listen to the roleplays again to hear how Rich, Rowan and Jack used these words and phrases.
In the first roleplay, we looked at lots of adjectives that can be used to describe negotiating styles or even personalities and characteristics. Have a look at the sentences below which include some of these adjectives and then have a go at the activity to check your understanding.
It is a bit pricey so I need one of you to negotiate with them. Get a better deal. You can be really persuasive when you need to be, Rowan.
You can’t be so blunt. It’s good to be to the point but you can’t just storm into their office and say their blimps are too expensive.
I wouldn’t be argumentative. I’m never argumentative. What are you trying to say?
You’ve been getting on so well recently. I don’t want anyone to be over-aggressive. Assertive but not aggressive.
You don’t want anyone in there who is too hesitant or indecisive otherwise we won’t get the deal we want.
I’m not hesitant or indecisive. I’m diplomatic and I’ll listen to what others have to say.
In the second roleplay, you heard Rowan and Jack negotiating with the boss from the advertising company. While they were negotiating they used phrases that focused on three important skills we use when negotiating: signalling, checking understanding and summarising. Look at the sentences and phrases in bold and decide which of the three skills is being used:
Are you saying that we have to pay for all that on top of the rental price?
Can we just summarise what else is still up for discussion?
Can we come back to the small print later? I’d like to make a suggestion.
May I ask one question? Does this offer include the Mohamed Salah muffins?
So, we’re all agreed. Two weeks blimp rental £995 and a free supply of muffins.
In this week’s roleplay, we spoke about the skills and the language you need to negotiate a good deal and you probably got a good idea of the negotiating styles of Rich, Rowan and Jack.
This week’s task is to decide who is the best negotiator: Jack, Rowan or Rich?
- Do you think Rowan’s slightly aggressive or more assertive approach is best?
- Is Jack’s more diplomatic approach at the negotiating table better?
- Do you think it’s better to take Rich’s approach and offer something to the people you are negotiating with?
Decide who you think is the best negotiator, who would you like on your negotiating team, and say why using some of the adjectives we introduced in this lesson.
Write all your answers in the comments section below and don't forget to make a guess at this week's football phrase!