Speaking Skills: Negotiating
In this week's Premier Skills English Podcast, Jack and Rich play the roles of a director of football and a player's agent in order to discuss the transfer of a player to a new club. The language focus is on the skills and phrases you need when you are negotiating. Your task is to describe a situation when you had to negotiate something. Don't forget to listen to the end of the podcast because we have a new football phrase for you to guess, too. Enjoy!
Jack: What’s that you’re looking at Rich?
Rich: Are you shoulder surfing again? It’s not polite you know.
Jack: Got something to hide? You’re not working though, are you?
Rich: It’s kind of work. I’m looking at the football gossip online.
Jack: Pff. That’s not work.
Rich: It is. I need to know who’s moving where in the January transfer window. There could be lots of changes at Premier League clubs. We might need to make some changes to the club pages on the Premier Skills English website or something.
Jack: OK. So, who’s moving where then?
Rich: Nobody’s moving anywhere really. Most of the moves happen nearer deadline day at the end of the month. Chelsea have bought a teenager from Germany for £60 million.
Jack: I know we put him on the homepage last week. Old news.
Rich: They’re just rumours really but some of them could be true. Listen to this: a certain forward could sign for Liverpool from Barcelona in a deal worth £200 million.
Jack: Haha! No chance! I’ll believe that when I see it!
Rich: It says contract negotiations are in progress!!
Jack: No chance!
Rich: Hello my name’s Rich
Jack: and I’m Jack
Rich: and welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast
Jack: Where we talk about football and help you with your English.
Rich: We recommend that you listen to this podcast on the Premier Skills English website because that is where we have the transcript, language examples, activities, quizzes and a discussion page to help you understand everything we talk about.
Jack: However, if you’re listening on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, you could leave your answers in the review section. We do read all the reviews and would love to hear from you. What’s happening this week, Rich?
Rich: In this week’s podcast, we’re going to talk about the language we use when we are negotiating.
Jack: To negotiate means to discuss and try to reach an agreement between two people or groups about a deal or a problem.
Rich: Governments and political groups often negotiate about things and businesses often negotiate about costs and prices.
Jack: Individual people often negotiate about smaller things too. We negotiate about the price of a house or car or when we buy something in the market.
Rich: And football clubs, players and agents negotiate when a player moves from one club to another: we call these transfers.
Jack: We will look at three main types of phrase in this podcast: phrases we use to disagree, phrases we use to agree and phrases we use to persuade.
Rich: This is what we do in a good negotiation: we disagree or reject something, persuade the other person or group to agree or accept our idea or offer and finally agree or accept something.
Jack: And your task this week is to talk about a time where you have had to negotiate something.
Rich: Maybe you’ve had to negotiate the price of something like a car or a piece of furniture, maybe you have had to negotiate with your boss to get a pay rise or some time off work or maybe you’ve had to negotiate with your parents if you wanted to go to the match and they wanted you to do your homework.
Jack: Before all that though, let’s look at last week’s football phrase.
Football Phrase 1
Rich: Last week’s football phrase was transfer window and is, of course, connected to this week’s podcast.
Jack: The transfer window describes the period of time when football clubs can buy and sell players.
Rich: We had lots of correct answers. A big well done to Milos from Serbia, Liubomyr from Ukraine, Lakerwang from China, tpbatista from Brazil, Jabella10 from Australia, Elghoul from Algeria, Minter from Japan and Palmert from Turkey.
Jack: Well done to you all! At the end of this podcast, we will have another football phrase for you to guess.
Rich: In this week’s podcast, we’re talking about negotiations. Remember negotiations are when two people or groups of people try to agree about something.
Jack: You are going to listen to a roleplay. The roleplay is between the director of football at a football club and an agent for a player.
Rich: They are negotiating a transfer from one club to another.
Jack: While you are listening we want you to answer two questions. Question one: Why does the transfer deal need to be done quickly? Question two: Is the deal done?
Rich: So, you’re the player’s agent. I’ve heard you drive a hard bargain when negotiating contracts.
Jack: I wouldn’t say I drive a hard bargain, no. I just try to get the best deal possible for my players. I’m looking out for them, you know.
Rich: Yes, well. As you know, we want the striker at the club and we want to get a deal done before the transfer window closes in a few days. I’m confident we can come to some kind of understanding.
Jack: I’m sure we can. But as you know, this could be the last contract of the player’s career. The move needs to be right for him.
Rich: I totally understand where you’re coming from. Let’s start with the kind of figures we had in mind. This is the kind of base monthly salary we had in mind.
Jack: Wow! I’m afraid this is not a good starting point. It’s a bit of a lowball offer, to be honest. It’s less than the player is currently on.
Rich: This, of course, doesn't include elements of performance-related pay. He will get bonuses for appearances made, goals scored and where we finish at the end of the season.
Jack: Yes, I can see this part of the offer is very generous and I think we’re in the same ballpark in terms of the figures but this base salary is a bit of a sticking point.
Rich: What kind of figures did you have in mind?
Jack: Here, this is the kind of salary we were thinking …
Rich: That doesn’t really work for me. I’m prepared to compromise, but these kinds of figures are just too high.
Jack: The player does have other offers in this country and abroad.
Rich: I’m sure he does … what if we were to meet halfway? We could be talking about a figure like this.
Jack: This is definitely something I could take back to the player. Let me get back to him and we’ll carry on talking in the morning.
Rich: Great. I’m sure we can come to an agreement that suits both parties.
Jack: Before we look at some examples from the roleplay, let’s give you the answers to those two comprehension questions we gave you.
Rich: The first question was why does a deal need to be done quickly. The answer is that the transfer window closes in a few days and clubs can only buy players when the transfer window is open.
Jack: The second question was if the deal got done. The answer is no but negotiations have progressed and they will continue the following day.
Rich: Right, as we said earlier, we’re going to look at negotiating in three parts. First, phrases we use to disagree with people, second, phrases we use to persuade people and third, phrases we use to agree with people.
Jack: Let’s start with some phrases we heard in the roleplay that we use to disagree with each other.
Rich: In general, you hear the words I’m afraid, I’m sorry and but a lot when someone is disagreeing in a polite way. Negotiations are usually polite.
Jack: Rich said ‘I’m afraid this is not a good starting point’ and ‘I’m prepared to compromise, but these kinds of figures are just too high’.
Rich: We are often very diplomatic when we disagree during negotiations. We apologise. We say things like ‘I’m really sorry but we can’t agree on this’ or ‘I’m afraid I have a few reservations or worries about this point’.
Rich: We also often say something positive before we say something negative like in the sentence from the roleplay that we just mentioned:
Jack: ‘I’m prepared to compromise, but these kinds of figures are just too high’.
Rich: When we disagree we often offer to compromise in negotiations.
Jack: To compromise means to give up something so the people you are negotiating with are happy to make a deal. Usually, both sides have to compromise.
Rich: If is an important word here. We might say things such as: ‘we might be able to give you more money if you work a few more hours’ or ‘we could offer you a pay rise if you can agree to take on more responsibility’.
Jack: Let’s go back to some more of the phrases we used in the roleplay connected to disagreeing. There are some phrases we often use to say we’re not happy. The most obvious one was when Rich said ‘This doesn’t really work for me’.
Rich: There were a couple of other phrases that were a bit more complicated. I said ‘the salary is a bit of a sticking point’ and ‘it’s a bit of a low ball offer’.
Jack: A sticking point is something that people disagree about and stops the negotiations from progressing.
Rich: Jack said; ‘the salary was a bit of a sticking point’. He also said; ‘the salary was a bit of a lowball offer’.
Jack: A lowball offer is something much less than what you think is acceptable. It’s a tactic that is often used as a starting point in negotiations.
Rich: Let’s move on to some expressions we can use to persuade people. This is another very important part of negotiations.
Jack: One way we try to persuade the other person in negotiations is by being positive about what the other person says before saying what you want.
Rich: In the podcast, I said; ‘I totally understand where you’re coming from’. This is used to be positive about the other person. I then moved on to say; ‘Let’s talk about the money I had in mind’.
Jack: Rich said that he was ‘prepared to compromise’ before saying that the money I wanted was too high. Here he’s trying to persuade me to reduce the amount of money I want.
Rich: Another tactic is to talk about wanting the same thing. During the roleplay, I said these two phrases: ‘I’m confident we can come to some kind of understanding’ and ‘I’m sure we can come to an agreement that suits both parties’.
Jack: Rich also used the phrase ‘what if we were to meet halfway’. You could also say something like: ‘Why don’t we meet in the middle?’ to mean the same thing.
Rich: Both of these phrases are making a person seem fair and are often used to persuade someone else.
Jack: Other words or phrases to persuade someone that are often used at the beginning of sentences include: ‘I’m confident’, ‘I’m convinced’ ‘I’m certain’ and ‘Surely’.
Rich: Finally, let's look at some phrases we use to agree with each other as that is where good negotiations should always end up.
Jack: In the roleplay, I said ‘we’re in the same ballpark’ when we were talking about money.
Rich: This phrase is used when we nearly agree with each other. It’s often used to talk about money when the amounts are not the same but not very far apart.
Jack: Another phrase we used in the roleplay was; ‘That’s definitely something I can take back to the player’. We use this when we’ve come close to a deal and need to discuss it with other people.
Rich: Other phrases we can use to agree during negotiations might include: I completely, totally or wholeheartedly agree, that’s a fair point, I think we can both agree that …, and I see where you’re coming from.
Jack: Take a look at the activities on the Premier Skills English website because we have more examples of how these phrases are used and activities to check your understanding.
Rich: This week’s task is to tell us about a time when you have had to negotiate about something.
Jack: Maybe you’ve had to negotiate the price of something like a car or a piece of furniture.
Rich: Maybe you have had to negotiate with your boss to get a pay rise or some time off work.
Jack: Or maybe you’ve had to negotiate with your parents if you wanted to go to the match or a party and they wanted you to do your homework or help them with something.
Rich: There are a few questions for you to answer at the bottom of the podcast page on the website. These will help you write your answers.
Football Phrase 2
Rich: The final section this week is this week’s football phrase. Have you got one Jack?
Jack: I have and it’s connected to transfers which we’ve been talking about. The phrase is ******** ******** ***. It describes the *** when the ******** window closes. There are two of these days each year. One of them is the last day in January and the other is in August. The word in the middle of this phrase is more generally used to describe the exact time that something has to be finished by.
Rich: Let’s see who can get it right! If you know the answer, write your answer in the comments section at the bottom of the page. We will announce your name in next week’s podcast if you get it right.
Jack: Before we finish it was good to hear some of your stories about moving house last week. Minter from Japan told us about when he moved to London, Elghoul from Algeria told us about when he moved away from the capital - Algiers and Lakerwang from China told us about a city he had to move to that was over a thousand kilometres away.
Rich: It was great to hear how learning English helped Lakerwang in his new city, too.
Jack: Right, that’s all we have time for this week. Bye for now and enjoy your football!
How much did you understand?
In the podcast, Rich and Jack used some words and phrases that might be new for you. Do you know the words in bold?
It’s kind of work. I’m looking at the football gossip online.
It says contract negotiations are in progress!
The roleplay is between the director of football at a football club and an agent for a player.
I’ve heard you drive a hard bargain when negotiating contracts.
There were a few more tricky words and phrases in the podcast. Do you know what they all mean? Try the activity below, then, listen to the podcast again to hear how we used the words. This can really help your understanding.
In this week's podcast, Jack and Rich were negotiating a player's contract. They were in negotiations about the player's salary, bonuses, length of contract etc. Here is how we defined negotations in the podcast:
Negotiations are when two people or groups of people try to agree about something.
Negotiate can also be a verb: to negotiate. Here is how we defined to negotiate in the podcast:
To negotiate means to discuss and try to reach an agreement between two people or groups about a deal or a problem.
People negotiate all the time about all kinds of things. Governments and political groups negotiate about decisions that will affect their populations. Businesses negotiate about costs and prices. Individual people negotiate with their bosses, teachers and parents. In this podcast, we looked at an example of negotiations between a director of football and an agent. They were negotiating a transfer to a new club.
Phrases we use when negotiating
In the podcast, we looked at three types of phrases that are used when we are negotiating:
- Phrases we use to disagree with something or reject a deal
- Phrases we use to persuade someone to accept a deal or compromise
- Phrases we use to agree with something or accept a deal
Disagreeing or rejecting a deal
When people negotiate, especially if it is a formal situation, they are usually very polite. This includes when people disagree or reject an idea or a deal. To be polite in this situation it's very common to start sentences with 'I'm afraid ...' or 'I'm sorry, but ...' Look at these examples::
I’m afraid this is not a good starting point.
I’m really sorry, but we can’t agree on this.
I’m afraid I have a few reservations or worries about this point.
We also introduced a few phrases in the podcast that are used in negotiations when we reject something. Take a look at the phrases in bold. Do you understand what they mean? Listen to the language focus section of the podcast if you are not sure or check the transcript.
This doesn’t really work for me.
The salary was a bit of a sticking point.
The salary was a bit of a lowball offer.
Persuading and compromising
Trying to persuade the other person or group to agree with you and compromising is an important part of any negotiation. People are often positive about the other person's idea at the beginning and use phrases such as :
I totally understand where you’re coming from. But as you know, this could be the last contract of the player’s career.
Another way to persuade people is to talk about wanting the same thing:
I’m confident we can come to some kind of understanding.
I’m sure we can come to an agreement that suits both parties.
Another thing that often happens is that one person offers to compromise and then the other person also compromises. To compromise means to give up something so the people you are negotiating with are happy to make a deal. Usually, both sides have to compromise. These are some examples of compromises or persuading someone to compromise:
What if we were to meet halfway?
Why don’t we meet in the middle?
I'm prepared to compromise, but you have to compromise, too.
We might be able to give you more money if you work a few more hours.
Agreeing or accepting a deal
Towards the end of successful negotiations, both groups will start to agree to a deal and may accept a deal or move forward to the next step in the process. At this point, you might hear phrases such as:
I can see this part of the offer is very generous and I think we’re in the same ballpark in terms of the figures.
This is definitely something I could take back to the player. Let me get back to him and we’ll carry on talking in the morning.
I completely/totally /wholeheartedly agree.
That’s a fair point.
I think we can both agree that …
I see where you’re coming from.
In the activity below, read the dialogue of a negotiation and complete the gaps with an appropriate word.
This week’s task is to tell us about a time when you have had to negotiate something.
. Use these questions to help you write your answer:
Have you ever had to negotiate the price of something such as a house, car or a piece of furniture?
Have you ever had to negotiate with your boss to get a pay rise or some time off work?
Have you ever had to negotiate with your parents if you wanted to go somewhere and they wanted you to do something else?
How did the negotiations go? Did you manage to persuade the other person? Did you have to compromise?
Write your answers in the comments section below and don't forget to make a guess at our football phrase.