Business Negotiations: At least 7 Elegant (and Killer) Phrases You Can Use

I am a big, huge, tremendous fan of the Game of Thrones. I’ve watched the series and read those giant-sized books (Have you seen the printed version of A Dance of Dragons? It’s heavier than my laptop! Seriously!).

I now frequently dream of riding through forests like Jon Snow, killing people the way Arya does (yeah, I know, that does make me sound creepy.. You can call me Reema – The Swift One), and ‘my lord’ing everyone around me.

I realize it can give many good lessons to my readers on how to use English elegantly while doing business.

Because of course it would be sooo shameful (and embarrassing) (and pitiful) (and stupid) to lose the war of words right at the early stages when you are fighting the Game of Business 😉

Entering a new market for your business is always exciting.

Getting a new customer is also always exciting.

Making a sale is always exciting.

And customers come from the story we tell them. From the words we use.

Our words are more important than we think. They determine how people like our business, how they like our product, how they like us.

Our words are the tools that create the desired meaning in the minds of our listeners.

What should we say when we want to inspire them?

What should we say when we want to look powerful?

What should we say when we want to appear confident about our work?

What words will imply we deserve the price that we are charging?

How should we speak to win the trust of our buyers?

Elegant phrases come in handy for you during business negotiations, which very often are the most critical part of any deal and can be difficult, awkward moments, and frequently even become messy. A lot of times you also end up bowing so low that the other party wins on its terms and you are left resentful about having taken up the project in the first place. Isn’t this true, tell me below

Be elegant and in control next time. Not sweaty.

Check out this video first and then re-watch it after understanding the phrases and words I’ve explained below.

[0:04] What is it you want? This is actually a bit too high-headed. Try not to speak this to someone unless you are truly in a position to call the shots. Otherwise, “How can I help you?’ is perfect to imply that you know you’ve got good skills and can help them. When you say this you appear powerful without being too high-headed. ‘What is it you want?’ may be a bit rude at times. Unless you really command power.

[0:09] I fear..  is a good way to start a sentence where you are going to deny something to the listener. It has connotations of being humble but still implies control of the decision making.

I fear I can’t negotiate further on this with you / [Similarly] I’m afraid I can’t negotiate further on this with you. (means I won’t reduce prices anymore.)

[0:12] I cannot give you what I do not have – is a very smart statement which can be twisted to fit into many situations. It’s also very strong so needs to be used sparingly, not like a random statement you throw around when you don’t know what to say.

It can come in very handy during tough negotiations. It makes it difficult for the other party to argue back. But this must be used very carefully.

You simply refuse to give – in this statement. I cannot give you what I do not have.

[0:17] I’m asking you… I hope this is simple to everyone but I’d like to be thorough so let’s take a few seconds to discuss this. This is the simplest, no-nonsense way to put forward what you want from the meeting.

I’m asking you to meet me next Thursday.

I’m asking you for a 5% reduction in the shipment fee.

I’m asking you to give me two more interns for my team.

[0:48] …so let me explain my position – This is so very important. This sentence allows you to talk about your problem, your situation and shift the negotiation to your way. This really leaves no doors open for the other party but to shut up and listen.

[1:06] I do not doubt your honesty and intention Even if you do doubt it, you can say this sentence. Because this sentence means that nothing about what you’re discussing is personal – it’s just numbers and that you want numbers. With this sentence you tell the other person to stop talking about intangible things like their hard work, spirit, passion, dreams and start talking about numbers & profits.

In a subtle way, it also indicates I indeed doubt your honesty and intention, sir, yes I do, so give me the moolah.

[1:35] Forgive me… This is a statement which you can use before you make a strong statement or before you deny something to the other party or before you take an offensive position.

Of course, it’s not literal. It was merely a courteous way to refuse something but now it is more of a warning. A warning that I am going to say something you are not going to like but I’ll say it anyway.

Forgive me, but I cannot believe you did not check your emails for 4 days.

Forgive me but I cannot spare an hour everyday to a discussion on this topic.

Forgive me, but I cannot give off-season discounts.

[2:34] I admire your passion I admire is a way to start stating what you like and acts as a great precedent to get to the point – the points you don’t like and won’t stand for.

I admire <this> but I cannot do <that>.

I admire your designing capabilities but I cannot pay your hourly rate. It is simply unjustified.

Let me know what you think about this advice. The comments below are open for you. Feel free to share this content with whoever you think might benefit from it.

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6 Comments

  1. Very interesting and useful! I will definitely give it a go 😉

    • Hello Virginie, I’m so so glad you found it useful. That makes my effort worth it. 🙂
      I do hope this and other ideas on the blog would be helpful to you. Can’t wait to hear the feedback 🙂

  2. Suraj Kumar

    Hello Mam
    I read this article and find it very useful and powerful tool for business and sales. Since I am working in a sales profession, negotiations are very common and using right words and sentences can be a game changer. Can you please tell some words to politely disagree with client or to make a complaint for not fulfilling his commitment in a polite and positive manner.
    Thanks

    • Hi Suraj,

      I am glad you found this post useful! That’s the purpose of my blog.

      To politely disagree with your client, there are many ways, but some phrases I can quickly give you are:
      – “I am not sure I could agree with that”
      – “Right but I have some opinion/observations I could add to that.”
      – “I have some concerns about this which we should/could discuss/sort out now.”

      To make a complaint in a polite manner, I will need more details like – do you want to say it verbally or over email, what kind of service are they providing you etc, but at a general level, something like this can be a good way to start the complaint:
      – “I have some concerns which I think we should look at.”
      – “There is some room for improvement still in our work, based on what we had initially agreed over.”
      – “Based on the terms of work we had discussed, I had expected some more things from you.”

      Hope this helps 🙂

  3. Hans

    I feel confirmed in my using already most of it! However I will print them out and put them in my pocket for my next funding pitch 🙂

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