Do you have problems with your English skills but you need to negotiate in English? Would you like to look and act as a professional negotiator even if you need to speak English? The majority of negotiations take place in English nowadays. However, for the majority of negotiators English is not the first language.
The conclusion is that it is not impossible.
What to do then? How to prepare?
Let’s see some guidelines that based on my experience as a business English teacher for over ten years could help you in the process.
1. First of all, be good with numbers in English.
If you fail this part, it could have disastrous consequences. You can imagine. I mean not only simple numbers but also ordinals, decimals, proportions, percentages. Make sure you can describe a graph or talk about changes in price. It makes a difference if you decrease the price by 5 percent or to 5 percent.
Numbers, years, length, dates in English
It is also crucial to understand if the final price is the third of the original or three times the original figure. You can practice this simply by dictating your numbers to your teacher or writing down the numbers the teacher tells you.
Moreover, good business English books usually have a section on numbers with useful listening materials (eg. the In Company series). Don’t forget. This is critical to avoid misunderstandings.
While practicing numbers, also check out words like, rise, increase, fall, decrease. Make sure you can use them in the right tense and the right form.
Vocabulary for negotiation
That already leads to the issue of grammar or accuracy. Of course, the language you can use also depends on the English skills of your negotiating partner.
No point in using complicated structures if the other team cannot understand them. However, if they do, it might be really useful to revise Conditionals, Modals etc. No need to say later: “If I had revised these structures, I could have received a huge order.”
2. Read a little to prepare for cultural differences
that could influence your negotiation. If you just deal with this issue a little, you will be surprised what pitfalls you can avoid with a bit of background information. Most business books have a chapter on this (eg. New Insights into Business, In Company).
3. Listen to as many recorded sample conversations as possible.
Listen and repeat the sentences. Then act out the situation. Listen in the car, at home or when jogging. If the expressions and sentences come to your mind with ease, you will be able to use them in a stressful real life situation.
5. Prepare for your specific negotiation with your teacher. Act it out.
Several times if necessary. Ask the teacher to be a tough negotiator who gives you a hard time. Go into details. Discuss all options. Do it again and again.
6. Ask questions if needed.
If you are not sure, do not hesitate to ask questions. It is better to clarify while you are in the process of negotiating than go home and not be sure about the results.
After the negotiation open a nice bottle of wine. Time to celebrate.