We look at negotiating.
LIN: Hello, Lin Chan, Sales Manager for National Sugar - and my associate John Martin.
VICTOR: Very pleased to meet you. I'm Victor Tang, and this is my legal adviser Sue Panay.
JOHN: I hope you had a pleasant flight over.
SUE: Yes, we did thanks.
JOHN: Are you staying for a few days?
VICTOR: Unfortunately we need to get back to Manila tomorrow.
LIN: Well, we'd better get down to business. Mr Tang, to start off with, I just want to say we believe we can offer you a very good deal and come up with a win-win result.
VICTOR: Well, from our point of view, we see it as an exploratory talk - testing the water you might say.
SUE: We don't intend to reach any agreements at this meeting - in any case we would need to run it past our board first.
JOHN: You haven't heard our terms yet - you may find them hard to resist!
(Victor and Sue exchange a raised eyebrow)
LIN: Of course we understand you need time to consider any offer. My first priority is to keep the negotiations open.
VICTOR: What's your proposal Ms Chan?
LIN: We're prepared to offer a very attractive price for a minimum sale, in exchange for a two-year contract. John will clarify the terms.
A negotiation is a discussion that should result in an agreement or business contract. The discussion is usually between two parties - or organisations - trying to reach an agreement satisfactory to both.
In a negotiation, we need to reach a position that it is not too difficult for either side to accept, so the language we use is important - and it's also important to listen carefully.
When starting a negotiation, begin with a greeting, and what we call 'small-talk' - something to 'break the ice', or make the meeting a friendly one.
Lin starts by introducing herself and her associate. It's important that everyone at the meeting knows their roles, so Victor also introduces Sue by telling them her job.
Before they start the negotiations, John asks about their journey. He says 'I hope you had a pleasant flight', and asks how long they are staying. This way, the negotiation starts in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
Here are a few phrases you could use to put the other party at ease.
I hope you had a pleasant flight.
Are you enjoying Sydney?
How is your hotel?
In some cultures, it is usual not to talk about business straight away, but in others, it is expected that you will get down to business quickly. You just have to judge the situation, and feel your own way.
How does Lin signal that it is time to start the negotiation?
Lin says 'we'd better get down to business'. Notice that she makes it a suggestion. She is suggesting they should talk business.
Practise some phrases for suggesting it's time to talk business.
Well, we'd better get down to business.
Shall we get down to business?
Well, how about we get down to business?
The next thing Lin does is make an opening statement. An opening statement should tell the other person what you are expecting to get out of the meeting. The opening statement would normally be made by the person who requested the meeting.
Lin says 'to start off with', and then she states what she wants to achieve. She says she is going to offer 'a very good deal', and that she wants to achieve a 'win-win' result. She is signalling to the other party that she wants both of them to be happy with the outcome.
Practise, with Lin, some phrases to introduce an opening statement.
Let me start off by saying...
I'd like to begin by saying...
Let me kick things off by saying...
To 'kick things off' is to start a discussion. How do Victor and Sue respond?
Victor says 'from our point of view', and Lin says 'we don't intend'. They use the words 'our' and 'we', instead of 'my' and 'I' because they are talking as representatives of the company, not as individuals. If Victor was on his own, he might use 'I' and 'my' - especially as the C.E.O. of the company. Here are some other phrases Victor could use to state their point of view:
'From our perspective...'
'Our position is that...'
'As far as we're concerned...'
Victor says they see it as an 'exploratory talk'. He means they are 'exploring options', or finding out what Lin has to offer. He is suggesting by this that they aren't going to make a decision at this meeting - and he is letting Lin know this. He describes this in another way by saying they are 'testing the water'.
Notice too that Sue reinforces this. She says 'we don't intend to reach any agreements at this meeting.' She is stating clearly the outcome that they are expecting from the meeting. She says they would have to 'run past the board' any proposals made. A proposal is a formal offer or suggestion made by one business to another, and to 'run something past the board' means to get the board's approval or feedback. In a negotiation, each party needs to respond to what the other says for the negotiation to proceed.
How does Lin respond to Victor and Sue's statement.
She says she understands they are not going to agree at this meeting. She says 'My first priority is to keep the negotiations open.' A priority is an important goal. A first priority is your most important goal.
Notice the reaction when John speaks.
John hasn't listened to what Victor and Sue have said, and they don't like it. But Lin makes a conciliatory statement. That is, she makes a concession. She backs down from her first position. When negotiating, you usually need to make some concessions to reach an agreement. If nobody makes a concession, the negotiation can't proceed...like this...
If we don't listen carefully to what the other party is signalling, negotiations can break down very quickly.
Now that each side has made their position clear, they can talk about the details of the proposal.
Let's review the main points from today. In negotiations, begin with introductions and then some informal talk. Then each side makes an opening statement -this should state clearly what they want to achieve.
Then, whichever party called the meeting begins the negotiation by giving an opening proposal.
And remember - it's important to listen to signals and the opening statements carefully, otherwise the negotiation can quickly go in the wrong direction.
That's all for The Business of English for today. See you next time.