Business English - Idioms for Negotiations

The following idioms will come in handy when you have to meet with Americans for negotiations. I have divided them into two categories to make memorization easier. To practice the idioms, imagine situations where you would use them.

Also, keep in mind that "speaking someone's language" does not only mean being able to communicate with correct grammar and so on, it also means that you master tone and lingo used in specific situations to make yourself more relatable and/or to be taken more seriously by your counterpart depending on the situation, of course. These idioms should help you do just that. One more tip, do not overuse them. You do not want to only speak in cliches but use them wisely.

Idioms – Strategy

Keep your cards close to your chest! - Don’t reveal your position.

Don’t show your hand yet. - Don’t reveal your position.

Keep something up your sleeve! - hold bargaining points back for later in the negotiation

Let’s play it by ear. - listen and improvise accordingly.

Stick to your guns! - maintain your position

Idioms – Progress

We are going round in circles. - repeat oneself without making progress

We both need to give a little ground here. - make concessions

We’re getting bogged down. - focus too much on one thing and not making progress

We’ve reached a stalemate. - arrive at a position where progress and concessions have stopped

We broke the deadlock. - move past a major sticking point (=issue)

We clinched a deal. - reach an agreement

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Marike Korn