We take a further look at negotiating.
VICTOR: Yes, well, we’re prepared to consider your offer Ms Chan, if you can accept some conditions.
SUE: And subject to consideration by the board…
JOHN: What are the conditions?
VICTOR: Well, firstly the price you’re proposing. Would that be variable depending on currency fluctuations? The issue is that we’re in an unstable environment at the moment – the exchange rate could affect us negatively.
JOHN: Us too!
VICTOR: True, but the problem is that we’re tied to the U.S. dollar.
LIN: We could consider hedging against currency in both directions.
SUE: That would be acceptable.
VICTOR: Another problem we may have is that of supply. Our customers often need supply at short notice. If we do get large orders, we need to guarantee delivery – so we need to stockpile. The difficulty there is the capital outlay. How would you feel about a partial offset against our sales?
JOHN: You mean a loan.
VICTOR: I suppose so.
SUE: Would you be agreeable to a deferred payment? We can provide security of course.
LIN: I think that would be acceptable. Unfortunately, I would need to get Board approval for it.
SUE: Of course.
VICTOR: Then I think we might have a deal!
LIN: In principle.
JOHN: Time to celebrate!
He doesn’t say ‘we agree to your offer’, he says ‘we’re prepared to consider your offer’.
He is signalling to the other side that there is a chance for agreement by using the word ‘consider’, which means ‘think about’.
He then makes this conditional by saying ‘if you can accept some conditions’. In English, using the word ‘if’ in this way is called a conditional.
Victor is saying ‘We can consider your offer if you can accept some conditions.’ One part of the sentence is conditional on, or depending on the other.
The negative is also true. If they can’t accept the conditions, Victor can’t consider the offer.
Notice that Sue adds: ‘subject to consideration by the board’. ‘Subject to’ is another type of conditional phrase. She means ‘We can agree if the board agrees.’ ‘Subject to’ is a legal phrase meaning ‘only if’, or ‘only after’. There are a number of expressions you can use when giving a condition. Try them after me:
…conditional on the board’s agreement.
…providing that the board agrees.
…as long as the board agrees.
…on condition that the board agrees.
Notice that he explains what the problem is… He says ‘The issue is that we’re in an unstable environment.’
‘The issue’ means the problem, or the thing that needs discussing.
Practise with Victor some ways of introducing a problem.
The problem is the exchange rate.
The difficulty we have is with the exchange rate.
‘Would’ is like a conditional. One thing might result in another thing happening.
The exchange rate might change.
Victor is talking about the price for their product. He asks ‘would that be variable depending on currency fluctuations’. ‘Fluctuations’ are changes. We can express this another way: ‘If the currency changes, will the price change?’ ‘Could’ is used to express a possibility – something that might happen.
Victor says ‘the exchange rate could affect us negatively’. Notice that you can say something will affect you negatively – it will have a negative, or bad effect, or positively – it will have a positive , or good effect.
What is Lin’s response to this first condition, or concern of Victor’s?
That would be acceptable.
We can give both questions and answers using these ‘could’ and ‘would’ phrases. Practise them after Lin and Victor.
Would you agree to hedging against currency?
We could consider hedging against currency.
We could agree to hedging against currency.
We can agree to that.
We would be agreeable to that.
That wouldn’t be acceptable I’m afraid.
I’m afraid we can’t agree to that.
We wouldn’t be agreeable to that.
What is Victor’s second condition? Let’s see.
I think that would be acceptable. Unfortunately, I would need to get Board approval for it.
The Board would need to approve that.
That would be subject to Board approval.
So it’s very important when negotiating to listen for words that signal a condition: words like ‘if’, ‘could’,’would’, ‘provided’ or ‘providing’, ‘as long as’ and ‘subject to’.
And words that might signal a problem, such as ‘problem’, ‘unfortunately’, and ‘however’.
Notice that even at the end, they are being careful about what they say.
And right now we’ve reached the end of today’s program. See you next time on the Business of English.
Episodes of The Business of English
- The Business of English E15: Until Next Time
- The Business of English E14: A Formal Speech
- The Business of English E13: We Might Have a Deal
- The Business of English E12: Negotiating
- The Business of English E11: Can I Help You?
- The Business of English E10: Wrapping It Up
- The Business of English E09: A Customer Survey
- The Business of English E08: Graphs and Trends
- The Business of English E07: A Report on Progress
- The Business of English E06: What are the options?
- The Business of English E05: Hear!Hear!
- The Business of English E04: Any Other Business
- The Business of English E03: Getting Aquainted
- The Business of English E02: Why don’t you join us?
- The Business of English E01: Pleased to meet you
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