10 Business Negotiations Idioms Explained to English as a Second Language Learners
English idioms or idiomatic expressions have always been one of the trickiest topics for English as a Second Language learners.
This is because the real meanings of English idioms are so far off their literal meanings.
These real meanings are clarified to native English speakers through frequent English conversations that, unfortunately, not too many English as a Second Language learners get the chance to have.
To make things more complicated for English as a Second Language learners, idioms are used in business negotiations, which are often important meetings that businessmen hold to buy, sell, grow, or guard their businesses.
Below is a list of ten English idioms that are often used for business negotiations and with which English as a Second Language learners must familiarize themselves.
1. Sweeten the Deal
To sweeten the deal means to give an attractive offer to the other party during a negotiation process. This offer is very enticing, something that the other party may find irresistible.
The negotiators sweetened the deal by adding a 10-year warranty on top of the 10% discount on the purchase.
2. Rock-Bottom Offer
A rock-bottom offer is the lowest price that a negotiating party is willing to give for something. When an offer is at its rock-bottom price, then the price cannot go any lower.
The amount of $13.5 million is our rock-bottom offer for this mansion. Take it or leave it.
3. Put One's Cards on the Table
To put one’s card on the table is to be transparent in negotiations. When a party has put its cards on the table, then it is assumed that it is truthful and has nothing to hide.
We’re putting our cards on the table. We want to buy this company and put our own management team.
4. Play One's Cards Close to One's Chest
To play one’s cards close to one’s chest may be the opposite of put one’s card on the table. It is to be secretive, watchful, and guarded.
Our executives played their cards close to their chest when they were speaking with the executives from a competing company.
5. Play One's Ace
To play one’s ace is to use one’s best resources – abilities, funds, connections, etc. – or everything. Ace – considered the most powerful card – is used to signify the best resources.
One of our competitors is playing its ace to stage a hostile takeover of our company.
6. Hold All the Aces/Cards/Trumps
When a negotiating party holds all the aces/cards/trumps, it means that it has all the advantages during the negotiation process. Thus, it can negotiate well and is likely to win.
Honestly, they hold all the aces. They have the needed money, a large market share, and a great growth potential.
7. Play Hardball (With Someone)
People do play hardball (with someone) if they are acting uncompromisingly and forcefully. They usually act in a hostile way.
We have to play hardball with the buyers and not immediately grab their offer.
8. Go For Broke
To go for broke means to risk everything in hopes of getting something. It can also mean to try very hard or exert much effort.
The farmers went for broke during the trial. Fortunately, the law sided with them and granted them absolute rights to their lands.
9. Go Back to the Drawing Board / Go Back to Square One
To go back to the drawing board or go back to square one means to start everything all over again, signaling that the initial efforts were not enough and that something had to be restarted.
The board rejected our offer. We’re going back to the drawing board and improving on our last offer.
10. Close Ranks
To have closed ranks means to be united and solid, refusing to compromise during negotiations.
Our management had a rough time speaking with the union members. The union closed ranks and refused to agree on any terms that it thought unacceptable.
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