People Innovation Excellence

English Tips: How to Sound Diplomatic and Polite in Negotiations

Communicating in some formal situations (such as business meetings, interviews, and negotiations) requires a speaker to use different ways to express his/her ideas. In daily conversations with friends or family, it is okay to be straight to the point or to neglect politeness in speech. However, this is not the case with formal conversations. For example, it is strongly suggested to use a diplomatic and polite way to speak in a business negotiation. How so? Often times, a client or a potential investor has the need to be highly respected, not only through behavior but also by the way we speak. Therefore, as a negotiator or a representative of a company, one has to master the art of diplomacy and negotiation language.

There are a few tips for those encountering such formal situations. In language use, a speaker needs to use soft or less-direct sentences and to avoid confrontation. So how does a speaker ‘soften’ or make his/her sentences less direct? First, he/she can use ‘qualifiers’ in front of a word. There are two types of them: increasing and decreasing qualifiers. In an attempt to make sentences soft or less direct, a speaker needs to use decreasing qualifiers such as a little, a bit, slightly, small, etc. Here are a few examples of using decreasing qualifiers:

  1. Instead of saying: We are behind our original schedule.

One should say: We are a bit behind our original schedule.

In this sentence, the qualifier ‘a bit’ makes it softer and more polite.

  1. Instead of saying: It is different from what I had in mind.

One should say: It is slightly different from what I had in mind.

In this sentence, the qualifier ‘slightly’ makes it less-direct and therefore, more polite and diplomatic.

The next strategy that one might use to avoid directness is to use negative questions. Compare these two:

  • We need a new budgeting plan, right?
  • Don’t you think we need a new budgeting plan?

In the first sentence, the direct question sounds too affirmative and somehow intimidating, while the second question implies more indirect and less confronting meaning.

Although there are still many ways to soften one’s sentences in negotiations, those two strategies (using decreasing qualifier and negative question) in language use might be helpful for diplomatic and polite negotiating.

Published at : Updated
Written By
Asih Zunaidah
Language Center Officer | BINUS Malang
Leave Your Footprint

    Periksa Browser Anda

    Check Your Browser

    Situs ini tidak lagi mendukung penggunaan browser dengan teknologi tertinggal.

    Apabila Anda melihat pesan ini, berarti Anda masih menggunakan browser Internet Explorer seri 8 / 7 / 6 / ...

    Sebagai informasi, browser yang anda gunakan ini tidaklah aman dan tidak dapat menampilkan teknologi CSS terakhir yang dapat membuat sebuah situs tampil lebih baik. Bahkan Microsoft sebagai pembuatnya, telah merekomendasikan agar menggunakan browser yang lebih modern.

    Untuk tampilan yang lebih baik, gunakan salah satu browser berikut. Download dan Install, seluruhnya gratis untuk digunakan.

    We're Moving Forward.

    This Site Is No Longer Supporting Out-of Date Browser.

    If you are viewing this message, it means that you are currently using Internet Explorer 8 / 7 / 6 / below to access this site. FYI, it is unsafe and unable to render the latest CSS improvements. Even Microsoft, its creator, wants you to install more modern browser.

    Best viewed with one of these browser instead. It is totally free.

    1. Google Chrome
    2. Mozilla Firefox
    3. Opera
    4. Internet Explorer 9