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English Club : Learn English : Business English : Negotiations in English : Settlement

Coming to a Close or Settlement

There are a number of signals that indicate that negotiations are coming to a close. This may not always mean that an agreement has been reached. In many cases, there are many rounds of negotiations. The preliminary round may uncover the major issues, while subsequent rounds may be needed to discuss and resolve them. Here are some signals of talks coming to a close:

  • A difference of opinion has been significantly reduced
  • One party suggests signing an agreement.
  • One or both parties indicate that a period of time to pause and reflect is necessary.

Beware of last-minute strong-arm tactics.

Even if you make the decision to treat your negotiating opponent with honesty and kindness, the other party may not extend you the same respect. Be prepared to stand your ground firmly, yet cordially, especially in the last few minutes of the negotiations. This is the time when manipulative parties may employ certain tactics in order to try to fool you into losing focus or lowering goals and standards. Remember that conflicts are generally resolved in the last few minutes. The theory behind last minute tactics is that one party may be more willing to give in out of fear that all of the concessions or progress made up to that point (perhaps hours or weeks of talks) might be lost. People also get tired or have other commitments that need to be met, such as making an important phone call before another business closes, or picking up children from school. Here are some last minutes tricks that negotiators often use at this time:

  • Walking out of the room
  • Offering a short-term bribe
  • Telling you to take it or leave it
  • Giving an ultimatum
  • Abrupt change in tone (used to shock the other party into submission)
  • Introducing new requests (used at to get you to concede with little thought or consideration)
  • Stating generalizations without evidence (dropped without significant statistics/proof)
  • Adopting the Mr. Nice Guy persona (used to try to make it look like they are doing you a favour in hopes that you will lower your expectations)

Language to use in closing

  • It sounds like we've found some common ground.
  • I'm willing to leave things there if you are.
  • Let's leave it this way for now.
  • I'm willing to work with that.
  • I think we both agree to these terms.
  • I'm satisfied with this decision.
  • I think we should get this in writing.
  • I'd like to stop and think about this for a little while.
  • You've given me a lot to think about/consider.
  • Would you be willing to sign a contract right now?
  • Let's meet again once we've had some time to think.

Louis Signals an End to the Negotiations and Attempts some Last-minute Tactics

Louis: Look, we're running out of time here and I've barely had a bite of my lunch.

Markus: I know, and we have a lot of work to get done this afternoon.

Louis: Well, I guess we'll have to settle this at another time.

Markus: Actually, I'd really like to get this settled today. I know how busy you are, and it's not easy to get you to sit down and talk.

Louis: (standing up and getting ready to walk out of the room) Well, we're not getting anywhere.

Markus: Please sit down for a few more minutes so we can make a decision.

Louis:And what if I don't? Are you going to quit?

Markus: I am a loyal employee, and I believe that it is in the best of both of our interests to have this conflict resolved. This should only take a few more minutes.

Louis: Fine. You can be the foreman. I'll even change the title on your pay stub. But no raise.

Markus: I think you and I both know, that the raise is more important to me than the title itself.

Louis: You know, not very many owners would agree to give a person like you the title of foreman. You don't even have your proper certification.

Markus:You've said before that experience means more to you than education. Remember that guy Samuel that you hired. He had a four year diploma in landscape design but had never worked a day out on the fields. You let him go before his probation was up.

Louis: Oh, don't remind me of that kid.

Markus: Look, I'd be willing to accept $24.00/hr, if you agree to review my salary again come spring.

Louis Fine. I guess, that's fair. You are my best employee, right now at least.

Markus: Great, then, you won't mind changing my status to crew foreman. I won't disappoint you. Remember, I'm willing to take on the extra duties of a foreman, which will give you more time to find new clients.

Louis: Speaking of new clients. I'm expecting an important phone call in ten minutes, so let's wrap this up.

Markus: Well, I think we've both agreed on the terms. Can we shake on it? I mean, can I have your word that my new hourly wage will begin at the beginning of next month?(Markus holds out his hand.)

Louis: (Louis shakes it.) Okay, Mr. Foreman. Get back to work, would you. And, I'll need you to order all of the supplies for Monday.

Markus: Thanks, Louis. I'll get on that right now.

Formalize the agreement/negotiation

In most business negotiations it is a good idea to get something down in writing. Even if a decision has not been made, a letter of intent to continue the negotiations is often used. This is a way for each party to guarantee that talks will continue. A letter of intent often outlines the major issues that will be discussed in future negoatiations. In some cases a confidentiality agreement is also necessary. This is a promise from both parties to keep information private between discussions. When an agreement has been decided, a formal contract may be required. On the other hand, depending on the seriousness of the decision, and the level of trust between the two parties, a simple handshake and verbal agreement may be all that is needed. For example, an employer may offer a promotion and an employee may trust that the new salary will be reflected on the next paycheque. However, even if nothing is put formally in writing, it is wise to send an e-mail or letter that verifies the terms and puts the agreement on record, especially when a specific number is decided on.

Sample E-mail:

To: louis@landscapelabourers.com
From: markus@landscapelabourers.com
Subject: Today's Negotiation
Attachment: Site #345

Hi Louis
I just wanted to write and thank you for spending your lunch hour with me today. I'm pleased with how our talks went and am excited to take on my new role as crew foreman. Even though my new salary will not be put in place until the first of next month, I will begin my new duties immediately. The supplies for Monday's job (Site #345) have all been ordered, and the total of the invoice will be $349.98, including tax and delivery. The crew has been assigned their tasks for Monday so we will be able to start as soon as we arrive. You will find a chart attached outlining who will be taking care of what and how long it should take us to have it completed. If you have any concerns, feel free to call me at home over the weekend. Thanks again,
Markus

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