Learn Negotiation Skills to Improve Your English

Globalisation is bringing humanity closer together. Advances in transport, travel, trade, and technology have resulted in increased connections between nations. For teachers, it’s important to equip ESL students to engage with their English-speaking peers.

Teaching negotiation skills can prepare your ESL students to express themselves. An ESL-centric negotiation seminar can equip students to make better deals in and out of a trade setting. Some skills to teach include:

Prioritise Preparation

Discussions in any language stand a better chance of success if the participants are well prepared. Negotiation seminar leaders advise against rushing into talks without preparation. For instance, it’s important for buyers to assess a commodity’s suitability. When selling, knowing your target market means you can make savvier decisions.

Preparation is even more vital in the case of ESL negotiators. An unprepared negotiator will often have to think on the spot. This rarely leads to optimal decision-making. For ESL students, thinking under pressure is complicated by a potential language barrier. Making effective decisions on top of analysing their own and the other negotiator’s words can be hard.

Teach the importance of conducting research to your students. ESL students can benefit from preparations with special attention to cultural and language differences.

Students can prepare by considering their own position in advance. In addition, students can research the other negotiator to find out what they hope to get out of the deal. Assist ESL students to apply logic to discover what outcomes best serve their needs and those of the other negotiator. What are the possible scenarios if the other negotiator doesn’t get their way?

Emphasise Listening Skills

Speaking English doesn’t come naturally to many ESL students. Understanding localised language features such as slang and idioms can be a challenge.

To reduce the chances of not understanding or not being understood, ESL students often have to work hard at listening to native English speakers. Listening leads to a deeper understanding of the other person’s needs.

Listening can create mutual respect and build trust. As part of listening, ESL students can practice echoing or mirroring. Encourage students to repeat back what their discussion partner says. Students can also rephrase in their own words what they hear to show understanding.

For example, if one person says, “I will sell you this car for $8,000 with new upholstering and a fresh coat of paint.”

The other person can echo by saying, “Okay, so you will paint the car, repair the seats, then I can come to buy the car for $8,000?”

Refine Reading Skills

Most formal talks involve some writing. Encourage ESL students to read English language publications often. Reading practice can improve students’ English skills, including vocabulary. Reading regularly is likely to improve ESL students’ grasp of the intricacies of English.

Providing follow-up tests can further improve your students’ English reading and writing skills.

Focus on Mutual Benefits

In some cultures, people may not be used to making joint decisions. In countries where religious and political leaders dictate public life, a patriarchal figure may make decisions in the home.

Some cultures value obedience and subservience more than the expression of personal opinions. Appreciate that some students may initially approach negotiation as a confrontational interaction.

Teach your students that negotiations in English are usually about positive relationship-building. Let your students know that it’s alright to express differing opinions.

Prepare your students to understand how to claim value, make concessions, and make counteroffers. Activities that build confidence, such as simulations to boost self-expression, are useful ways to prepare students for real-world negotiations.

Navigate Objections

Some people may view an objection on a feature or other single item as an outright rejection. In extreme cases, some people may see an objection as a personal insult. It’s important for ESL students to understand that objections form the basis of value exchanges.

Objections can help provide a better solution for the other person’s problems. An objection can lead to a better understanding of the situation. In turn, this can lead to claiming better value.

Hold a seminar focusing on how to handle objections. Objections should be treated as signposts to navigate your way through, as you learn how to make changes that satisfy everyone. Explore how objections can mean getting more out of a deal.

ESL students should see objecting as an essential tool for building lasting relationships. Students also shouldn’t be afraid to say “no” to an unfavourable deal. Teach your students that, in English-speaking negotiations, an objection will not necessarily sever bonds. Also, accepting a damaging agreement will not protect the other person’s honour or spare feelings.

Confirm Closure

It’s vital for students to learn to not leave open ends. Whether or not an agreement is reached, it’s crucial to recap the negotiation.

Teach ESL students the skills needed to wrap up a discussion. When an ESL negotiator can confirm what was said, what was agreed to, and points of disagreement, they show full comprehension.

For business talks, it’s essential to follow up with written correspondence such as an email. Some courteous expressions ESL students will likely find useful include:

– It’s been a pleasure…
– Let’s keep in touch…
– Thanks for your time…


Discussions in a foreign language can be challenging. For ESL students, negotiating in English may present language challenges as well as cultural differences. Teachers have a vital role in teaching their students’ persuasion skills. Support your students to be prepared, handle objections, and close negotiations.

Author bio: Christine Ellis holds a master’s degree in linguistics and holds a position of Content Editor. Christine oversees the cultivation of creative content and enjoys building relationships with owners of quality blogs and sites across the globe. Christine’s passions include studying modernist literature and linguistics, which she uses to inspire her writing style.