BEP 249 – Strategic Negotiations 3: Countering a Position

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on strategic negotiations. This is actually the third part in our ongoing series on advanced negotiations and follows on from what we covered in BEP 241 and 242.

Business is a competitive game, but companies don’t always have to work against each other. Sometimes they work with each other to form strategic partnerships. By combining forces they can often make more money than they would working alone.

But forming a good partnership isn’t easy. It involves getting together and working out an arrangement that makes sense for both parties. And that means both companies are going to have to give something to get something. This give and take is established in the strategic negotiation, which is what we’ll look at today. We’ll cover some useful techniques for negotiations, including laying out an opening position, presenting a counter position, and emphasizing a deal breaker. We’ll also cover how to use strategic tentativeness and make a strategic threat.

As you may remember, the discussion centers around a US auto parts company called Sigma and NVP, a Japanese distributor, who are trying to establish a strategic partnership. Previously, we heard Mike from Sigma map out a negotiating position with his colleagues back in the US. Now he’s going to call talk to Lisa, who is the lead negotiator for NVP. Through this negotiation, Mike and Lisa are trying to work out a deal for NVP to distribute Sigma’s products in Asia.

One thing you’ll notice is that Lisa is a non-native English speaker with an Asian accent. As a regular listener, you’ll know we like to bring you a variety of spoken accents, because that’s what international business sounds like these days. And perhaps just as important as listening to different native accents, is listening to non-native accents. After all, you may often find that the person on the other end of the phone or across the meeting table is a non-native speaker of English just like you! Let us know what you think by posting a comment on the site.

Listening Questions

1. What part of the deal does Lisa emphasize is essential for her company?
2. Which aspects of business does Mike want to share costs on?
3. What does Mike say at the end of the dialog that might worry Lisa?

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4 thoughts on “BEP 249 – Strategic Negotiations 3: Countering a Position”

  1. One thing you’ll notice about the BEP 249 dialog, is that Lisa is voiced by a non-native English speaker with an Asian accent. As a regular listener, you’ll know we like to bring you a variety of spoken accents, and perhaps just as important as listening to different native accents, is listening to non-native accents. Let us know what you think by posting a comment below.

  2. I think it is a very good idea to bring in non-native speakers sometimes. But for me as an intermediate level learner, Lisa still sounds very close to native speakers. In imagining real business situations, I want to have more significant variation of sounds such as by Indians, Africans, and Frenchmen whose English are sometimes very difficult to get at.

  3. Excellent analysis Osamu… but I think Monika is actually responding to Simone’s earlier comment about Mike, so she is trying to stop the discussion turning into a pointing match. Earlier Simone said, well”¦ I’m a bit concerned by some of the things I see here Michael. Which indicates she might be about to directly criticise Mike. As we explained more fully in the debrief:

    Simone says that Frank “passed on,” or sent, Mike’s email update. And she says she’s a “bit concerned.” It’s clear that she is more than “a bit” concerned, and there’s an indication that she thinks Mike hasn’t done a great job.

    Mike wants Simone to be more specific. He would like to defend himself if necessary. But he doesn’t get a chance to finish his sentence because Monika interrupts. She doesn’t want anyone to be “pointing fingers,” or saying who is at fault. She’d rather talk about what happened and what to do.

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