Intermediate word of the day: negotiations

Negotiations happen when different people or organisations both want one thing to happen – they want to form a government, start a business, end a war together, and so on – but they also have different needs or aims that the other side in the negotiation do not want – to put up taxes, to be the main boss, to have some power or protection, etc. In the negotiations, you sit and talk together and try to agree on how to get what you both want. Hopefully, the negotiations go well (or smoothly) and you reach an agreement quickly and all sides are happy. More often, though, negotiations are hard-going, they’re tough. They take a long time. At some point, one side may accuse the other of not being prepared to be flexible or being unrealistic in their demands. At this point, they will often walk out of the talks – or walk away from the negotiating table – and the negotiations break down. After this, it’s possible that another person or organisation – a mediator – might be asked to talk to each side and persuade them to come back to the negotiating table and restart negotiations. For negotiations to then be successful, both sides will have to compromise, there has to be some give and take: you give the other side what they want (we also say you make concessions), and in return you get something that want from them.

Having said that, in some negotiations, one side is obviously stronger, and they can force the other side to make more concessions so the final agreement benefits them more. In this situation, we sometimes that they drive a hard bargain.

Cover the text. What do you remember?

  • Say as many reasons as you can where there are negotiations.
  • What adjectives can describe negotiations?
  • Say three ways you can complete this phrase – The negotiations are going
  • Why else might people walk out of a meeting or might negotiations break down?
  • What needs to happen for negotiations to work?

Read about one negotiation in the news
Obviously, the biggest negotiations in the UK news at the moment are the Brexit negotiations. According to the UK government, the negotiations are going quite well, although they think the EU could be more flexible. However, the EU seems to think negotiations are going rather slowly, because the UK is being unrealistic, Basically, the government doesn’t want to pay any money and wants a free trade deal like it has already as part of the EU. It seems to me that the EU is in a stronger position and can drive a hard bargain. Before the recent election, the government said it would walk out of negotiations rather than make big concessions “No deal is better than a bad deal” is what the Conservative Party said, but most people think that would be a disaster.


  • What do you think? Who is stronger in the EU negotiations? What will happen?
  • Have you heard of any other negotiations recently? What for? What happened / is happening?
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