THE IDIOM CONNECTION
accept an offer
- to agree to an offer or proposalI accepted the offer to buy my car.
- something that can be gained or lostThere was much at stake during the negotiations between the nurses and the government.
back down (from something)
- to yield in one's position during negotiations, to not continue with a threat to do somethingThe government backed down on their threat to give less money to the school district.
back out (of something)
- to get out of an agreement, to fail to keep a promiseThe property developer backed out of the plan to build the new apartment building.
ball is in (someone's) court
- it is the decision of another person or group to do somethingThe ball is in the union's court after the company made their final offer.
beat around the bush
- to talk about something without giving a direct answerThe manager was beating around the bush and never said anything important.
blow a deal
- to ruin a business deal with someoneWe are working hard so that we do not blow the deal with our new customer.
- to slow down and make no progress (a bog is an area of land that is wet and muddy - like a swamp)The negotiations bogged down over the issue of part-time workers.
bone of contention
- the subject or reason for a fight or disputeThe size of the project was a bone of contention between the city and the developer.
- to fail, to stopThe negotiations broke down last night when both sides refused to compromise.
break off (something) or break (something) off
- to stop or end suddenlyThe government decided to break off talks about extending the trade agreement.
- to be successful after overcoming a difficultyWe were able to break through in our efforts to find a solution to the problem.
- a success that comes after overcoming a difficultyThere was a breakthrough in the talks to end the teacher's strike.
bring off (something) or bring (something) off
- to achieve somethingWe were unable to bring off a deal to buy the new computer system for our company.
bring (someone) to terms
- to make someone agree to something or do somethingThe government worked hard to bring the two sides to terms.
bring (something) to the table
- to have something to offer during a negotiationWe were able to bring a new offer to the table during the negotiations.
bring up (something) or bring ( something) up
- to begin a discussion about something, to mention somethingI tried to bring up the subject of sales commissions during the meeting.
call off (something) or call (something) off
- to stop or quit or cancel somethingWe called off the meeting because everybody was busy.
call (someone's) bluff
- to try to make someone prove that they can actually do what they say they canThe government called the union's bluff when the union threatened to go on strike.
call the shots
- to be in chargeDuring the meeting the vice-president was calling the shots.
cave in to (someone or something)
- to weaken and be forced to give upThe company was forced to cave in to the demands of the workers for more money.
close a deal
- to end a negotiation successfullyWe had to work hard but we were finally able to close the deal.
- to unite and fight togetherDuring the meeting we closed ranks and refused to compromise on any issue.
come back with an offer
- to return to negotiations with a new offerWe came back with a new offer and the negotiations continued smoothly.
come down in price
- to lower the price of one's productWe decided to come down in price and try and sell our products quickly.
come in high
- to charge too much for your services, to ask for a price that is too highThe salesman came in high during the negotiations and could not sell his product.
come in low
- to offer a low amount of money for a product or serviceThe company came in low with an offer for our product.
come to terms
- to reach an agreementAfter negotiating all night the government and the company came to terms on an arrangement for the new water system.
come up in a discussion
- to become a subject in a discussionNothing related to the issue of quality came up in the discussion.
come up with (an idea or something)
- to produce or find a thought or idea or answerMy boss was happy when I came up with some good ideas during the meeting.
- shared beliefs or interestsThere was no common ground between the two sides and the negotiations did not go well.
consider an offer
- to think about an offer or proposalThe man considered the offer to buy his car.
continue down to the wire
- to near a deadline, to have little time remainingThe negotiations continued down to the wire but they ended successfully.
- to talk about the important facts and details of somethingThe questions were endless and we were unable to cover much ground during the meeting.
cut a deal
- to make an agreement, to make a deal or arrangementWe cut a deal and left the meeting in a positive mood.
cut (someone) off or cut off (someone)
- to stop someone from saying something, to interrupt someoneMy friend cut me off when I was speaking.
down to the wire
- near a deadline, with little time remainingThey went down to the wire but the two sides finally agreed to a new contract.
- to be prolonged, to continue for a long timeThe talks between the company and the lawyers dragged on for several weeks.
drag one's heels
- to act slowly or reluctantlyThe government dragged their heels in talks with the union about the new contract.
draw the line
- to set a limit about what will be done or discussedThe union was flexible on the salary issue but they drew the line at talking about health benefits.
draw up (something) or draw (something) up
- to put something (a contract or a plan) in writingThe lawyers drew up a contract for the new housing development on the government land.
drive a hard bargain
- to bargain hard and try to make an agreement to one's advantageThe sales manager drives a hard bargain and it is difficult to negotiate with him.
drive at (something)
- to mean something, to want to say somethingI could not understand what the other negotiators in the meeting were driving at.
drop the price (of something)
- to lower the price of somethingWe dropped the price of our product during the negotiation.
face down (someone) or face (someone) down
- to confront someone boldlyThe government decided to face down the striking transportation workers.
- to fail, to be ruined, to not happenThe deal for the new machinery fell through and we will have to look for another supplier.
- equally, evenlyWe shared the profits with the other company fifty-fifty.
follow through on/with (something)
- to finish an action, to keep a promiseOur boss said that wages would improve soon but he never followed through with his promise.
force (someone's) hand
- to make someone do something that they do not want to do at that timeWe decided to force our opponent's hand because we wanted to finish the negotiations quickly.
- an agreement that is not written down but is made by two people or two groups who trust each otherI made a gentlemen's agreement with the carpenter to build some new furniture.
get behind (a person or idea)
- to support a person or ideaAlthough we did not agree with the manager we got behind his proposal at the meeting.
get down to brass tacks
- to begin the work or business that must be done"Let's get down to brass tacks and begin talking about the new contract."
get down to business
- to start working or doing the business at handWe must get down to business and finish our work quickly.
get the ball rolling
- to start an activity or actionWe should get the ball rolling and begin the meeting at once.
get the message
- to understand clearly what someone meansI do not think that the opposite side got the message about where the negotiations are heading.
get the raw end of the deal
- to do badly in a negotiation or a similar situationI got the raw end of the deal when I received my new work schedule.
get to first base
- to make a good start, to succeedWe have not been able to get to first base regarding the terms of the new contract.
get to the bottom of (something)
- to discover or understand the real cause of somethingIt will be difficult to get to the bottom of the financial problems in the company.
get to the heart of (something)
- to find the most important facts or central meaning of somethingWe spent the morning trying to get to the heart of the problem with the computer supplier.
give a little
- to compromise during a negotiationWe know that we must give a little if we want to complete the negotiations.
give and take (give-and-take)
- to share, to give up part of what you want in order to make an agreementAfter much give and take we reached an agreement regarding the property transfer.
give away the farm
- to offer too much during a negotiationI tried not to give away the farm during the negotiation.
- to move back or retreat from one's positionWe bargained hard but the other sales representative refused to give ground.
give in to (someone)
- to do what another person wants rather than to fight and argue with him or herAfter eight weeks of negotiations we gave in and agreed to sell the machinery at a discount.
go back on (something)
- to not be faithful or loyal to one's word or an agreementThe company directors went back on their word to give the employees a salary increase.
go back to square one
- to go back to the beginningThe meeting was a failure and we were forced to go back to square one.
go back to the drawing board
- to go back and start something from the beginningThe negotiations failed so we had to go back to the drawing board and start over.
go down to the wire
- to near a deadline, to have little time remainingThe negotiations went down to the wire last night.
go for broke
- to risk everything on one big effort, to try as hard as possibleAfter going for broke at the meeting we were able to reach an agreement.
go over like a lead balloon
- to fail to generate a positive responseThe sales manager's proposal went over like a lead balloon at the meeting
go over well
- to be liked or successfulMy idea about employee evaluations went over well with the new manager.
hammer out (an agreement or a deal)
- to negotiate a deal or agreement by discussion and debateThe negotiations lasted all night but finally we were able to hammer out an agreement.
hang in the balance
- to have two equally possible results, to be uncertainThe outcome of the election was hanging in the balance after the top candidates had an equal number of votes.
- to be very strict, to be stubborn, to be uncompromisingThe negotiatiors were hard-nosed during the talks for a new contract.
have a card up one's sleeve
- to hide something of valueI thought that the negotiations would not succeed but my boss had a card up his sleeve that we did not know about.
have a poker face
- to not show any reaction or emotionOur boss had a poker face when he told us that our office would soon close.
hold all the aces/cards/trumps
- to have all of the advantagesThe management group was holding all the aces during the meeting with the union.
hold out for (something)
- to keep resisting or refuse to give up until you get the desired resultsThe union is holding out for a better deal and they do not plan to end their strike.
hold out on (someone)
- to refuse to give information or something to someone who has a right to itThe new manager has been holding out on the company and he will not tell anyone his plans.
- to make a business agreement or deal after careful bargaining and compromiseAfter several hours of horse-trading we reached an agreement to buy the new computers.
in the bag
- to be certainThe contract for the new insurance policy is in the bag.
ink a deal
- sign a contractThe company inked a deal to buy the new product.
iron (something) out or iron out (something)
- to solve a problemWe spent several hours ironing out the final details of the contract.
knock down the price of (something)
- to decrease a priceThe department store has knocked down the price of many of their products.
lay one's cards on the table
- to be open and honest about one's intentionsOur boss laid his cards on the table during the meeting.
make a concession
- to change your position in favor of the other person/side when you are negotiatingThe union made a big concession in their negotiations with their company.
make an offer
- to make a financial or other proposal for a product or serviceI will make an offer and try to buy the house that I like.
- to make progressWe are bargaining hard and making headway with the new agreement.
meet (someone) halfway
- to compromise with someoneThe price for the truck was too high but we met the salesman halfway and made an agreement to buy it.
nail down the terms of an agreement
- to discuss and agree on the terms of a contractWe must try and nail down the terms of the agreement at the meeting tomorrow.
nail (something) down or nail down (something)
- to make certain or sureWe nailed down an agreement to build the staff room as quickly as possible.
off the record
- to be not published or revealed, to be a secretI told my boss off the record that I would probably not return after the summer holiday.
paint oneself into a corner
- to get into a bad situation that is difficult or impossible to escapeThe negotiations became easier when the other side painted themselves into a corner.
play hardball (with someone)
- to act strong and aggressive with someoneThe union played hardball during the contract talks.
play into (someone's) hands
- to do something that another person can use against youOur manager played into the hands of the other side when he became angry during the meeting.
play one's ace
- to use one's best resource (the ace is the most powerful card), to use all of one's powerI played my ace when I asked my boss for more money.
play one's cards close to one's chest
- to be secretive and cautious about somethingMy colleague was playing his cards close to his chest when he began to talk to our competitor.
pull (something) off or pull off (something)
- to succeed in doing something difficult or impossibleThe contract seemed impossible to win but we pulled it off through our skillful negotiating.
pull (something) out of a hat
- to get something as if by magic, to invent something, to imagine somethingThe problem was difficult but somehow we were able to pull a solution out of a hat.
put one's cards on the table
- to be open and honest about one's intentionsWe put our cards on the table and tried to solve the problem.
raise the ante
- to increase what is at stake or under discussion in a dispute or conflictThe small country raised the ante in the trade dispute with the other countries.
a raw deal
- treatment that is not fairThe sales manager received a raw deal when he was forced to give up his former position.
reach a compromise
- to achieve a compromise with someoneThe company tried very hard to reach a compromise with the workers.
reach a deal
- to complete or make a dealThe company reached a deal with their supplier.
reach a stalemate
- to arrive at a position where no progress is being madeThe talks to buy the new computers have reached a stalemate and it will be difficult to start them again.
reach an agreement
- to complete or make an agreementThe supplier and the buyer reached an agreement about the new product.
reach an impasse
- to get to a point where progress is impossibleThe negotiations on where to build the new bridge have reached an impasse.
reach first base
- to make a good start, to succeedWe were unable to reach first base in the discussions.
read between the lines
- to understand the meaning of something by guessing what is not saidThe salesman did not say that no products were available but we could read between the lines and we knew that there were none available.
- the lowest price that one can offer to buy somethingThe buyer made a rock-bottom offer to buy our product.
- a change from better to worse, a delay, a reversalThe bad weather was a setback in our efforts to get the material delivered on time.
smooth (something) over or smooth over (something)
- to make something seem better or less severeWe tried to smooth over the problems between the two managers.
stack the deck against (someone)
- to trick someone, to arrange things unfairly (a deck is a deck of cards)The manager stacked the deck against his opponent when he went into the meeting.
stand one's ground
- to maintain and defend one's positionThe other negotiating team was very aggressive but we stood our ground and bargained hard.
start the ball rolling
- to begin an activity or actionI will start the ball rolling by making some telephone calls to my coworkers.
stick to one's guns
- to defend an action or opinion despite an unfavorable reactionWe stuck to our guns during the meeting and asked for more time to consider the proposal.
- something that prevents or obstructs progressThe salary issue was a stumbling block in the negotiations between the company and the union.
sweeten the deal
- to offer something during a negotiation that is attractive to the other sideWe sweetened the deal during the negotiations in order to win the new contract.
- to join one group against another in a debate or quarrelI did not take sides in the discussion about buying a new computer.
talk (someone) into (something)
- to get someone to agree to something, to persuade someone to do somethingWe were unable to talk the other members of our team into delaying the meeting until next week.
talk (someone) out of (something)
- to persuade someone not to do somethingI tried to talk our sales manager out of offering a price for the product that was too low.
talk (something) over or talk over (something)
- to discuss somethingWe asked for some time during the meeting to talk over the new proposal.
throw (someone) a curve
- to mislead or deceive someoneThe purchasing manager threw us a curve when he said that he would not need any of our products until next year.
to the letter
- exactly, nothing done wrong or left undone, perfectlyThe union representative followed the contract agreement to the letter.
- something that is kept back to be used to win success if nothing else worksAlthough we appeared weak during the negotiations we had some new information to use as our trump card.
turn thumbs down on (something)
- to reject somethingThe other negotiating team turned thumbs down on our wish to postpone the meeting until tomorrow.
under the wire
- at the very last momentWe were able to send the documents to the lawyer under the wire.
- to sell your product for less than a competitorThe new discount store is trying hard to undercut other stores in the area.
up the ante
- to increase what is at stake or under discussion in a dispute or conflictThe union upped the ante in their dispute with the company.
water (something) down or water down (something)
- to change and make something weakerThe manager tried to water down our proposal for the new quality control system.
wheel and deal
- to negotiate to buy and sell something (often in a way that is very close to being dishonest or illegal)The salesman likes to wheel and deal with his customers.
wind up (something) or wind (something) up
- to end, to finish, to stopWe would like to wind up the meeting early tomorrow.
wrap up (something) or wrap (something) up
- to finish something (a job, a meeting etc.)We wrapped up the meeting and went home for the weekend.