If business negotiations are described as above board, they are open, honest and legal.
“There are no secret negotiations. Our dealings have always been above board.”
have an ace up your sleeve
If you have an ace up your sleeve, you have something in reserve with which you can gain an advantage.
“I’m well prepared for the negotiations. I’ve got an ace up my sleeve.”
hold all the aces
A person or company who holds all the aces is in a very strong position because they have more advantages than anyone else.
“With low production costs and excellent transport facilities, they seem to be holding all the aces.”
back to square one
To say that someone is back to square one means that they have not succeeded in what they were trying to do, so they have to start again.
“When they refused the terms of the contract, it was back to square one for the negotiators.”
(have your) back to the wall
If you have your back to the wall, you are in serious difficulty.
“With his back to the wall, the supplier had to accept the deal.”
beggars can’t be choosers
This expression means that you should not reject an offer if it is the only possibility you have. You have to be satisfied with what you get because you have no choice.
“They let me sleep on their sofa. I would have preferred a bed but beggars can’t be choosers!’
bend over backwards
If you bend over backwards, you try very hard to do something, especially to please somebody.
“The director bent over backwards to try and persuade them to accept our proposal.”
bide your time
If you bide your time, you wait for a good opportunity to do something.
“He’s not hesitating, he’s just biding his time, waiting for the price to drop.”
If you give someone a blank cheque, you authorize them to do what they think is best in a difficult situation.
“Tom was given a blank cheque and told to negotiate the best deal possible.”
bone of contention
A bone of contention is a matter or subject about which there is a lot of disagreement.
“The salaries have been agreed on, but opening on Sundays is still a bone of contention.”
bring nothing to the table
If you participate in negotiations and bring nothing to the table, you have nothing of interest to offer the other side.
“We’ll never reach an agreement if we bring nothing to the table.”
clinch a deal
In a business relationship, if you clinch a deal, you reach agreement on a proposal or offer.
“Paul’s final argument enabled us to clinch the deal.”
drive a hard bargain
A person who drives a hard bargain always makes sure they gain advantage in a business deal.
“Be prepared for tough negotiations with Dan. He drives a hard bargain.”
keep someone posted
If someone asks you to keep them posted, they want you to keep them informed about a situation.
“Our agent promised to keep us posted on developments in the negotiations.”
leave the door open
If you leave the door open, you behave in such a way as to allow the possibility of further action.
“Both parties left the door open for further negotiations.”
leave no stone unturned
If you try everything possible in order to achieve something, you leave no stone unturned.
“The management left no stone unturned in their efforts to reach an agreement.”
If you meet someone half way, you accept to make a compromise and give them part of what they are trying to obtain.
“We can’t agree to all your conditions but we could perhaps agree to meet half-way.”
(get down to) nitty-gritty
When people get down to the nitty-gritty, they begin to discuss the most important points or the practical details.
“I was interested in the project, but we didn’t get down to the nitty-gritty until his partner arrived.”
play your cards right
If you play your cards right, you do all that is necessary in order to succeed or to obtain what you want.
“If we play our cards right, we’ll get the contract.”
play for time
If you play for time, you try to delay or prevent something from happening in order to gain an advantage.
“He decided to play for time in the hope that the price would decrease.”
prepare the ground
When you prepare the ground, you try to make it easier for a future event or action to happen or be accepted.
“The two foreign ministers prepared the ground for negotiations.”
sell ice to Eskimos
This expression is used to describe a person who has the ability
to persuade someone to accept something totally unnecessary or useless.
“It’s not surprising he was named ‘salesman of the year’. He could sell ice to Eskimos!”
sign on the dotted line
If you sign on the dotted line, you formally give your consent to something by signing an official document.
“I consulted a lawyer before signing on the dotted line.”
signed, sealed, and delivered
When an agreement, contract or treaty is signed, sealed and delivered, all the legal documents are in order.
“It is hoped that the agreement will be signed, sealed and delivered before the end of the week.”
skating on thin ice
If you are skating on thin ice, you are doing or saying something that could cause disagreement or trouble.
“Don’t mention that subject during the negotiations or you could be skating on thin ice.”
A sticking point is a controversial issue that causes an interruption or blocks progress in discussions or negotiations.
“The choice of distributor was a sticking point in the negotiations.”
take stock of the situation
If you take stock of a situation you assess all the aspects in order to form an opinion.
“He took time to take stock of the situation before making a suggestion.”
turn on/up the heat
If you turn on or up the heat on someone, you put pressure on them in order to obtain what you want.
“If the goods are not delivered this week, we’ll have to turn up the heat.”