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Speak Business English Like an American Lesson 30 Idioms and Expressions Test

Speak Business English Like an American Lesson 30 Idioms and Expressions Test

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LESSON 30 – Negotiating a Salary Offer


Donna calls Marina to tell her the good news — she got the job. Marina wisely decides to negotiate for a higher salary.

Donna: Marina, it’s Donna Harris from American Steel Enterprises. I’ve got great news. We’d like to make you an offer.

Marina: That’s fantastic!

Donna: Our HR department will go over the nitty-gritty of the offer with you, but let me give you the big picture now. The base salary will be $45,000.

Marina: I’m really excited about this opportunity. I should mention that I’m weighing another offer with a higher base salary. Is there any room to negotiate?

Donna: What did you have in mind?

Marina: Well, my other offer is for $50,000. Can you match it?

Donna: That’s out of our range. Let’s split the difference. We’ll go up to $47,500.

Marina: Can we say $48,000?

Donna: No, I’m afraid not. Our final offer is $47,500.

Marina: This sounds good, but I’d like to sleep on it. Can I call you back tomorrow?

Donna: Yes, but please touch base with me first thing in the morning so we can get the ball rolling. We’ve got several other candidates interested in the position.

The Next Day…

Marina: Donna, I’ve had a chance to review your offer. I’m going to stand my ground. To accept your offer, I really need $48,000.

Donna: Marina, you drive a hard bargain! But, okay, I think that can be arranged. Can you start on Monday, 9 a.m.?

Marina: That’ll be perfect. See you then!


  • nitty-gritty

 the details

EXAMPLE: I don’t need to know the nitty-gritty of what happened during your meeting with the client. Just tell me the main points.

NOTE: The exact origins of this are unknown. This expression belongs to a class of fun expressions with sounds that repeat themselves. Other such expressions include: wishy-washy (see Lesson 8), itsy-bitsy (very small), fuddy-duddy (a boring, old-fashioned person), and mish-mash (a strange combination of things).

  • the big picture

 a summary; an overview; the most important points

EXAMPLE: Let me start off this presentation by giving you the big picture of what’s happening now in our industry.

  • (to) weigh another offer

 to consider another offer, usually a job offer

EXAMPLE: Brian told Pfizer he was weighing another offer and that he would give them an answer next week.

  • Is there any room to negotiate?

 Is it possible to negotiate? Are you flexible about the offer?

EXAMPLE: Your offer is a little lower than I had hoped for. Is there any room to negotiate?

  • (to) have in mind

 to be thinking of

EXAMPLE: Kyle said he wanted to go somewhere exotic for this year’s company offsite. Do you know where he had in mind?

  • out of one’s range

 more than one wants to pay

EXAMPLE: PlastiCase Industries tried to sell us the cases for five dollars each, but we told them that was out of our range.

  • (to) split the difference

 to accept a figure halfway in between; to compromise

EXAMPLE: You’re asking for $500 for this used office chair, but we only budgeted $300 for it. Let’s split the difference and say $400.

  • (to) sleep on it

 to think about a decision overnight; to take a day to decide on something

EXAMPLE: Thanks for your offer, but I’m not sure I want to move from the marketing department to the sales department. Let me sleep on it.

  • (to) touch base with

 to get in contact with; to make brief contact with

EXAMPLE: “Hi, it’s Andy calling from City Style magazine. I’m just touching base with you to see if you want to buy an ad.”

  • first thing in the morning

 early in the morning

EXAMPLE: If the report isn’t ready by the time you leave this evening, please have it on my desk first thing in the morning.

  • (to) get the ball rolling

 to get started

EXAMPLE: If the toy company wants to have their new line of mini-robots out by the holiday season, they’d better get the ball rolling now.

  • (to) review an offer

 to think about an offer; to consider an offer

EXAMPLE: After reviewing your offer carefully, I’ve decided to take a job with another company.

  • (to) stand one’s ground

 to maintain and defend one’s position; to refuse to give up one’s position

EXAMPLE: Earthy Foods wanted to open a large grocery store in the historic downtown area, but the small town stood its ground and refused to let them build there.

  • (to) drive a hard bargain

 to be tough in negotiating an agreement; to negotiate something in one’s favor

EXAMPLE: We don’t usually offer such a big discount on our products, but you drove a hard bargain.

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