Client & Colleague Relationship Conversation in Business English

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

Many jobs require the use of business English with clients and colleagues. This lesson highlights a variety of ways business English can be used when building business relationships.

Building Business Relationships

Building successful relationships with clients and colleagues can take years. You will likely have many opportunities to communicate with these individuals in a variety of settings and situations. In each of these scenarios, it's important to use the correct business English vocabulary and phrases.

As you read through the following topics, situations and terminology, be sure to think about how they can be applied to your current professional life and what changes or modifications you can make to the information to better suit your needs.

Accepting and Rejecting Offers

One part of being in business is the task of both accepting and rejecting offers. For example, what do you say if you are offered a job you cannot take? What if a client offers a monetary amount that is too low for the product or service you are providing? Before you read a sample scenario of each of these situations, it can be helpful to review some of the key terms associated with accepting and rejecting an offer.

  • Agree to/accept
  • Turn down/decline
  • Renegotiate
  • Mutually beneficial
  • Best offer
  • Give and take
  • Provide/furnish
  • Make available

Before you look up these terms in a dictionary, try to guess their meanings based on how they are used in the following conversations.

Scenario 1

Hannah Smith is on the phone with a recruiter from Smith & Young, a large accounting firm. The recruiter is offering Hannah a job. However, Hannah has already accepted an offer from another company.

  • Recruiter: I'm pleased to inform you that we'd like to offer you a position in our marketing department.
  • Hannah: I appreciate your offer. Unfortunately, I must decline at this time.
  • Recruiter: That is unfortunate. May I ask why you cannot accept this position?
  • Hannah: To be honest, I've accepted a position at another firm.
  • Recruiter: I understand.

Scenario 2

A few weeks have gone by and Hannah is negotiating advertising rates with a vendor.

  • Vendor: I'm afraid that's our best offer.
  • Hannah: Are you sure? I think it would be mutually beneficial for us to renegotiate.
  • Vendor: I've already provided you with our offer.
  • Hannah: Is there any way we can renegotiate? If there isn't a little more give and take, I'll have to turn down these current terms.
  • Vendor: Let me talk to my manager and get back to you. Okay, my manager said I can lower the price by 15 percent. But that's as far as I can go.
  • Hannah: I accept your offer.

Since you may have to work with a person or organization again in the future, always be honest and polite when rejecting an offer. If you leave a client or colleague with a positive impression, you'll have a better chance of having a successful business relationship with that person in the future.

Making and Declining Invitations

It may sometimes be necessary to extend an invitation to a client or colleague. You may also need to reject a business invitation to an event you are unable to attend. Remember to always be polite if you must reject an invitation so that you can maintain a good relationship with the inviting party.


Hannah Smith has just finished meeting with a few clients. She wants to invite the clients out for a business dinner to improve their relationship with Hannah's company.

  • Hannah: I would be honored if you all could join me and our CEO Peter Jones for dinner this evening.
  • Client 1: That sounds great.
  • Client 2: I'd love to come, but unfortunately I have to catch a flight soon. I'll have to take a rain check.
  • Hannah: I understand. Maybe next time you're in town you'll be able to make it happen.
  • Client 2: Of course.

It's not always necessary to give a reason for declining an invitation. For example, if you have a personal reason such as a family emergency or a medical condition, you do not need to share this information with a client or colleague. It's perfectly acceptable to decline an invitation with one of the following phrases:

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