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Negotiation letters basic overview example

In negotiation, you need to be careful what you say, and when you say it. Negotiation is both easier and more difficult when in writing.

It's easier because the proposals are set out clearly, it's more difficult, because the physical aspects of verbal negotiation are absent. You have to work with what you've got.

Negotiations, in essence, are a series of proposals. The secondary stage is dealing with acceptance and / or rejection of proposals. This stage can be so complex that doing all that in writing is a lot clearer, if not quick.

The basics of negotiation letters:

  • Use plain language.
  • Use clear figures and facts.
  • Lay out the letter so it's easy to read and information is easy to find.
  • Use headings for readability.
  • Use attachments as appendices, also set out for readability, for more complex or lengthy information. Refer to these attachments in context in your letter.
  • Where calculations are involved, these must be separate, preferably as an appendix, and clearly readable.
  • Double check all proposals for accuracy. You're going in writing, making a commitment in theory. If you have to back out later, you won't look good.
  • Include a synopsis of your proposals. This is a very simple, effective format.


  • Include any extraneous materials whatever.
  • Use complex information in the body of other text. Keep it separate.
  • Use metaphors, ambiguities, or indirect references. It can skew meanings.
  • Use lengthy sentences or dense masses of text. It makes some letters unreadable.
  • Use unduly technical jargon, or other forms of language which aren't plain language.

Content quality

As you can see, the style for negotiation letters is based on fundamental business letters, with some elements of report writing in the format.

Generally the tone of a negotiation letter is based on the diplomatic writing style. Substance, however, is more important.

  • Use facts constructively but clearly. Don't be merely diplomatic when making a substantive point.
  • Assume you're writing to a trained negotiator, who is trained to take apart and analyze information.
  • Don't try and spin facts into something they aren't with 'diplomacy'. It won't work, and undermines the credibility of your proposals.

The example below relates to an extremely complex negotiation process. Note that the letter is written specifically to simplify reading and access to information and proposals.

The reader's attention must be engaged by the letter. Note that the letter itself is kept brief and to the point, and the content is all separated for easier access. A single letter containing all this information would be about eight pages long, at least.


Business letterhead


Your reference
Our reference


Proposals for contract of supply of materials

Submitted for your consideration are proposals for costing and delivery related to the above contract.

Synopsis of proposals:

  • Materials can be provided at 20% reduced cost based on volumes and implementation of the contract business model (Appendix A) attached.
  • Delivery and distribution of materials is available at a 25% discount rate to standard charges based on volumes purchased. (See Appendix B.)
  • These models have been subjected to a cost benefit analysis, (Appendix C) and appear to contain substantial savings to your firm.

We believe these proposals to be a reasonable business model for the contract.

We await your comments. Please contact the writer directly if you require further information or supporting documentation.

Yours sincerely



Please note:

  • This text is intended for advisory and guideline purposes only.
  • Any business letter can become a legal document, so check your content properly before issuing.
  • Any executable or statutorily defined document should be checked for compliance with legal requirements, and you should seek legal advice regarding its contents.

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