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Business English Skill Set - Small Talk

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Lesson 2, Topic 4

Accepting or Declining an Invitation

Kate July 25, 2020
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As we’ve seen throughout the course, small talk can open doors, and ultimately you may be presented with offers and/or invitations to events, meetings and more.

Whether the offer is lunch, the email address of a new contact, or a new business partnership, the last thing we want to do is offend when accepting or declining an invitation.

Here we’ll take a look at some diplomatic language to use when accepting or declining offers and invitations.

You can also learn more about how to accept or decline an offer in Lida’s Negotiations Business English Skill Set course.

Expressions for accepting

Look at the list of expressions below. Which do you think are good examples for accepting an offer in a business situation?

  1. That sounds wonderful/great/fantastic!
  2. I’d be delighted to.
  3. Cool yeah, sounds good!
  4. I’d be happy to.
  5. That sounds like a great idea.
  6. Cheers.
  7. Thank you very much, I really appreciate it.

What did you think?

Whilst all the answers are grammatically correct, 3 and 6 are a little too informal and offhand for a business setting.


Expressions for declining

Now look at some expressions for declining. Which ones seem OK to you? Which ones seem rude or too casual?

  1. I’m afraid that doesn’t work for me.
  2. Unfortunately it’s not something I’m looking to pursue right at the moment, but I’ll definitely keep the details on hand for future reference.
  3. Nah, thanks.
  4. Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it.
  5. I’m afraid I’m not available that day/week/time, but I’d love to reschedule for another time!
  6. I can’t do it that day.
  7. I’m busy then.
  8. Unfortunately I’m a bit tied up that day. Could we do it another time?

Again, all the answers are grammatically fine, but 3,6 and 7 would come across as offhand and rude.

When declining an offer, it’s important to give a legitimate or polite reason.

If it is a relationship or offer you’d like to pursue, let them know that you’re disappointed that you won’t be able to make the suggested time, and aim to reschedule for another time.


Activity

Imagine you are at a trade fair or conference for an area of business or topic that interests you. Look at the following sentences. Practise how you would accept or decline the offer or respond to the question/statement and continue with the conversation.

  • “You should get in touch with my colleague, Mark. He’s an expert in that field. I’ll give you his number.”
  • “What do you think of the set-up here?”
  • “Pass on my best regards to Will.”
  • “Let me introduce you to my business partner. She’s just over here.”
  • “I’ve noticed there are a lot of people here from your company.”

Why not practise using these expressions in conversation with a one-to-one class with a teacher?

Book a lesson with a teacher by clicking the button below.