Engoo Blog Business & Work

7 English Expressions for Making Demands Politely

7 English Expressions for Making Demands Politely

Do you know the verb "insist"? It means refusing to accept an outcome different from what you want. In some cases, it could mean strongly requesting or demanding something. In others, it could mean repeatedly saying "no" to the requests of others. This may sound quite rude, but it doesn't always have to be.

Sometimes, such as when serving guests, insisting may actually be polite. And in the business world, when plans and prices are sensitive, it may not be possible to accept changes or alternative suggestions.

So how can you insist while still being polite? This article will introduce several ways to do exactly that.

I must insist

Businesspeople discussing a deal in an office

This is the most straightforward way to make a strong request of your conversation partner. It's bold but still polite. 

I must insist that we meet to discuss the project's status.
I must insist that you let us pay the bill for dinner.

I can’t budge

"Budge" is a verb meaning "to move slightly." It is used literally when talking about very heavy objects and figuratively for difficult points in negotiations.

If you are unable to budge, it means that you cannot or will not change something such as a price or other details of an agreement.

We'll need delivery by January 31. I'm afraid we can't budge on that date.
I'm sorry, but $1000 is the most I can pay, and I can't budge on that (amount).

As far as I can go

If you've reached your limit on something, you can use this expression to politely express it.

We can offer a 10% discount, but that's as far as we can go.

"Far" can be changed to "high," "low" or other adjectives that are appropriate for the situation.

After discussing it with my supervisor, $30 per pound is as low as I can go.

I’m not prepared to __ more

Two women discussing an important business agreement

Use this expression with verbs such as "pay" or "offer" to express the maximum you can do.

I'm sorry, but we aren't prepared to offer more than our original amount.
I'm not prepared to pay more than what your competitors charge unless you can guarantee faster delivery.


If something is non-negotiable, it cannot be negotiated. In other words, it must be part of the agreement without being changed.

We're flexible on the price we can pay, but delivery within three weeks is non-negotiable.
These demands are non-negotiable.

Off the table

Two people looking carefully at an important contract

In negotiation, something that is "on the table" can be discussed and debated. On the other hand, if a topic is "off the table," it is no longer possible or available.

At the end of next week, our offer will be off the table, so please make your decision quickly.

Not take no for an answer

This expression is very bold and direct. In business situations, it is rarely spoken to someone you are negotiating with. However, you may use it among colleagues when discussing an important meeting or agreement.

We need to close this deal tonight, so don't take no for an answer.

It's more commonly used in casual situations when extending invitations, often with a friendly tone of voice and a soft smile.

You have to join us for dinner tonight, and I'm afraid we won't take no for an answer.

Protect your relationships and yourself

Flexibility is important in many areas of life. However, particularly in business, there are times when accepting an alternative is impossible or would lead to negative results.

Prepare yourself for these situations by learning these polite ways to insist. Remember that your facial expression and tone of voice work together with your words to create a polite feeling, so be sure to use them all!