In my book, Advocating for Yourself: The Laypersons Guide to Contracts, Scams and Overcharging, I cover contract review and negotiation tips. There are 7 concepts I focus on: Relationship, Relax, Review, Risk, Recourse, Ruse & Ridiculous. The book is not designed to provide legal advice, but rather to help the average person understand and handle contracts they are presented with. I will be covering these 7 tips in this blog, so today I want to talk about the first one, Relationship.
Building relationships of trust is important in negotiating contracts. I’ve been a contract negotiator for nearly two decades now and have dealt with a number of personalities. Probably the most common in the earlier years was the personality that tries to intimidate, much like a bully. As contract negotiation expanded out to be more common, I’ve seen personalities become more collaborative. This is the ideal situation in order for the parties to appropriately deal with the critical issues.
In my Relationship chapter, I provide stories and real life examples to help the layperson understand how not to be intimidated as one approaches discussing the terms of the deal. Over the years, I’ve had attorneys and contract negotiators try tactics of talking over me, as well as dealing with arrogant and condescending tactics. I’ve seen good contract negotiators frazzled by this, and my coaching to them is that it’s not personal. It’s a tactic. When I’m faced with such a personality during negotiations, if it is so severe that it is impeding progress, I will stop the negotiation and discuss it. I talk about the elephant in the room and let the person know that I will end the negotiation if it continues. More often, than not, things improve from there. If it’s not severe, I ignore it. Again, it’s not personal, so don’t buy into that tactic. They will soon learn you’re not intimidated by it and become more focused on the deal.
As you approach any discussion involving a contract, setting the stage for a collaborative conversation is the most productive means to negotiate a deal that everyone is comfortable with when they sign off on the contract.
“Trust is built when someone is vulnerable and not taken advantage of.” –Bob Vanourek, author of Triple Crown Leadership