Contracts are essential to your business since they determine your legal rights and obligations. Yet they are frequently hard to understand, stressful, and sometimes crammed down your throat by a larger company with more lawyers.
In addition, most of us have negotiated with parties that we just could not push around. What if you could make each contract a blessing to your business? I call this “Peak Negotiation.” The key is to negotiate more effectively!
- There are some tips. First, play it straight and be flexible. I recommend a book by Stephen Covey called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey recommends what he calls win-win contracts. With a win-win contract, both parties to a contract can win. To achieve a win-win contract you must (i) understand the other party, (ii) begin with the end in mind (iii) be proactive, and (iv) put first things first. These are valuable rules that I use in negotiating. Write the contract so that the parties become like partners instead of adversaries. They work together.
Another good source of ideas comes from marriage counseling techniques. The parties improve their contractual relationship by communicating so they understand each other’s feelings and goals — what the other party really wants and really hates and why. This way, each party can try to give the other party what they want. See generally, The Power of Two, Susan Heitler.
Another obvious source of negotiating ideas is the One Minute Negotiator by Don Hutson and George Lucas. There is much to learn from this book, particularly, understanding your own likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and those of the other party. Don reinforces win-win and many of the above strategies. He has good material on how to deal with ornery folks.
Wis Laughlin has practiced law for over 40 years and is a former General Counsel of a national software company a former IRS attorney, and is an Accredited Estate Planner. Call for a FREE half-hour consultation. 901 218-7820.
See also The Nuts and Bolts of Contracts