Don’t Give In To Contract Bullies

My kids came home from school recently talking about using your “wits”. I had no idea what they were talking about. They then explained it’s a way to deal with bullies at school. I find that using this same acronym can be used when negotiating your legal contracts.

Walk Away. If provisions in a contract are one sided (not in your favour), you do not have to give in and sign the contract. In fact, I highly suggest you do not sign that contract. If it’s going to come back to haunt you, you are likely better off walking away from the contract and moving on to something (or someone) else.

Don’t feel pressured to sign a contract being presented by a bully.

Ignore.  I have been in negotiations where others use threats or negative suggestions. It’s not common but it does happen. As hard as it is, I do my best to ignore this behaviour. I keep my client’s goals in sight and don’t get sidetracked. At the end of the dayl, in the end it all comes down to what is in the signed contract.

Talk it Out. This is the key to any negotiation. You need to have a discussion to understand where the other party is coming from. Sometimes you may have misunderstood the rationale for a certain provision. Yet after discussion, you might accept their proposed language. For example, I negotiated a contract where my client was to be retained as a business consultant for a technology startup. The contract required my client to delete all of the contacts that she had made during the term of the contract once the contract expired. This could potentially be hundreds of contacts on multiple platforms. It was simply unacceptable to my client because it would be too difficult to ascertain whether the contact was made because of her relationship with the startup or because of her acting on her own. Not to mention that it would take a lot of time to implement. At the end of the day, the startup listened to our reasoning and agreed with us that the section could be deleted.

If we had not had the discussion, it could have led to a lot of unnecessary frustration and back and forth as well as a potential job lost.

Seek Help. Sometimes you are dealing with a difficult situation or a technical document or you are just too busy to negotiate the contract yourself. In these cases, you may want to retain a lawyer with experience in negotiation in your industry. Lawyers have specific training and experience in this type of work and can provide you with invaluable guidance. Plus it’s always nice to have someone on your side. I negotiate contracts on a regular basis and would be happy to discuss how I can help you with your contracts.

We can learn a lot from our kids. Using our “wits” is just one of these opportunities.

Have you encountered a bully in your business? What tactics worked for you?