Everything is negotiable.
That is one of the first things I learned in law school. It is one of the first things you learn in business. Everything is negotiable. Of course, that doesn’t mean you will always get what you want in your contracts. It doesn’t mean you can convince iTunes to sell you that HD show for $0.99 instead of $2.99. But, with the right circumstances and the right leverage, you can negotiate anything in any contract. It is an important skill to learn.
If you are going to be in business for yourself or help someone run their business, you need to understand this simple fact. Every contract is negotiable. Got it? Good. Now go negotiate a contract. Ask for half off your next coffee (Remember, even that is a contract). Ask for a discount for paying in cash. Practice negotiating contracts in every day life.
Did you do it? [If you tried to negotiate a contract today, let me know!]
Business owners negotiate contracts all the time. It is a skill that is very important for an entrepreneur to possess. Negotiation, however, is more of an art than a science. Negotiation takes a certain amount of finesse and a commanding knowledge of the facts and issues in any given situation.
But, I bet you knew all of that already.
Today, Let’s talk about what you do when you are working with someone who is simply unreasonable. How do you approach a negotiation with an unreasonable person?
As I am sure you can imagine, I do a good bit of negotiation in my line of work. I negotiate with individuals. I negotiate with businesses. I negotiate with debt collectors. Sometimes, I even negotiate with other lawyers. I have learned a number of things in my experience negotiating. I have seen a lot of strange situations, and I am hoping to help you defuse similar situations early on.
The Issue with Your Contract Isn’t Really The Deal
One thing you always have to keep in mind when you are negotiating is that the issue you are running into in your negotiation probably isn’t about the deal you are trying to negotiate. If you are negotiating with someone who won’t see reason or they don’t seem to be willing to move in the direction of compromise at all, the problem isn’t the deal. It isn’t about the money, the rights, or whatever you happen to be negotiating. It is deeper than that.
If you are dealing with someone who simply won’t budge, try to find a way to determine what they want. Step back for a second and try to see what it is they need to help them accept the deal. If you are in a dispute of some kind, does the other person want an apology? Do they simply feel wronged? I know it seems like it has nothing to do with legal, but it can be a powerful tool. Remember, no matter what you are negotiating, there are people involved. It doesn’t matter how powerful a person you are dealing with, they have some kind of emotions. Sometimes, you need to defuse those emotions. It is up to you to pay attention to what is being said to try to resolve the dispute amicably by trying to resolve the entire dispute. Remember, no matter what happened to cause a dispute, there will be emotions involved. You also need to pay attention to yourself and make sure you are not emotionally tied to a certain outcome or position.
There is More than One Way to Skin A Cat
Sometimes, you can’t give the other side what they want the way they want it. Sometimes, there are too many hurdles (many of them legal) to making the deal work the way the other side wants. That is when you need to think outside of the box. Be creative. Think of ways to meet everyone’s needs and desires within the boundaries of the issues you are facing. There are always more ways to look at a deal. There are always creative ways to solve a hurdle in a deal.
- If you are looking at a deal that will have serious tax consequences, find a different way to structure it so the money involved is taxed differently.
- If you are looking at a deal that will create liabilities for an individual party, think about how to adjust the deal to avoid it.
Coming up with creative solutions to problems encountered in resolving a problem can often be the break-through you need. If you show that you are trying to creatively get the other side what they want, they will likely appreciate it and it could go a long way toward a resolution.
But sometimes it won’t.
You Have to Know Your Rights
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, no matter how much you do to try and meet the needs of the other side, you simply can’t come to an agreement. You can’t work it out. At that point, if you know your rights, you may just need to dust the sand off your feet and walk away.
You could get sued. It could get worse. There will likely be consequences. That is why, when you enter into the ring of negotiation, you need to know what rights you have. Knowing you are on solid legal footing can give you a leg up in any dispute. If you know your position and you understand your legal rights, you know what it means to walk away from the negotiation. This can be empowering. You know you can trust in the process. Sometimes, it is the only choice you have. Sometimes, it is enough to change their tune.
Knowing your legal rights has two sides. You need to know that, whatever the other side claims you may have done, you have defenses to those claims. You also need to know what claims you have against the other side. Every case has a plaintiff (the one who sues) and a defendant (the one who is sued). Sometimes, everyone sues everyone. Taking the risk of allowing litigation to happen, must be a calculated one. You must understand what you are getting into because, you are not in the business of litigation.
Of course, that is why we work so hard here to help you understand the legal that affects your business everyday.
I will talk to you next week, unless you talk to me first 😉
P.S. I wanted to give you a quick update on the Podcast. You may have noticed we have not had one in a little while. My guest for the podcast that was scheduled to go live last week is a life insurance agent and we have to wait on his compliance department to approve the recording.
It will be up soon. In the mean time, you can always catch up on the old ones or leave me a voicemail and tell me what you want to hear about. Or who you want to hear from!