Some people regard the contract process as an adversarial one. I encountered a great example of that recently: someone I’ve been corresponding with used the word “opponent” in referring to a lawyer representing the other side in a deal. When the other side is the enemy, you’re free to indulge in “creative ambiguity” and other shenanigans.
That’s a long way from my let’s-have-a-meeting-of-the-minds approach. But I’m so buried in detail that I find it useful to be reminded periodically that contracts serve a broader function than mitigating your risk or handcuffing the other guy. I received just such a reminder in the form of this blog post by Douglas R. Griess of the Denver law firm Dymond Reagor Colville.
2 thoughts on “Contracts as a Relationship-Building Tool”
Thank you for posting this link Ken. This is the first time I’ve seen any support for what I’ve been arguing at my place of employment for years.
We put ourselves forward as a state of the art, industry leading supplier of services yet we go out into the world with a bloated service agreement full of antediluvian terminology that looks like it’s been typed by 10,000 monkeys.
Any contact you have with a client – including the contractual negotiations and the contract itself – must fully express who you are as a business. I’m putting this post on the agenda at our next sales meeting in the hopes that someone will finally listen!
Thank you! I am an attorney and mediator who earns her living teaching collaborative negotiation skills to businesses who negotiate complex contracts with their customers. (Think Master Service Agreements and the like.) Creating that kind of hand-in-glove relationship must be a collaboration between the businesses, and yet, some companies take an adversarial approach with their vendors. In fact, I recently coached an account rep who was attacked by a large company’s legal counsel. Her company ended up walking away from the deal after they determined the relationship was not worth the trouble.
I sincerely hope that more businesses and more attorneys recognize that collaboration in contractual relationships pays huge dividends.