When You’re Wedded to Doing Things “Your Way”

The other day I spoke with someone about a chunk of my work. This person was entirely helpful and congenial, but he gently made it clear that he wasn’t inclined to pay much attention to my analysis and recommendations. Instead, he said that his organization preferred to do things “their way.”

Referring to “your way” is fine when it comes to personnel policies or office furniture. But if what’s at issue is contract language and contract substance, invoking “your way” might be an ominous sign.

It’s just possible that “your way” is made up of all that is clearest and most effective. But the notion of doing things “your way” implies an approach that at least to some extent is static and shut off from new ideas. (That’s why my interlocutor gave short shrift to my notions.) If that’s the case, doing things “your way” has less to do with quality and more to do with some combination of inertia, expediency, and egotism.

But aren’t I being a hypocrite? After all, I advocate following the recommendations I make in my two books—aren’t I just saying, “Do it my way”? The difference is that I’m always on the lookout for new ideas, and I welcome debate. If you go down to the marketplace of ideas, you’ll find me there, standing on my soap box.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.

2 thoughts on “When You’re Wedded to Doing Things “Your Way””

  1. Ken – I think what you pointed out is a problem that’s not just limited to contract drafting but to all of us in general. And although I think most of us like to think we’re open to new ideas (I know I try to be), I’m fairly certain that I’m not as flexible as I admit I should be.

  2. Sadly, my agency has the worst contract boilerplates I have ever seen. I’ve only been here a year though, and when I complain to our procurement office about the quality of the documents (these are major, multi-million construction contracts), what I’ve been told is – that’s the way we do it. If you want a contract – that’s the only one you’re going to get. Misnumbered paragraphs, 5 different “terms” under 5 different “term of contract clauses”, different total amounts, you name it, it’s there. Too bad you are not coming to Seattle. I would highly recommend their manager attend!


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