Critical Negotiations Skills: Why You Should Have it in Writing

Critical Negotiations Skills Why You Should Have it in Writing


There is an old saying in the West that says that if the preacher talks too much about stealing, better sneak out a little early, race home and lock the cellar doors.

The same holds for the good old boy with the down-home negotiations skills that says, “Ah, we don't need to have a contract. You can trust me.” The most innocent reasons for putting something in writing are that frankly each of us forgets, changes our minds or some folk just plain lie!

Robert Ringer famously said in the 70's, “If you have it in writing, you have a prayer. If you don't have it in writing you just have air!” Sadly, old Bobby was right more times than wrong.

A contract is a meeting of the minds. All the negotiations skills in the world can’t do what a contract can. When two people finally have that, it means that they think the same thing, or at least at that moment in time they think that they think the same thought! So a good thought is to write the agreement down in black and white so both parties can look at it.

When you both see it in those terms, and it is really what you both were thinking, then you really do have a contract. The final touch is when each of you put your negotiations skills aside and add your John Hancock on the dotted line.

Then in the future when your partner decides that he doesn't remember it the way you do, each of you can pull out that paper and refer to it to refresh your aging memories and negotiations skills. Of course, you keep a copy in your 40-ton vault just in case your partner still doesn't agree 'cuz that's what courts are for! Besides, we want to fall into the status quo.

The US has 5% of the world's population, 95% of the world's attorneys and 98% of the world's litigation. And if you were to sneak a peak at the negotiations skills, I'm sure we'd find that a goodly part of that is split between New York and California! (quote me and I'll deny it!) So don't worry, sue him. You'll be in good company.

Most all of us want to think the other person is honest and wants the best, or at least is a straight shooter (the exception, of course, is if you are in the sights of his very large rifle scope!). But thinking that someone thinks what we do and will continue thinking that way is rather dicey, especially when subtle negotiations skills come to bear.

Ever played that game where you all sit in a big circle and you whisper something in the person's ear to your right? That person in turn repeats what he thought he heard to the person on her right, and so on around the circle. The rule is that no one can repeat themselves. Each one has to repeat once what he thought he or she heard. When the last person repeats what he heard to you and you tell the group the two statements the group usually rolls around in laughter! Remember that game? Of course you do! It's not even a matter of negotiations skills, just crazy brains, and that's why we have contracts! That's why we have everything worth remembering exactly put down in writing and witnessed.

Some of the kindest, sweetest people I have ever known have said, “OK, great I'll have my attorney draw up an agreement.” Actually it was a compliment. Those kinds of people are unique and usually those contracts gather dust in my active files. It's the oily guy with the new porcelain smile and his $3,000 suit paid for by the last victim of his negotiations skills that says, “Ah we don't need to have a contract. You can trust me...” NOW That's when I sneak out early, race home and lock the cellar!