Getting the contract right from the get-go saves you from costly disputes and arbitration in the future.
While negotiations for legal agreements may be time-consuming and sometimes frustrating, it’s essential to be consistent and keep the end goal in mind. To that end, we’ve compiled some tips to help you navigate the process.
Set priorities and objectives
According to the best contract negotiation training courses, it’s improbable that you’ll get everything you ask for no matter how exceptional you are. That’s why it’s important to have clear priorities going into the discussions.
Ask yourself, what are the most important outcomes of the agreement? Which stipulations are you willing to overlook?
By setting your priorities, you can focus on fighting the most important battles. Bring these issues to the fore and be willing to retreat on lower priority issues.
If you focus your energy on trying to win on every little detail, you will waste a lot of time plus the process will likely end in frustration with no joy for either side.
Break the discussions into smaller parts
Trying to get a blanket agreement on a large contract that covers several issues will likely hinder discussions. These hindrances often lead to all or nothing stalemates or even disintegration of the talks.
To avoid unnecessary deadlocks, trained negotiators suggest breaking down issues so you can discuss each part of the contract in phases. When you reach an agreement on one leg, you can proceed to the next, inching towards the end goal.
Find out the other side’s expected outcomes
It’s important to find out as much information as possible about the business and individuals sitting across the proverbial table.
Conduct some research to establish their interests, goals, motives, and pain points. When you know more about the other side, you can determine which areas can give you leverage. For instance:
- Communication. Learning more about the other person can improve how you communicate. For instance, you can find common interests for small talk to lighten the mood.
- Style: Researching the other side’s negotiating style beforehand can help you plan your strategy to increase your chances of success.
Separate people and emotions from issues
Contract negotiations can be intense affairs, fraught with emotions and rising tempers. However, it’s important to remember that these discussions are just business so it is best to avoid bringing emotions into the mix.
Personal feelings and thoughts are likely to cloud your judgment which may lead to a lack of progress in the discussions. Instead, keep your eyes fixed on the facts.
It’s also important to control emotional outbursts and remain calm throughout the negotiations. Staying level-headed can bring clarity and mutual understanding, which can help move the talks along faster.
When either side looks like they are getting overly excited or enraged, it’s usually best to call a time-out to prevent the situation from spiraling out of control.
It takes a lot of effort to keep a lid on your emotions, so it is best to train to control your flare-ups until you get it right. It helps to practice emotional control techniques such as:
- deep breathing to signal your brain to calm down
- counting to disrupt your brain’s thought patterns and giving yourself a minute to recollect your thoughts
- physical activity to stimulate the release of endorphins
Avoid rushing the process
Rushing through the negotiations can result in avoidable concessions and hasty decisions that will affect how you run your business throughout the contract’s lifespan. So, it’s important to pace yourself to ensure that you get every step of the process right.
Also, consider creating a draft document that both negotiating sides can go over to ensure that everyone agrees on all the terms of the contract.
Where possible, take control of the discussion by setting the agenda so you can control the pace and timing of the issues discussed. However, remember not to slow down the pace to such an extent that you frustrate the other side. If you calculate that the other side is under time pressure, then slowing proceedings down can be a tactic to employ in order to gain concessions.
Concluding better contracts
Start with clear objectives and break down the contract terms so you can discuss each part separately. Then work your way through all the issues at a moderate pace. Remember to take time to find out more about the other side.
Finally, keep emotions out of the discussions. You may not master the art of managing your emotions the first time, so consider training and rehearsing until you work out how to keep contract negotiations neutral and non-emotional.