How to handle contract negotiations

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Man and woman professionals shaking hands.

We’re sure you’ve seen contract negotiations in popular entertainment. Everyone gathers around a big table, different ploys and negotiation tactics are discussed beforehand, and everyone fights to gain the “upper hand.” While real-life contract negotiations can be contentious, rarely will they devolve into threats, yelling, and table pounding.

This isn’t to say business negotiations won’t get tense. When control of a company is at stake or millions of dollars are in play, you can certainly understand why emotions begin to run high. But allowing cooler heads to prevail will lead to dispute resolution that everyone can live with.

Common Negotiation Approaches

There are important negotiation strategies that should be followed of course. When preparing for a negotiation, there’s no such thing as too much information. The more research your attorney does, buoyed by any previous agreements you may have and other materials, the better prepared they’ll be.

Getting to Yes
Negotiations are combative by nature. If everyone agreed on everything from the start, there would be no need for the give and take. Published in 1981, “Getting To Yes” emphasizes removing emotion from the equation and concentrating on the issues or merits of the contract.

It isn’t always easy – we’re human after all. Personalities clash and egos compete, creating an adversarial relationship. By focusing on individual aspects of the contract with an objective eye, arriving at a solution become much easier.

Piece by Piece
Unless you have an overwhelming advantage, an “all or nothing” attitude won’t get you very far in a negotiation. By splitting up aspects of the contract, you can quickly identify points that are agreeable for both parties, speeding up the process. This could also help both parties gain a better understanding of the contract.

First Things First
Although we mentioned the importance of keeping an eye on the little details, make sure you understand what you value the most in a contract. This clarity will allow you to make concessions in other areas if it helps you attain your main goal or goals.

Take The Lead
Although there are several theatrical ways to get a perceived edge in negotiations, there are less antagonizing steps you can take to gain the mythical upper hand. Drafting the original contract, offering agendas or talking points before a meeting, and summarizing past discussions let you frame the negotiations.

Leave On a High Note
There’s a saying that during a discussion about one’s performance, you can always disregard everything said before the “but.” For example, “We appreciate all of your hard work over the years, but your materials have been sub-par lately.” By flipping the script and ending with topics that all parties agree on, everyone walks away with a positive feeling.

Experienced Negotiators

Depending on the size of the deal, an experienced attorney is well worth the money. A few points may be holding everything up, but if the “nuts and bolts” of the contract aren’t properly addressed, any agreements could be null and void.

Obviously, negotiation skills are a must. But an understanding of the law is just as important. Even when major points are agreed upon, the devil’s in the details. An attorney well-versed in business law will be able to catch certain language that could cost you in the long run.

Attorneys aren’t out to get anyone, but they are there to protect their clients. Whether the negotiations are between two different businesses or there are internal negotiations within a company, both parties should be represented. The Horenstein Law Group solves problems and resolves disputes efficiently and effectively, so you can get back to business.

We provide contract negotiation services for business mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, and reorganizations. We’re experienced with financial agreements as well, such as loans, leases, commercial contracts, and buy-sell agreements. Our services also include public-private agreements and compliance negotiations.

Horenstein Law Group offers responsive, cost-effective, and collaborative legal services. Whether you need one-time help with contract negotiations or consistent legal assistance, we have a plan and fee structure to fit your needs. Contact Horenstein Law Group today and let us be your local “in-house” counsel.

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