Productivity Tuesday: Contracts are a process

Here’s a bit of advice.

Read every contract you are about to sign. Read it, understand it, and agree with it. Or don’t sign. If you don’t understand, talk to a lawyer. It will save you aggravation and potential heartache in the long-run.

When you review a contract someone wants you to sign, you must remember you have a great deal of power. If what you are reading either doesn’t make sense or will bind you into an agreement you don’t want, you can change things. Break out the red pen and mark it up to what you are willing to sign. Then, send it back to the contract originator for their perusal. Once they have reviewed it, they might either agree with your changes or they will come back with another modified offer. You also take the chance that the entire thing might not work out, but chances are an effective contract negotiator will understand the paradigm and participate in it. Having said that, you must be willing to walk away from any contract that will not meet your needs and expectations.

Remember, contracts are a negotiation. They are not binding until you’ve signed on the dotted line. Until then, you can navigate and negotiate terms that will work for you (and talk with a contract lawyer if you need to do that so that the legalese doesn’t confound you). If you do that, you will place yourself into an optimal working arrangement. If you don’t do it, you might find yourself stuck in an untenable situation that you can’t fix until the terms of the contract expire.

As we might all guess, the former is far preferable. Remember, they company or entity that wants you to sign, wants you to sign. They also hardly ever want the contract to work in your favor. It’s not personal. It is just that it is seldom in their best interest. With luck, they want it to be fair, but unless you read it and comprehend exactly what the agreement will be, you might find yourself in scorching hot water.

Avoid the hot water in favor of the cooler waters of common sense and a good understanding of what you are about to sign before you put pen to paper. You will be far happier.


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