Read It! This is one that is always a good reminder. It’s important to get any agreement in writing. In writing can be a formal contract, an email or even a text message. It’s harder to prove intent when there is nothing in writing.
Once you get it in writing, you must read it before you sign it. It’s much harder to change something after you sign it. Saying you didn’t understand or didn’t read it won’t work.
Too often people sign without reading it. I received a 7 page contract for a non paying speaking event. I do “giveback” speaking at times and was considering this to be one of those engagements.
There were several clauses in the contract that gave me concern. I share these during my Think Like A Negotiator sessions and highlight the importance of reading the contract before you sign it.
One of the clauses said if I failed to appear I would be required to pay the company organizing the event $25,000! This was going to be a small event. They said they were “expecting” 70-80 people. Based on my experience with these type of events, it would be 20-30 at the most.
$25,000? That’s not only NOT fair and reasonable, that’s crazy (Think Like A Negotiation Strategy #50 – You Can’t Negotiate With Crazy!). The way it was worded left no caveat for things like if you got in an accident or even died. The way it was written, if you died, they could sue your estate for the $25,000 because you didn’t appear!
It wasn’t worth the time and effort to attempt to negotiate this and the other ridiculous clauses that were in the contract. I simply responded with “I am unable to accept your terms and conditions.”
Unfortunately I know someone who signed this contract. They may not have read it before signing it which will cause problems later down the road.
A contract is simply an offer, you can either accept it, reject it or make a counteroffer. Don’t think you have to agree to what is presented to you whether it’s a speaking contract, a job offer or a repair contract. You have the right to discuss any agreement you are presented but you waive that right if you sign it without reading it.
If you don’t understand the language, get a contracts expert or contracts attorney to help you. It’s better to make sure you understand what you are signing than to simply agree and sign.
Read it! It will save you a significant amount of problems later down the road.
The Power is in The Work! Keep Thinking Like A Negotiator!