The Game of Business: Top Tips For Negotiating Contracts With Partners

If your business partners also happen to be your friends, it may be a tall order to go to the negotiating table without a sense of obligation to compromise a lot. You want to leave the bartering talks with your integrity and your friendship still intact. However, this is not the place to cheat yourself out of the best deal. Here are a few tips for leaving a negotiation with your partner with much of what you wanted from the start.

Get an Outsider’s Opinion

Sometimes, you can be too close to a situation to assess it with any clarity. It is wise to get the experienced opinion of someone who is not your partner and whom you trust. You score double if this person is an attorney or legal consultant. This is especially important to consider if your situation is that of a dispute and you need business litigation services. Make sure your opinion has been tempered with some objectivity before you approach your partners for negotiation. This will show some level of fairness and earn your partner’s respect.

Stay Mindful of Established Roles and Responsibilities

Unless you are negotiating a shift in titles and roles within your partnership, you should always stay mindful of what you agreed to do, and allow your partner to do, prior to the current negotiation. You set a level playing field if you and your partner can agree to the terms and big-picture items before the negotiations begin. Do not steer away from this once you agree. It will cast you as unworthy of your partner’s trust.

Bring Guerilla Tactics

You may have to designate a “bad cop” at the negotiating table in order to see any of your gains. For example, some people defer final decisions to their spouses, saying they must secure spousal consent so that they do not come off as the villains. In most cases, this is a bargaining tactic to nudge the other party to concede something. You should also have played out all possible moves before you arrive start bargaining. Know what you have to win and lose so that you are in a better position when the negotiations end.

Stay Open to Further Talks

Even when you and your partner think you have ironed out all the wrinkles in your new plan, there likely may be some finer points that still need negotiating. Do not be afraid to request additional bargaining time or allow this time if your partner needs it. This is just a mutual respect gesture that keeps your talks friendly.

One of the best ways to avoid any tense escalations if you must negotiate a contract with partners is to work out the problem situations before they occur. Both parties are typically more rational and open to compromise prior to bargaining sessions. It is best to deal with what is important long before there is a breakdown.

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