Terms and Conditions MATTER

A lot of people think negotiations are all, or mostly, about price. Experienced negotiators know that Terms and Conditions matter MORE!

I tend to tell a lot of business stories, but there’s a lot of negotiations that happen on a personal level that may drive a point home even better. Studies show the average person has 4-5 opportunities to negotiate every day – but they miss them because they’re not paying attention.

I’d like to tell you about a time I was a real “A”-double-”S”. I’m not proud of it, but I’ve learned from it and maybe someone you know can too.

I was invited to a friend’s wedding; it was going to be a very swanky affair. Every aspect was being analyzed and discussed with the bridesmaids in great detail.

I was in a joking mood and said to the bride, “I can’t wait! I’ll even wear my cowboy boots?” Time stopped, you could hear a pin drop, and the bride shot a dagger stare at me.

Her immediate response was, “No, you will dress appropriately, cowboy boots don’t go with a suit.” I shifted from fun to devious almost immediately, and said, “I don’t have a suit nice enough for your wedding, if I buy a new sport coat could I wear that?” The bride rolled her eyes, took a deep breath, and said, “Fine.” Conversation over.

Fast forward to the wedding. It was a spectacular affair, at a yacht club, with beautiful flowers, a string quartet, scrumptious hors d’oeuvres, everything was perfect.

The guests were all seated, and the music started playing, “Here Comes the Bride!” The doors flung open. The bride took her place of honor on the red carpet, it was her big day and bigger entrance, every eye was on her! The bride’s smile beamed as she looked out over all her family and friends. She took in the moment, scanning and recognizing the audience, until…she got to me. There I was, dressed in my new sport coat. The MOST obnoxious sport coat I could find.

The dagger stare came out again and her face turned as red as my jacket.

Life and Negotiation lesson for today: Terms and Conditions MATTER. The bride never specified what colors it had to be, or even what colors it couldn’t be. Both valuable lessons learned for both parties.

As a side note, don’t let someone else’s buffoonery ruin your day. What I did was a reflection of the “A”-double-”S” I was, not someone else’s reality. Michele, I’m sorry for any pain I caused.

Learn more about Terms and Conditions from the American Bar Association HERE.