As well as having a positive process, the terms in your contract can (and should) enhance the trust you already have* with your client/supplier, both through specific terms and through their general style and tone.

Demonstrating trust

First, check which of the 8 Habits of Defective Contracts you are guilty of! Your contracts shouldn’t stoke mistrust with anyone reading them.

For me, there are a number of red flags that set my hackles rising when I am reviewing a contract… the sort of thing that makes me wonder if they really trust my client at all. These are terms which:

  • are wholly biased in favour of the paying party
  • seem unfair ie destroy the balance between risk and reward
  • slow down the negotiations ie terms which often conceded but inflammatory on first reading.

As well as the granular aspect of content, another red flag is when a party to the contract, or any contract user, cannot easily find all their responsibilities within the terms. Structure, flow, and layout can all make a huge difference to enhancing trust… just think about how negative the phrase ‘small print’ has become. That’s where they hide the contract gremlins that turn nasty at midnight!

What should you do?

Read your contracts (both those you send out and those you receive). Carry out a trust audit of your terms to identify whether there are simple changes you should be making to enhance trust. After all, without your clients or suppliers, you don’t actually have a business at all!

[*PS if you don’t trust them, why do business with them at all?]

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