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How to avoid fanning flames during contract disputes

While many contract disputes are handled via paperwork and third-parties, there are times you end up face-to-face over the matter. Depending on what's at stake in the dispute, things can easily get heated in these negotiation sessions, but fanning the flames often results in burning both houses down instead of finding a resolution. Here are a few tips to keep things a bit cooler as you navigate contract disputes.

First, be careful what you say and how you say it. Taking a combative or condescending tone can ratchet the meeting up to inferno level before you know it, but being to complacent might make the other party think they can take advantage of you. You also have to be careful about agreeing to anything or seeming to agree to anything in such meetings, because what you say or sign in the heat of the moment can come back to haunt you.

Practice your poker face before you enter any type of contract dispute meeting. You don't want your expression giving away your fears or pointing to weak places in your arguments, but you also don't want to key the other party in if you think you might be winning. That could stop them from agreeing to what you want.

Finally, when it's impossible for you to keep a cool head, consider letting a third-party enter the fray on your behalf. A business law attorney can help you understand what not to say or do during such meetings, but they can also attend the meeting with you or on your behalf. In some cases, a lawyer might be able to present appropriate documentation and written arguments that a meeting isn't even necessary.

Source: Fast Company, "How to Keep Your Cool in Heated Situations," Lydia Dishman, accessed Jan. 13, 2017

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