Jermaine wrote:

I’ve been talking with a client, and am excited that we want to work together. I sent him my client agreement, only to find that when he read it, he didn’t want to sign it. Instead, he wanted me to sign his, but they’re both very different. I’m at a loss about this, Anastacia. What’s the moxie thing to do? I’m guessing it’s to put my foot down and tell him that if he wants to use his, I won’t work with him? Why would I want to work with a control freak? I hate feeling like I’m being disrespected as a business owner. I was disrespected enough in my job, and I didn’t expect to feel this way in my business. UGH!

Great questions!

From what I’ve observed in my lifetime, most people sign agreements without reading them or having attorneys review them. And all that gets you is someone who’s ok with what the agreement says, right up until the rubber meets the road, and he’s not. When that happens, things can get ugly fast, and even pointing out that an agreement was signed doesn’t tend to make them better.

So, you have a PC who not only read your agreement, but has a preference about it, and that is, in my view, a terrific thing. It shows he’s alive, smart, engaged, concerned and proactive about his business…yay, Mr. Client!

And, I get that it interrupts your flow and can be frustrating, too. ♥

Here’s the thing: you have your business standards, and the client has his own. You both can’t get everything you want—it’s categorically impossible (unless you’re clones, and I’m guessing you’re not!). And so there has to be a bit of give and take. And how that happens is up to the two of you, but it will happen if you move forward and work together. That it’s happening in advance is actually fantastic, as it gives you both the opportunity to see how you’ll work through things (or not!) that come up in the relationship when you don’t exactly see eye to eye.

Feeling as though this is disrespectful to you and that he’s a control freak, I think, is because you haven’t yet healed from whatever you suffered in your job, and so his request is a trigger for you. Because it looks and feels like what you used to experience, you experience it as being the same thing.

And the client may not respect you, but this request doesn’t necessarily mean that. Nor does his wanting to use his agreement mean he’s a control freak any more than your wanting to use your agreement means that you’re a control freak. Instead, it’s more likely that you’re simply two people who want what’s best for your businesses; frankly, that’s as it should be.

Reach For Consensus Before Walking Away

Your choices?

  1. Give in to what he wants (not a great idea)
  2. Walk away to keep from giving in (more info is needed before deciding)

Or, you can choose the third option. People generally see just two; but there’s always at least one more–so look for the third and choose that because that’s usually where the magic is.

In this example, the third option I notice would be to talk to the client about it, exploring the places where you both want something different, to see if you can reach a consensus.

Since everything else has been swell enough to lead you to the place where you’re talking about signing an agreement, it tells me that you want to work with the PC, and he with you. So I urge you to have that conversations and see what you can make happen. If you can’t reach a comfortable middle ground, you’ll know it soon enough and can walk away then. But if you do reach consensus? Moving through a situation like this together will simply make your relationship stronger on the back end.

Good luck, Jermaine!!