Life, “they” say, is full of grey areas. That really sucks for black and white people like me. Maybe if you’re not a black and white kind of person, you shouldn’t be doing contracts.
To me, “they” wander day to day in a fog of partly right/partly wrong vagaries, maybe this way, maybe that, all under a discombobulated mop of split hairs. I tend to steer fairly clear of the grey people in my personal life, since the more of them are around, the more it does get harder to see the white from the black. I much prefer the company of those who see things, or at least prefer and attempt to see things, in terms of black and white. What I do see as grey, I usually try to ‘fix’ by making it black and white. It’s not just about perception with a contract analyst, our job is to actually, really, make stuff black and white.
But sometimes “they” find themselves in contract with my company, or within my company and responsible for our contractual conduct, so I can’t avoid them. “They” want to apply their depraved worldview of fuzzy logic (the philosophical fuzzy logic, not the mathematical) to some situation where “they” think they can improve their lot by simply subtracting from the other contracted party. This is where the contract will clear up the fog, clarify the vagueness, grant understanding to the confused, and unite split ends into a coherent and glorious whole that settles the matter without apologies. And out of all the black and white with which I paint the dullard’s world, I come out smelling like an untouchable rose because while I gave the clarification, I am not the one to blame for offending their fuzzy sensibilities.
Yes, I love it when contract clarity offends the people who prefer a grey economy of things.
Unlike elsewhere in our lives, at work doing contracts there will be no shades of grey with people, not so long as the contract is well written. People not only aren’t offended when we convert fog to clear and grey to black and white, they like it and expect it. ‘Ought’ becomes clear. No amount of personal fault, intellectual weakness, disordered personality, or foot-stomping demands to the contrary (this from a former high school teacher who was once married to a narcissistic grey-thinker) are going to matter in light of what ‘ought’ to be the governance…the contract takes care of that. I don’t have to posit anything, I simply exposit. They can’t diss me for what it says, and there is no way around its terms except for breach, and even that is accounted for in the contract.
I love it when contracts make fuzzy situations clear for people, and I get to bring the clarity.
I think, for many contract analysts, that must be a fairly sweet spot in an otherwise grey-area life, if that is indeed how life is lived for them. The angst of what-to-do is all gone, replaced by simply going to the text to find out about the way things are. Don’t you wish more of life could be that simple sometimes? I don’t need to consider people’s silly alternatives to the terms when I’m being a contract analyst, much like the traffic cop who hears excuses about why the speed limit was broken (https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2013/04/top-10-excuses-for-speeding/index.htm). As if such excuses excused culpability. Getting away with grey is in spite of the terms, not because of them.
People need the contract analyst to help them understand what the enforceable, governing terms mean to their scope of work and, when it’s written well, it just does that. Period, The grey in their day-to-day lives becomes black and white and for a while the whole world has to see things the way I like seeing them.
I love that.
So my fellow Category Manager in the cubicle space next to me says he’s pained by this contracts person on the other end of his last call. You see, some companies are very low risk, which means they really let the legal group tell them what they can and cannot accept in contract revisions. Contract Analysts become high-paid document delivery people, Fedexers if you will. So he’d received this vendor paper and sent back our companies edits to that, and just heard:
“Okay, I’ll send it up to my legal. But they’re not usually ok with accepting revisions to our template.”‘
Here’s what I suggested:
Tell the person you understand; legal can be that way sometimes. But say you are entirely open to hearing their concerns and, if they do not accept all your revisions, to kindly forward along their name and contact info so you can speak with them directly, perhaps bringing along your lawyer to chat with them in a conference call invitation you will have to send to wrap things up in time, since time is of the essence here.
Why tell them that? Because in extremely low risk companies some lawyers are quite accustomed to simply sitting in the back bleachers bellowing out their way or the highway and have no interest at all in investing their precious time and serenity in hearing your reasons as to why their blurbage ought to be rejected. Sometimes these people are so unchallenged in their own organization that they have become lax and lazy, and a wily Contract Analyst can exploit that weakness. In other words, you are leveraging their own unwillingness to be bothered in order to get the revisions you want.
They have to make a decision and often, suddenly, you are not worth their efforts in defending any further changes, which they bring upon themselves if they dare to reject your latest contract offer since, after all, your request for access to their fortress of solitude is entirely reasonable.
The threat of making lazy people work has always been a winning method by those willing to try harder than the next person. And sometimes all it takes is the threat. You can’t lose in that situation.
It’s worked for me