What’s in it for Them?

SO YOU GET IT. You know what’s in it for you. You want neutral-driven dispute resolution in your business contracts. But to make this happen, the other side also has to agree. Since it’s less well known, and not yet standard in industry contract templates, you’ll probably need to propose Just Resolve for any disputes that arise, or at least for disputes up to some comfortable level of money stakes. When you do, and if your counterpart has not heard of Just Resolve before, he or she might be unsure or suspicious.

The good news is that you’ve proposed something that makes real sense. Your counterpart may recognize and like the idea that, if a dispute were to arise, using Just Resolve could save a lot of money, reduce distracted time, and greatly mitigate the risks of litigation including runaway legal fees or ruined relationships. Offering a simple choice of a dollar amount – below which a dispute uses the Just Resolve process and above which it follows a traditional path – should keep things simple, non-threatening, and easily negotiated.

But for some, fear and uncertainty can override reason. So to get what you want, you may have to overcome these fear-based objections:

FEAR OF CHANGE. Here’s a possible reaction: “Why don’t we just do what we’ve done before, or whatever our lawyers suggest?” Here’s your answer: “1. What’s been done before always costs both sides more time, money, and peace of mind than it’s worth. What we’re proposing changes that for the better, much better. 2. What lawyers usually suggest may protect our rights, but sometimes that’s not our bottom line. What we’re proposing actually reduces disputes by removing litigation threats and incentives.”

FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN. Your counterpart or any legal advisor could react with: “I’ve never heard of this service or this method, so it feels risky. What if they’re not around when we need them, or their method doesn’t deliver the right result, or a court won’t enforce it?” Here’s your response: “1. There’s no reason to think any of these scenarios is likely. 2. I compare these kinds of risks with what we stand to lose or gain. The alternatives typically deliver similar outcomes, but for much more money and distracted time, so we have little to lose and lots to gain.”

FEAR OF BEING FOOLED. They might raise this concern: “How do I know this service is really neutral and fair, and not in your pocket?” The answer here is simple: “Check out their website and videos re how they work, or give them a call. Take a look with an open mind and I think you’ll see that this could save us both a lot of time, money and peace of mind. I think we are both good business partners who care more about a win-win relationship than winning at all costs.”

FEAR OF LOSING CONTROL. This concern might sound like this: “I don’t like the idea of letting someone else decide my fate without the protection of my lawyer.” Your thoughtful answer: “First, we only use this process if all else has failed. Second, lawyers can still advise or stand in your shoes; they just can’t dictate or delay the investigation. Third, in my experience, when stakes are limited, the value of competing attorneys doesn’t justify the costs.”

You’re not likely to lose a deal by suggesting how to handle a difficult dispute. So isn’t it worth a conversation now? Later will be too late.

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