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Sometimes, people float contracts by other people and when something in the contract is questioned the originating person will say something to the effect of:
Oh, don’t worry about that.
That doesn’t mean anything.
I don’t see that becoming a problem.
We won’t enforce that.
Then let’s take it out of the contract. Or let’s rewrite it.
Oh no. We can’t. My lawyers want that in there.
Oh no. We can’t. That’s my standard contract.
And it’s my standard response to rewrite or decline it. Or ask for more money. Don’t sign something unless you get something in return for it.
Seriously, though, words matter. If it’s written down, it means something. If you sign it, you agree to it. Period.
And this doesn’t only apply to contracts. Social media, blogs posts – anything written down really – is included here. The words mean something. If they didn’t they wouldn’t be there.
Sometimes, wording may have been a mistake. Maybe. People do make mistakes. It happens. Then the answer should be:
Oh yes, let’s word that a bit better and clearer.
Let’s make this complicated…
In addition, we have the abundance of making things as complicated as possible. Instead of using simple terms and sentences that people actually understand we use the most difficult way to spit that sentence out.
In that case it really might not mean much because nobody can actually tell what it means. Ha. you see the point, I’m sure. Either way: Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.
It’s OK to have an opinion and stand by certain beliefs (in blog posts, for example) or require certain conditions (in contracts, for example). When somebody hires me to consult or speak at their event I do have some standard contract language that I use. I try to be fair to both sides and it’s all up for debate anyway. But one thing is for certain: It does mean something.
Everything written down (and even said) means something. The different from the written word is that we can’t check back on what was said – for the most part. With video cameras all around us even that is changing. That’s a story for another day, though.