Let’s Shake On It!

“Just sign on the dotted line…and here…and here…”

I’m not a fan of the contract.

Contracts are cumbersome creations that are more about the lack of trust that two or more parties have in each other than they are about delivering on shared expectations.

Contracts are about consequences rather than outcomes. They sum up all the worst things that can happen, and then who’s going to be stuck with the bill when they do. They have no upside. They show no faith in the relationship, or the people involved.

Even the simplest of modern transactions requires a convoluted contract these days. Apple ask you to read through more than 10,000 words to use iCloud; if you want to buy a song it’s almost double that to access iTunes. PayPal has over 36,000 words in its T&C’s; that’s more than in Hamlet. And Shakespeare’s old English is more comprehensible than the legalese involved.

A handshake is a sign of trust

I prefer handshake deals. They are made without recourse to threats of dire penalties in order to achieve desired outcomes. A handshake is forward thinking; it is my promise to perform.

A handshake can express empathy and understanding; it inspires confidence. When we shake we are in agreement; meeting or exceeding the terms of the deal will grow the relationship, failure to perform by either side will put at risk any further deals between the parties. Simple.

In this age of social media, poor performance is very quickly public knowledge; justice is delivered online faster than any court can move.

Perhaps the real question is why you would deal with someone you think needs to be coerced by contract to uphold their end of the bargain? A handshake brings together a buyer, a seller, and trust. Where there is no trust, there is no deal.

Isn’t that a better way to do business?




About Jeff Polley

I'm interested in life and making the most of it. I have a fondness for good coffee and scintillating conversation. I don't act my age. For more you can follow me on Twitter - @xmpieman
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