Women in the Business Arena™ EP108: How to Handle Broken Agreements in Business

“There’s a middle ground where you can be clear and upfront with your agreements, and still come from a place of caring.” - Sonya Stattmann (15:42-15:52)

As business owners, we have to make a lot of agreements. We make agreements with our clients, with other service providers, with our spouses and our families. The problem is that many people, especially women, struggle to set boundaries and make clear agreements that support them to succeed. Women tend to over-own their responsibility, give in too much and let broken agreements slide. But what happens when promises are broken in our business relationships? Or how about when the agreements we have made no longer serve us? How do we honor our integrity and handle these tricky situations?

There are things that happen beyond your control. This is why one of the ways to handle broken agreements is to prepare for them before there is an agreement in the first place. This way you can take steps to protect yourself and your business when someone you've made an agreement with fails to deliver what they promised. You also can protect yourself in cases where you are accused of not keeping your agreements. 

You don’t want to rush through the agreement process and a lot of women do because they feel uncomfortable. They want to get the sales part over as quick as possible, but this is a big mistake. If you rush through the process and make agreements without doing your due diligence, you’re more likely to get burned. 

This is also true for the clients you serve. So many people teach you to force people to make a decision on a sales call, but this can be a big mistake. You don’t want to take on clients that have not had a chance to do their due diligence. Quick decisions often lead to broken agreements. So entrepreneurs need to first look at how they’re setting up their agreements.

“Make sure a clear agreement is made up front and that there’s some understanding of what happens if the agreement isn’t fulfilled.” - Sonya Stattmann (14:47-14:57)

Four Steps to Making Agreements That Stick

The following steps can prevent legal headaches and ensure that you and your partners have mutually beneficial relationships in the long run. 

1. Do Your Due Diligence

Entrepreneurs need to know who they’re entering agreements with. Referrals are a great way to find the people you need on your business journey, but you may not always have that luxury. Instead, look at reviews and testimonials to see what others who’ve worked with them have to say about their experience. Don’t be afraid to ask for examples of previous work. You could even request to speak to a past client or customer. Get to know the person you want to work with before entering an agreement. 

2. Use Contracts to Create Accountability

Accountability makes business agreements work. It’s important to put everything in writing so everyone understands what they need to deliver. Professionally drafted contracts are ideal, but they’re not the only way to get things in writing. You can outline the details of your agreements through email, audio or video recordings, and other media. Have something that everyone can look back on in case there’s any confusion or disagreements. Contracts protect you and your business.

3. Establish Clear Communication

Speak up when things aren’t going according to plan. You can be upfront about a broken agreement as long as you come from a place of compassion and caring. Check in with the other person to see how things are going. This keeps everyone on the same page about the project and its outcome. 

Be clear in your communication without placing blame before you know what’s going on. Give others the chance to respond to the questions or concerns you’ve expressed. It’s always good to do it in writing so you have documentation to back up any claims. 

4. Own Your Responsibilities but Don’t Over-own 

We all have responsibility in agreements that are broken. It often takes two to tango as they say.  The key is owning what is your responsibiity without over-owning what is someone else’s. When others can see that we’ve owned our part of an agreement or a broken agreement, they’re less defensive and more likely to work with you to address any issues. Approaching the situation from a neutral perspective goes a long way in disarming them when there’s conflict. Document any issues such as missed deadlines or the failure to fulfill services. This gives more clarity on what needs to be addressed and the confidence to communicate pressing concerns. It is also important not to over-own the situation which is  a common occurrence with women. You can be compassionate and strong.    

“Compassion means you are understanding while standing in your own truth. You’re seeing the other person’s truth and while still seeing your own.” - Laura Shook-Guzman (31:21-31:32)

Business owners make mistakes, and sometimes they make the wrong investments. You can protect yourself from broken agreements by being your own advocate and speaking up when needed. Dealing with broken agreements in business relationships comes down to owning your value, taking a stand, using your voice and sharing your feelings. 

How to get involved

  • Join the Women in the Business Arena Group on Facebook and continue the discussion starting next week!
  • Reach out to us - we’d love to hear more about where you’re at in life and business! Find out more here.

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