Years ago, I was standing in my apartment kitchen stirring soup at 6 p.m. when a man called me. He did not introduce himself, but immediately started talking about a contract. He indicated that I had to sign immediately, because it was a standard contract and his organization never made adjustments.

I was quite surprised by this unannounced phone call around dinner time. It took me some time to switch gears and understand what it was about. But it soon surfaced. During that period I was negotiating with a large training institute to also provide training for them. Super fun of course. The contact with the head of department was very nice and that made me enthusiastic to get started.

Anyway, that contract… it looked a bit less fun. Like many contracts, it was quite one-sided. The risks were all mine. And there was a tough non-competition clause that could also affect my current customers.

The man on the phone, who later turned out to be the head of legal affairs, thought it was just ‘standard practice’. I felt like he put pressure on me to draw quickly, without making any adjustments.

It was super difficult for me to refuse, because…

…I don’t like conflict
…I know more about training and coaching than about contracts
…like so many others, I find it difficult when I am put under pressure.

Fortunately, I had a conversation strategy that has helped me in difficult situations before. Namely indicate that I want an outcome that does justice to the interests of both parties. It is a principle that no one can really object to and with which you can create more balance in a conversation.

By mentioning a number of times during the conversation that I understood that he wanted to speed up and wanted me to just sign and that I think it is important that the contract does justice to both parties. And… that I don’t think that is the case now. At least I could hold my own in the conversation without giving in immediately.

We were unable to reach an agreement that evening, but a while later we were able to make some adjustments to the contract that were important to me, which we designed in such a way that the standard did not have to be adjusted.

A great win-win solution that I would never have achieved without training (and plenty of practice with) negotiating and difficult conversations.


Do you also encounter difficult conversations and do you want to learn how to remain strong in conversations under pressure? Perhaps communication coaching could be something for you. If you are interested, please send me a reply to schedule an information meeting to see if it is something for you. Or read the following article: what to do in the event of a robbery. -acting-in-a-robbery/