Say what you mean and do what you say you will do

Clients sometimes create more problems for themselves because they say one thing and do another.  That isn’t really anything surprising, people often say one thing and do something different (even if it is from the perspective of the other party) but this can create unnecessary headaches for clients if they are not careful.  I had an experience recently where I was advising a client (I’ll call the client "A") who was, in turn, negotiating with another party ("B").  A told B that A would make a payment to B.  What B heard was that the payment would be made by 12:00 that day but A instructed me that he said the payment would be made by close of business that day.  Of course the payment was not made by 12:00 so B took action against my client.  A was able to make the payment shortly after B’s deadline but by this point B had decided that A was messing him around and couldn’t be trusted.  Suffice to say the whole process went very sour very quickly and there was nothing I could do to rectify the situation because B had formed an impression and wasn’t going to be dissuaded from his chosen course of action.

The lesson here is that if you say you are going to do something then do it.  If you don’t believe you can do what you say you will do then either don’t say you’ll do it at all or come clean when you hit a wall and it looks unlikely that you will be able to fulfill your undertaking.  Right or wrong, people feel like they are being messed around if you don’t fulfill your undertakings and this is exacerbated in a litigation scenario because everybody is on edge already.

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