It is an important tenet of business faith that one does not try to extract that last nickel from every situation, that pound of flesh. The folks on the opposite end of your deals have to live too. Similarly, people with whom you deal sometimes come upon hard times. While it might not always be to your present tense advantage to provide accommodations to the downtrodden from time to time, it is not infrequent that the quality and future prospects of a relationship may be such that you do put yourself out when that would be immensely helpful.
Most accommodations in time of need – some emergency or other, or perhaps some short term exigency – tend to be minor, either in time or in financial value. Many do involve significant assistance. It is these latter varieties in which the consequences of indulgence may not be what you would expect or hope for. In significant indulgence, the risk of being bitten in return should be recognized, at least to the extent that the arrangements are memorialized in some appropriate fashion. The moment of need is the moment of obtainable signatures on agreements, and your due caution at this time will serve you well down the road.
Unfortunately, people seem not to be as decent as we think they used to be. As a lawyer, I have fewer happy recollections about that because I have seen to many clients stung in the most undeserving of circumstances by folks who could not later resist opportunism.
It is worth the effort to manage accommodations in such a way that the person who makes the accommodation decision refers its management to others. In that way, the accommodation is seen more as an institutional matter, and the need for its memorializing more a matter of proper routine than cynicism. “Let me get with my people and see what we can do to be helpful” always works best. In that way, your “people” are the ones who promptly get back to the needy chap with the protocols associated with granting what is sorely needed. They get what they need from you and you get positioned in a manner that ingratitude cannot be used down the road in pernicious ways.
The accommodation protocols should always provide for the following elements.
The circumstances that obtain at the moment are stated – you and I have an arrangement and you need some slack. I’m willing to cut you some slack though I am not required to do so by our arrangements. The accommodations are ……
You agree that in doing this, I am not giving up any rights or waiving any circumstances that I might be entitled to invoke, now or later, and that you remain obligated to the terms of our arrangements. You acknowledge that our arrangements are valid and enforceable, and you reaffirm your obligations as stated in them.
You agree that the actual mechanics of how all this will be sorted out over the coming specified term are such and such.
It is important to be humane in your commercial relationships. It is equally as important that your kindness go unpunished.