Be Prepared, Aim High, and Give Yourself Room to Compromise are the top three of DOD’s recently-released ten rules to its contracting officers.  Whether negotiating with DOD, GSA, or another agency, DOD’s guidance can prove helpful for contractors as well as the government workforce. As John Chierichella of Sheppard Mullin, the original source of the top 10 list, pointed out, it’s like the other team sharing their playbook for all to see.  The rules aren’t necessarily magical, but more of a common-sense guide to reinforce standard business techniques.  Although all are useful, we like number 7 perhaps the best.  The “Say It Right” guidance is important to remember in Washington especially, a place where many government and industry professionals tend to talk in shades of gray with plenty of nuance.  This can help ease tense situations and achieve compromise, but gray areas can be deadly in the contracts world.  Making sure that each term has a specific and well understood meaning is critical to ensuring both performance compliance.  Another one we’ve used is Use the Power of Patience (Number 9).  Silence can be golden and can lead to the other party making concessions just to fill the void.   It’s amazing how well applied patience helps you not give in to a bad deal.  Whether an experienced negotiator or newbie, the DOD rules are “must reads” for government contractors to keep your skills sharp and understand where the government is coming from.