... Lasts As Long As The Handshake
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Too often I've found myself the victim of this cliché, more often than not because of people outside the original handshake. I have a tendency to trust people's intentions, and am willing to work with people in good faith until that trust is broken.
When dealing with an individual, and not a business, this can be an appropriate relationship. However, when dealing with business this will often get you in trouble (not only because of the legal considerations). The reason is that very rarely are deals handled by only two individuals. Without something in writing, you are guaranteeing pain and wasted time which could have been avoided if the deal was written down in the first place.
I'll illustrate a recent example: