It is common for individuals to orally discuss their wishes and expectations with others in the course of doing business. As negotiations ensue, it is easy to lose track of what has been agreed upon or the concessions that have been made. This is why it is important to memorialize these discussions in writing as they progress.
Sometimes, it is as simple as sending an email correspondence to ‘thank’ the individual for meeting with you and ‘summarize’ your understanding of the next steps on each person’s part. I personally like to end this type of correspondence with an invitation to reply with corrections if I have ‘misunderstood’ in any way. The implication is that their silence will be considered assent (or agreement).
This can evolve into a Memorandum of Understanding or other contract such as a Purchase Agreement, depending on the context. When there are disagreements about what was said, the paper trail can help establish what in fact transpired. In the event of dispute, whether you need to present this to a supervisor within a business or a court of law, you will be grateful that you put your agreements in writing.
Of course, we hope that all of our transactions will be smooth and uneventful. The most prudent practice, however, is to put everything in writing and cover your basis . . . just in case.