One of the little tricks I like for remembering what’s important is to simply take a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle, and on the left side of the top write NEGOTIABLE, and on the right side write NON-NEGOTIABLE. You can fill in as necessary, based on your initial intelligence. If it’s a car, you might put something like: DVD player with headrest screens, CD changer, GPS navigation system, extended warranty, maybe even the color of the vehicle. Under NON-NEGOTIABLE go your limits, like the model vehicle you have your heart set on, an absolute cap of $25,200—dream on, right?
Of course, after the commander reviews the list and reviews certain inalienable facts about kids and long car rides, you slide the DVD player and headrest screens off the negotiable side and place it on the non-negotiable side, but you get the idea.
It’s not exactly high-tech; I don’t think a sheet of paper costs more than a nickel even in New York, and I doubt you’d plunk down a couple of hundred dollars to attend a seminar where that was the only piece of advice.
But I have to tell you, it’s saved many a negotiation. The simple rules are sometimes the very best rules, and this simple one works for everything from hostage negotiation to buying a car or refrigerator.