Rabbit Rule #5: Don’t Tell the Other Side What You Want — Find Out What the Other Side Wants

This may sound peculiar, since it is obvious that sometimes you must say what you want. But don’t be too quick to give out this information. Remember, the rabbit got what he wanted by concentrating on the mental processes of the other side. Had he used his time for discussion with the enemy as a therapy session, discussing his own feelings, dreams, hopes, and fears, he would have been soup.

Suppose you and your spouse own considerable community property, which includes two cars of approximately equal value. Now, if you make a point of telling your spouse that you can’t stand the blue car, but you just love the red one, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that your spouse will appear at the next negotiation session arguing that the red one should be included in the inventory at a considerably higher price than the blue car.

Another example: You tell your spouse that you have decided to leave the country after the divorce, so you don’t want to keep any interest in the mom-and-pop business you started together. What do you think is going to happen to the price of the business? Naturally, your spouse will begin to think that it is worth less than he or she thought when you had a possibility of laying claim to the business. The converse is also true. If you state that you must have the mom-and-pop store and you are willing to pay cash for your spouse’s share, the price is likely to increase.

Robin M. Green, Divorce: When It’s the Only Answer (The Ordinary Mortals Guide, Inc., 2005), Chapter 13, pp. 195-196.