Perspective (or lack thereof) is what separates good deal-makers from great ones. The wise ones resist the natural tendency to jump in too quickly. Before anything else, they pause to survey the forest; there will be time enough to deal with the trees. A little introspection is in order.
Here's my best first question: "Why am I doing this?" The rest follow naturally. Is it about money? Is it about fun? Is it for friendship, revenge, aesthetics, a long-term strategy or noble philanthropy? Know your own mind. If you won't take the trouble, you'll only confuse, alienate and/or insult your opponent.
Explore your alternatives. Don't shortchange yourself. Most problems have more than one solution. What makes you think this deal is your best? Give yourself some time to brainstorm. Sometimes, five minutes of creativity can achieve more than five months of negotiation. Do not make the wrong deal at the right price. And do figure this out before you shake on it.
Thus, my best advice to you is totally pedestrian: When your big deals come around, slow down, take a deep breath and see the big picture before you make a move. Don't be hurried by others, and don't hurry your-self. Make all your decisions from the bird's-eye view: the who, the how, the why, the when, the which and the what. Before you can have it all, you must see it all.
A speaker and attorney in Los Angeles, Marc Diener is author of Deal Power.