Who Is The World’s Worst Negotiator?

By:
marxman@comcast.net

The 45th president of the United States authored (co-authored, sort of), The Art of the Deal. His campaign decried that America doesn’t win anymore and that the United States makes bad deals. He billed himself as a master negotiator. Let’s take him at his word and go under the assumption that the 45th president is the world’s best negotiator. If he’s the best, then who is the worst? That ignominious label was earned during the world’s first negotiation, in biblical times…

Genesis (18:1) – translation in parenthesis

Then the LORD said, “The outrage of Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave! (God is having a bad day and intends to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.)

I will go down to see whether they have acted altogether according to the outcry that has reached Me; if not, I will take note.” (Not really sure what this means.)

The men went on from there to Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the LORD. (First smart move by Abraham. He’s observing. Learning. Listening. These are proven successful negotiation tactics.)

Abraham came forward and said, “Will You sweep away the innocent along with the guilty? (Abraham asks a rhetorical, closed-ended question.)

What if there should be fifty innocent within the city; will You then wipe out the place and not forgive it for the sake of the innocent fifty who are in it? (Abraham begins the negotiation process with an opening offer of fifty.)

Far be it from You to do such a thing, to bring death upon the innocent as well as the guilty, so that innocent and guilty fare alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” (Abraham personalizing the decision for God. In other words, he’s asking God if God has really thought this thing through.)

And the LORD answered, “If I find within the city of Sodom fifty innocent ones, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.” (Whoa. Wait. God, what up? You cave that quickly? You agree to Abraham’s first offer? Good thing you are not in the market for a new car.)

Abraham spoke up, saying, “Here I venture to speak to my Lord, I who am but dust and ashes: (Abraham playing to God’s vanity. And, kills time while he recovers from God’s foolish and unexpected acceptance of his first offer.)

What if the fifty innocent should lack five? Will You destroy the whole city for want of the five?” (Abraham regains composure. He applies more pressure, tossing out an offer of forty-five.)

And He answered, “I will not destroy if I find forty-five there.” (Is he for real? The number five principle in The Art of the Deal is to “use your leverage” during a negotiation. God seemingly has all of the leverage in the universe, but doesn’t seem to be taking advantage of it.)

But he spoke to Him again, and said, “What if forty should be found there?” (Abraham ups the ante. Heck, why not? God agreed to forty-five. Why not offer forty instead? Are there no limits to which God would agree?)

And He answered, “I will not do it, for the sake of the forty.” (Oh my God. Do you hear yourself? You’re making one concession after another without getting anything in return. Ask for something. That’s basic Negotiation 101.)

And he said, “Let not my Lord be angry if I go on: what if thirty should be found there?” (Now Abraham is feeling it. He’s down to thirty good people and practically toying with God. Where will it end?)

And He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.” (God gives in yet again and gets nothing in return. A more appropriate response would have been, “Okay Abraham, I’ll go down to thirty, if you tell me your secret for impregnating Sarah when you were 100 years old. How on earth did you do that?”)

And he said, “I venture again to speak to my Lord: what if twenty should be found there?” (Nice and steady, down goes the count. Abraham appears to be in control of this deal.)

And He answered, “I will not destroy, for the sake of the twenty.” (God, do you know something we don’t?)

And he said, “Let not my Lord be angry if I speak but this last time: what if ten should be found there?” (Abraham is on his way down to zero. He knows nothing can stop him now.)

And He answered, “I will not destroy, for the sake of the ten.” (Is this really happening?)

When the LORD had finished speaking to Abraham, He departed; and Abraham returned to his place. (That’s it! So, what all along looked like a slam-dunk for Abraham winds up in a tie? No contest?)

Is God the world’s worst negotiator? Maybe, maybe not. A case can be made for Abraham. He inexplicably stopped at ten!

 

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